« High-Performance Social Networking - Part II: The Natural Life-Cycle of a Personal Network | Sacred Cow Dung Home | Planning, Funding, Executing, and Exiting a New Venture | Gerry Lemberg »
March 17, 2006
FIND OF THE WEEK: HumanPages - "LinkedIn With A Heart?"
As it turns out, there is now more than one way to run a SPAM-Proof Online People Directory and Referral Service.
HumanPages is the brainchild of Chris Bartlett. I first met Chris in December 2005 at the Beyond Blogs and Social Networks Conference (a terrific conference put together by David Teten and Scott Allen, authors of The Virtual Handshake). And, yes, that’s right — Chris and I first met in person! Real-world F2F networking — it happens sometimes. ;-)
Anyway, I got a personal tour of HumanPages from Chris a few weeks later while it was still in a skunk-works alpha release but it still looked pretty good from the get-go. Subsequent iterative and incremental improvements driven-by alpha user feedback has given HumanPages a simple clean interface.
This week, HumanPages is now in public beta release — and I recommend anyone who has ever used LinkedIn to take a serious look at it.
While hardly a competitive threat to LinkedIn’s massive “resume database” (5m+), HumanPages takes an entirely different approach to solving the inherent SPAM problem of Online People Directories.
LinkedIn’s clever “authenticated one-to-one human referral chain” looks a whole lot like networking (even using networking terminology). In fact, we often hear people use the term “LinkedIn Network”. So it’s hardly surprising that many people (including LinkedIn management) often confuse online activities on LinkedIn as “actual networking” among “connections” — rather than just “manual human SPAM filtering.”
LinkedIN is NOT a network and is NOT a networking platform. LinkedIn is an application to find, or be found by, other LinkedIn members. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. And it works well.
While LinkedIn Requests are always unsolicited, they are —
- NOT anonymous,
- NOT easily automated,
- Time-Consuming to create, and
- Time-Consuming to refer through.
This approach, while an effective SPAM deterrent, is beginning to show signs of weakness under long-term use.
As anyone who has been using LinkedIn for awhile will attest to, the process is highly-inefficient and a “daily-grind.”. For most active users of LinkedIn, the daily routine of processing request is becoming a significant burden and major time commitment — resulting in the so-called “Connector Burn-out.” And all for pure SPAM deterrence!
Enter, HumanPages. Just like LinkedIn, HumanPages starts as a People Directory — except it has a much simpler solution to the SPAM risk: Make people pay to contact you.
At first this may seem a little weird — but it is well-understood that SPAM is a by-product of “zero-cost messaging”. SPAM only becomes a problem when the cost of each message goes to zero. With high-volumes of “zero-cost” marketing messages, even highly-ineffective un-targeted SPAM sweeps can still get cost-effective results.
One of the more interesting proposals to solve email SPAM was to put a small cost on email —similar to postage — which would have a major deterrence effect on “zero-cost” SPAM. This is, in effect, how LinkedIn actually works. LinkedIn has no SPAM because there is significant personal expense to the process. It’s a pain in the ass to create LinkedIn requests one-at-a-time and there is a significant risk that, if you do it wrong, people will yell at you (i.e., it’s not only not anonymous — it’s highly Public! ). Therefore, active LinkedIn users must spend the time and the effort to create highly-effective requests to get high response rates from extremely low volumes of requests.
More radical proposals to solve email SPAM have suggested that people pay cash to contact others. With this “supply and demand” approach, anyone can contact anyone else — but there is always a price to pay. “Bye-Bye zero-cost messaging” and “Bye-Bye SPAM.”
Of course, there is one huge problem with charging people to connect to you — You look like a piker asking for a fee just to connect.
But what if the money went to your favourite charity instead of you?
That’s the approach HumanPages has taken. An interesting approach. When you register, one of the “fun” exercises is figuring out your personal “pricing strategy”. If you price high, no one will contact you. If you price low, does that reflect your sense of self-worth? Or the worth of your charity?
In summary, HumanPages promises to be an extremely interesting market experiment in social media — with potential windfall benefits to charity to boot.
Since I am an incorrigible "re-positioner" of other peoples companies (I tend to see what I want to see), I thought it best to have Chris (Bartlett) explain HumanPages in his own words —
HumanPages is an online directory for business professionals where you can contact anyone directly while creating a contribution to charity.
We found the Friend-of-a-Friend business networking concept, like LinkedIn.com, burdensome upon the people required to forward requests and frustrating to use. We wanted a mechanism that was simple to use, like an old fashioned directory whereby I could contact anyone directly…the problem was to find a mechanism that was easy to use and gave people control. Our solution is a Contact Price, which each person sets between $1 and $100. When a member sends an email Contact Request, the Contact Price payment is pre-authorized by the sender and automatically charged upon the receiver accepting the Contact Request. Each member also selects a charity and 50% each Contact Price payment is contributed to it.
By getting listed in HumanPages you can be contacted by potential clients, new employers or business partners knowing they are paying the Contact Price you set…this is a fantastic referral and spam filter.
Each person who joins (for free) HumanPages is helping themselves for business networking and helping their favorite charity.
… Join www.humanpages.com now to help yourself and your favorite charity.
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)