In this interview, Bambi Francisco continues her discussion with Paul Gauthier, co-founder of Diddit, a site that lets users share life experiences and stories about their favorite things they've accomplished around the globe.
BF: Paul, we were talking about when your users click the "diddit" button, you've already got thousands of people who have already done that. Right?
PG: Yes, we've been running sort of a private sneak peek of the site for about six months. We've been doing that while we were building up the content on the site. So we've managed to pull together 300,000 things to do in the world. Everything from beaches to surf at to ski resorts to go to. Everything you can think of, we've got it in there. We've also attracted a large user base already and we've got over 10,000 people on the site now and they've been going around checking things off the site.
BF: So you have 10,000 users because you've been in private beta for six months. But it's just now that you're opening the site. And, you don't actually have to be registered to browse the site. So it's sort of an open and closed type of network.
PG: Right, that's the big change that is happening right now. We are opening the site up. We've got all of this content and people who have come in and provided wonderful stories and reviews about the content so now it's a source of information for anybody. You can come and browse and find out about these things.
BF: Now being at the helm of a social network myself and being a student of several social networks, one of the key things that social networks need to create is a feedback loop to keep your users engaged to get them to communicate and interact and contribute. So what are the top three things you use to create that feedback loop?
PG: It's very compelling to go around and check things off of what you've done and people started getting into sort of game play with that. So we've got some high-score boards that would highlight the best person in the sports category. For instance, recognizing who has done the most things in sports or who has traveled the most places. So people come on the site and they get very interested in someone's standing in the community. They come back and check things off. There is also the social aspect of it as well. You can connect with your friends on Diddit and you can connect with your friends out in the other social networks like Facebook and Twitter and share with them the things you have accomplished.If I went to check something off, my friends can see the updates and status on that and that brings them back in.
BF: So you can share it with Facebook as well as other networks?
PG: Exactly. So we've got some basic social features in the site but we've also wanted to get connected in other parts of the ecosystem.
BF: How do you share with Twitter?
PG: So you can just post a Tweet if you've done something essentially. So you check it off. I've been there and done that and I can blast it out to my friends. When they get a link, they can come back to Diddit and see a rich, interesting description with photos to see what you've done and follow your story.
BF: So you can automatically post a tweet on your site that automatically goes to Twitter?
PG: That's a feature we will be rolling out shortly once we open the front door. We need to open the site first in order to integrate these externals.
BF: What's on the road map to get this distributed?
PG: Diddit is unique and with content based on things you want to do as well as places and activities. It is good for search. We want to work for search engine optimization by providing great content that ranks highly in search engines. That will bring people to the site and it's also very social. You want to share these accomplishments and experiences with your friends. So we've got a certain amount of virality. We think these things will work together very well to bring people together.
BF: What are the keys to virality?
PG: Fundamentally, producing great content is the best thing you can do. There are all kinds of mechanical things that you need to do but we want to have great structured data and sort of all of these topics and where they're located and then color commentary from the community such as ratings and reviews.
BF: Do ratings and reviews help in an SEO?
PG: It's great content that ultimately gets people in the Web to link to you and those links are what helps to pull you up in the search engine.
BF: That's true. It's the good content. So you're really about people linking back to you. So how about business model. How are you making money? What is the model?
PG: The content in Diddit is something we can fundamentally monetize. Going places, doing things, you're interacting with other businesses when you are doing these things, and you need gear for those things. So if I am going skiing, I may want to be introduced to certain products I may want to use when I am snowboarding. I may want to be introduced to ski resorts that I may want to go to. There are definitely players out there who I think will want to advertise on the site and bring their brands in association with their site. Then sort of promote their businesses on the site as well.
BF: Will you be focusing on a specific area with sponsors when you go direct? Such as ski resorts?
PG: I think for right now, we're going to be focused on building a product that is really great for the users that will provide a valuable resource and reference for users who want to research things. Then down the line we will be looking to start bringing partners on.
BF: Are you looking to hire?
PG: We are 10 people now. We will probably bring more people in the next year or so but we're at a pretty good size.
BF: I was just reading in the paper today that magazine sales are down like 11%, so broadly speaking, what is happening in media that is either helping you or creating this opportunity for you?
PG: I think it's probably a challenging time in the media world right now but I think people still want to go out and have these experiences. And by having them go online and finding more about Diddit will work for us. In terms of the larger economy, we are a small company right now. We've raised some money so we are in a good position to build a great product and attract users while this is going on.
BF: Okay, well Paul, we wish you the best of luck.