A new startup launched today that promises to be a Godsend to marketers and a bane to content creators. BO.LT debuted Thursday to allow brands and marketers to share pages via Facebook and Twitter, but with an interesting twist: they can change the content.
Obviously, as a writer I find this terrifying. I work hard to get exactly the right tone and voice for a story—which often even includes the picture that I pair with a story—and I don’t want anyone coming in and messing with it!
But co-CEO Matthew Roche, who describes BO.LT as a cross between StumbleUpon and Bit.ly, pointed out the fact that there are some clear benefits to the service, such as the fact that websites’ content will likely get more traffic if others can link with the option of changing a few things. Say, for instance, that a family-friendly brand like McDonalds wants to share your page, but it has the ‘S’ word in it and they have a strict no-swearing policy for all of the content they share. BO.LT allows them to go in and remove the offending word while linking to the original (and informing readers that the page was edited by the brand), so that they can share the page and the original content ultimately stays the same on the content creator’s end.
To do this, the brand or marketer can simply take the page in question and copy it into a BO.LT page, where they can then change anything they want from pictures and links to the content itself. The one thing they can’t change is the ads—the ads always stay put.
This, said Roche, is a Godsend to brands and marketers who are typically limited in what they can share because they don’t want to put their name on something that either goes against their policies, features some unsavory elements that could offend consumers, or simply just doesn’t fit their style.
I asked Roche about the rights of the content creators and whether they’re entitled to speak up. What if someone shares my page but changes my content to something I don’t like while keeping my name on it? If I’m horrified by the quality of the content, I don’t want my name on it. Roche assured me that the content creators have the right to speak up and demand that the page be taken down, particularly if it constitutes a copyright violation. Essentially, the system will work the same way YouTube works with TV networks—the network asks for the content to be removed, and YouTube complies and removes it. The same will hold true for BO.LT, said Roche.
But the service is sure to appeal to more than just marketers and brands. Individual users, professionals, and anyone who’s friends with their mom on Facebook has a reason to want to alter the content they share, ever so slightly. For that reason, BO.LT has a three-tiered usage system. First are the anonymous users, who can copy, edit, and share a page under five random characters to make them anonymous. Otherwise, users can create an account, which allows users to share under a name. Both versions of the service are free, but the highest level, corporate, is charged a fee.
Roche and his brother Jamie run the business together as co-CEOs and recently raised $5 million from Benchmark Capital to start the business. Matthew Roche comes to BO.LT from Offermatica, a B2B testing and content delivery service that allows marketers to test different treatments to figure out what works best. It’s still the most used targeting platform on the Internet, according to Roche.