OpenSocial and MyPunchbowl.com

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day writing down some thoughts about social media platforms. My goal is to set a course for Punchbowl Software as a company and articulate our strategy around the social media platforms.

Like most Web 2.0 startups, we dipped our toes in the murky waters of the Facebook platform. In September, we released a Facebook application called “Party Animal.” While it was interesting for us to learn about the Facebook platform, so far Party Animal has not become one of the really popular applications. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised: as the O’Reilly group so eloquently pointed out, only 84 Facebook applications have 87% of the traffic. Maybe if we had gotten on board early we would have been more successful.

So after spending some of my day thinking about the social media platforms and debating about which platforms to support in the future, it was particularly good timing when I stopped by TechCrunch last night and saw the announcement from Google about OpenSocial. Here’s the deal: rather than companies like ours writing applications directly for the Facebook platform, we can now write to Google OpenSocial and connect with a “new universe of social networks all over the web.” This is interesting.

What does it mean for MyPunchbowl.com? Well, we still have a fundmental question to answer: how much effort and energy should we put towards supporting these social networks? The reality is that MyPunchbowl.com’s traffic is growing fast and our users want new features and functionality on the main site. We’re quickly establishing ourselves as one of the leaders in event and party planning, and we have more opportunities than we can handle right now. Like all startups, we have limited resources. So while this announcement from Google helps companies like ours by theoretically limiting the distraction, it is still a distraction from our core mission.

Once the dust settles from this most recent development, startups like mine still have the same question to answer: is it worth the distraction to develop for the social media sites or are we better off focusing our energy on our main app? From my perspective, Google’s OpenSocial doesn’t help answer this question. It’s just another option to consider.

Additional information and good reading on ZDNet, O’Reilly, Mashable, and GigaOm.

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2 Responses to OpenSocial and MyPunchbowl.com

  1. Consider making MyPunchBowl into a “container” allowing others to develop apps to work on your site. It doesn’t just have to be that you develop your app to work with others.

  2. Rick says:

    Matt,

    Your post is a valid. Google’s new OpenSocial doesn’t answer the question, but adds a new one. Where do you guys go now? It’s worth noting that your exposure would most likely increase if you jumped on the band wagon early, as you said earlier. That leaves you with another question. Is that the right wagon to be jumping on? I believe all startups have that opportunity to pursue. Its all about timing and location, location, location. Google appears as a great boardwalk for new startups. I also believe it would create some better coverage than just a FBook app. It would allow a widjit for more than just one playing field.

    In my perspective, the applications (within the social media atmosphere) only creates media/social props and buzz for the company. It’s then you use that coverage to push your more profitable avenues. People think, “Hey, who created this app? They really must know what they are doing. I wonder what else they got?” That smells like a warm lead to me.

    Rick

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