Sunday, February 1, 2015

Plum Connects

First, it is imperative for us to build a social network that truly helps its users and, quite possibly, society at large.  Techies categorize applications that attempt to accomplish this goal as Social Good applications.  And while we recognize that a new social network, which can be used by anyone to connect with others for a multitude of reasons would most likely not fall into this category; our measuring stick of success will be when certain groups that currently have a hard time finding people like themselves, no longer struggle to do so.
Specifically, it will be our goal to partner with organizations that serve special user segments such as home bound senior citizens, patients with a particular condition, parents with special needs children, or caregivers with elder care concerns, to just name a few.  Plum will enable these users to connect with other Plum users to socialize and support one another.  We know that the best way to help grow these communities is to get as many people as possible using Plum and to let the masses connect for every reason under the sun.   The more people that use Plum, the more people Plum will automatically connect.   

When we started this endeavor, one critical question we asked ourselves was, “Will users want to use Plum to connect with complete strangers?” We have found that while discussing the concept of Plum with a wide variety of individuals, people see the value and they welcome the ability to connect with “strangers” that share common interests.  In addition, the market has proven - through the recent popularity of anonymous chat applications - that people do not mind connecting with strangers with which they have absolutely nothing in common.

Currently, it is standard practice that you have to go outside of your immediate social connections in order to find a community that shares your common interest.  That is why there is a forum and a Facebook group for everyone and everything; however, the following three problems exist:

  1. How do I find the forums, groups, or associations that are for me?
  2. How do I trust that these people are really like me?
  3. How do I have these interest-based conversations without revealing my true identity?

We have all experienced it: if Google does not instantly point you to the correct community, then it can take you a long time to find your place.  In addition, every new person with the same need has to go through the same tedious or seemingly impossible process. In the event that you are able to find what you believe to be the correct community, the experience may be a lengthy process to determine whether or not the “community” has people like you.  Finally, if you want to have anonymous conversations, you will have to find a community outside of Facebook and LinkedIn.
Our mission at Plum is to elegantly address the above mentioned issues.
With the simple touch of a “find” button within Plum, you will be able to see all of the users who are just like you and how closely they match you.  For example, you will be able to see if a user is a 10% or 90% match to your Plum profile. Once Plum has found your closest matches, you can connect with them either individually or as a group.
Does the Plum score guarantee that this person shares your interests and beliefs?  This is a good time to clarify and define what the Plum score is and is not.  The Plum score you see will show you how closely you and other Plum users match based on the level of interest you share in the same subject matter.  The Plum score is not a reflection of a person’s inner beliefs and values.
In closing, you may have noticed that I did not address the third problem- facilitating anonymous communication- stay tuned to Part II of our Plum’s Core Principle blog series where we will cover what we mean by saying that Plum is Anonymous.

If you would like to learn more about the Interest Graph problem that Plum is solving, here is a link to an article written over 3 years ago talking about How the Interest Graph will shape the future of the web.

Plum’s Core Principles

Jason and I have never built a social network.  In fact, we are not big users of existing networks available today.  In A SocialNetwork for the Non-Narcissist, we highlighted some of the reasons we are building a new social network; one that we would actually want to use.  When we agreed to form the company to create People Like You and Me (Plum), it was very important to the both of us that 1.) we were clear on what we wanted to accomplish and 2.) the manner in which we wanted to conduct business. 

Before we move into the core principles of Plum, Jason and I would like to share with you a little more about our business model.  For starters, we know that Plum is going to require money from an operational and support perspective.  With that said, we also know that we want Plum to be a free service for every end user.  Oh yes, and did I mention that we are not opposed to making a profit? 

In order to accomplish the objectives stated above, Plum will support advertising and affiliate marketing links from day one.  We will also be selling business licenses that let a business build customer-based communities within Plum.   As for the specifics behind the business relationships, it is a little early in the journey to provide you with all of the details; nevertheless, rest assured that as we continue to develop the concept, we will share the details with you.

What follows in this blog is a three part series of our company’s core principles.  This lays out the foundation for Plum and how Jason and I intend to conduct business with both the users of Plum and the businesses with which we aspire to partner. 

Plum Connects

Plum is Anonymous

Plum is Transparent