I’ve been participating in several LinkedIn discussion groups, in fact both HP and Dell have pretty active discussion groups. This does not include the active groups by many of the Meetup groups. The NY Tech Meetup group discussion board is quite lively and informative in fact.
Farooq Yousuf is Co-founder of Shoutreel an online discussion group service has launched a new service that helps businesses and consumers manage discussions. I asked him some questions to get a better understanding.
Why create this when people can use LinkedIn Groups or Facebook
Shoutreel is not trying to reinvent Facebook or LinkedIn groups, but trying to provide a solution for the people that want a group that is outside of a closed network and far simpler to use. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are a little more restrictive and cumbersome.
First off you must be a member of those communities to contribute, Shoutreel allows all people to contribute to the public Reel even if they are not members. Shoutreel’s public Reels allow anyone to post a shout, we’ve took the wiki-like approach. This is an annoyance of me personally, I hate to goto sites and entering username/password to say something. We believe that the moderating of the content should be the cretors job not the users, if you lift this barrier it will really promote more interaction.
Second, building a group inside a closed network forces a connection to your Facebook or LinkedIn accounts, not every one wants to connect their business/school group of acquaintances with their family and friends. There are many people that want to have a degree of separation. It really doesn’t make sense to share your most private moments with every single person you meet, that’s a pain point for us.
Third, the groups that you create in FB or LI are not given clean URLs, Shoutreel can do this, because we are just concentrating on groups, nothing else. Our urls are always clean and easy to read. For example: www.shoutreel.com/things-you-like
Fourth, Shoutreel Reels are embeddable into other websites, so you can make a Reel and then use it independently, not forcing your users to go to another site.
These are just some of the benefits of Shoutreel’s solution, there are many more and I can do a Skype call with you do discuss.
What’s the application for businesses, which is what I cover?
For businesses, Shoutreel can be used in many ways. A business can create many private Reels for each individual department and have a conversation stream, this gives a nice alternative to email. Email should be reserved for more important and permanent communication, not everything is email-worthy. Plus if a department is using a Reel to communicate then there is no need to remember all the people that should be in the address box, if a person is watching the Reel they will be given the notice.
Shoutreel also has a powerful stitch feature that allows people to connect Reels together and form a sort-of Intranet. For example the Acme company has 5 departments, accounting, IT, business development, marketing, and HR. Acme can create a Reel called Acme Corp, then send a stitch request to all the other Reels, once the creators (ideally manager/directors) of those Reels approve, the Reels will be connected to the Acme Corp Reel. This flexible design really can revolutionize the Intranet concept.
Besides internal uses, Shoutreel can provide businesses a nice feedback forum. Businesses can create a public reel for customer feedback and embed it on their
website, users can come and leave comments without having the hassle of logging in.
What’s the cost
At the current moment we are not charging for our services, in the future we have plans to form different packages for our advanced users. Shoutreel will always be reasonable in costs, we want our users to not be burdened with expensive plans, instead we aim to provide the best product at the cheapest price.
How does this compare to a listserve or yahoo/google group?
Listservs or Yahoo/Google groups are great, but they lack much of the ease. Shoutreel provides features that aim to engage the audiance and provide a more social and enjoyable experience. Those groups have been around for a long time and need to be restructured. If you look at the demographics of the users that are still using Yahoo/Google groups, it is a much older audience. Most of the younger crowd needs features that are Twitter/Facebook-like. Shoutreel is simply evolving those services.