That question sparked the start of an image-based, international social network that millions use yet, unlike Facebook, few people know about. The peculiarly-named name PerfSpot started by co-hosting small events with photographers who took pictures of the partygoers. Attendees get cards at the gatherings, inviting them to visit the site. There they can see photos of themselves and of others at any of the parties covered by PerfSpot. That’s proved to be a simple yet profitable idea. (In a moment, I’ll suggest how clubs and associations could offer a fun member benefit and get a new profit center, adapting this approach.)
Observes Jemima Kiss, “brands including Coke and Sony are keen to advertise on the cards handed out to all those party goers.” Today the company has over 800 photographers who cover these parties called PerfNights. Plus it has around 220 million videos, 400 different video partners and millions of member-uploaded pictures. Around 20 million people have joined Perfspot. The site gets a whopping 46 million unique views a month. It site serves people in 200 countries and 50 languages and is adding new services via partners. Yet some describe it as a “mySpace clone.”
While the site is free to members, it was profitable within three months through advertising revenue. This Scottsdale-based firm just launched in March, 2007. For a social network, Perfspot pledges to take unusual care of its members. The staff reviews images to remove pornography (if not risque images) and has a free number to call to answer members’ questions – yet some have complaints. It’s a site for youngish, casual users. Not my demographic. I couldn’t find anything captivating but that doesn’t matter to PerfSpot. In March it overtook Facebook as the fastest growing social-networking site in the UK. Thanks, Mark Brooks, for the tip.
Here’s a what-if scenario for membership-based groups:
While the PerfNights’ service is popular for the masses, the overall brand image and extra “make friends and share” options of PerfSpot may not appeal to many associations. What if a respected association expert and a social media expert co-founded a firm to set up and manage stand-alone social media sites for associations –just offering their custom version of the PerfNights service?
The firm could forge agreements with associations to photograph and video their gatherings. Those might include the annual conference’s award banquets, social mixers and perhaps some educational sessions. It could recruit local professional photographers and videographers to be hired under contract for such events.
As well, this firm could hire experienced vloggers and podcasters to interview people “live” at the conference – generating popular content that would draw members to the site. This firm might provide a list of suggested questions for these roving reporters to ask. They could include “What’s your favorite part of the conference so far?”, “Who’s someone you admire here and why?”, “What new insight have you gained here?” or “What advice would you give our members?”
Each association would have its own social media site, hosted and managed by this start-up. Only members of that association could join, provide a profile with tag words, contribute related videos and photos – also tagged for easy searching by other members – and leave comments connected to each others’ images. To assist in members’ image search, this firm might partner with Pixsy.
As at PerfSpot, the startup would allow advertising – seeking firms that want contact with that member demographic yet that are not the industry-specific sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers that are already involved with the association.
To attract association participation, this start-up could offer a split in the advertising revenue that would grow over time with increased members participation. The start-up could have photo and video contests – with prizes from advertisers – to motivate members to make and contribute photos and videos throughout the year – and thus stay active on the site.
In this way, the association can offer a new member service while gaining a new profit center that doesn’t cannibalize its current sources of revenue – and does not require an additional staffer to manage. In time, this firm might offer client associations the opportunity to allow non-members to view the images on other members associations’ sites yet not comment nor contribute.