Facebook has more than one billion users you can friend. Twitter has 800 million accounts you can follow. But if you want to find information relevant to a small community on those networks, you have to search for it.
Neil Patwardhan says that’s a problem. He founded a new social network called Skoop.
“The growth of macro social networks has gotten so vast that its created a perfect problem and the problem is relevancy,” Patwardhan says, “I mean theres only so many cat videos I can take in my news feed.”
Skoop is centered around specific colleges. For example, if you have a Texas Tech email account, you can login in and find events, free food, buy used books and chat with the people nearby.
Now Patwardhan is taking Skoop to SXSW – But it will only be good for Southby’s 12 days of conferences.
We’re out to prove that a micro network actually makes a ton of sense around a event so no ones ever done a social network around a event before,” Patwardhan says.
If history is any indicator, one conference is a good place to debut a new social media platform. Twitter first launched at South by Southwest Interactive in 2007. Foursquare did it in 2009.
Josh Constine says there’s a lot buzz around social networks that are small by design. He writes for Tech Crunch.
“I think there’s a lot of value and people are excited about micro networks because it means that there’s a more an intimate back and forth conversation rather than a one-way broadcasting,” says Constine.
The problem now is money, as in “how do you make any”?
If you’re a brand trying to advertise on Facebook or Tumblr, the main draw is the sheer number of eyeballs. A small network just can’t compete. Which is why Patwardhan is banking on South By Southwest.
“What you will end up finding out is after South by, having proven our model, we can actually go to event organizers and say listen you need this for your attendees, says Patwardhan,” and we would build that for you we would write label that for you for a fee.”
Right now Skoop doesn’t make any money. It’s in good company, though – Twitter waited 4 years before it turned a profit.
But Twitter didn’t pay a team of people to populate the app with content. Skoop is paying to plug 900 events to plug into its South by Southwest model.
Patwardhan wants to sell users and potential sponsors on the idea that engagement is more valuable than a wide user base.
Tech Crunch’s Josh Constine says that’s consistent with the way people use social media in 2015.
“A lot of people would say that they would rather share to a small group of people but get real feedback, say friends who really read what they wrote, and wrote something back tot hem rather than just broadcasting it out to a ton of people who only shallowly consume it and there won’t be any feedback or conversation or discussion,” Constine says.
But whether that’s a point of view that will generate any revenue, well, that remains to be seen.