A main objective of the Others Online private beta was to organically seed our tag database. Since we connect people by a controlled set of tags/keywords, it's in our best interests to let the users (rather than us) define how they wish to be connected with others. I'm pleased to report that so far it's been very successfull.
Within just a few days of launching a private beta, our huge base of almost 50 users have explicitly defined 262 valid tags in our database (which they can use to connect with each other). Even with this few number of users, I'm no longer seeing Featured Profiles when I sign in (we have Featured Profiles show when there is not enough info to match you with others). Every page I go to, I see others online. (Disclosure: of course, since I personally invited the users into the private beta, there is more likelihood that we share interests! I suspect other users continue to see Featured Profiles.)
The really cool part is our "queued keywords" which you might think of as keywords suggested to us by our users, based on their online browsing (and which aren't already 'valid' keywords). These are keywords/phrases which have been weighted heavily within Web page content. I sifted through such a report last night of 2600 keywords/phrases, sorted by frequency of recurrence, and selected 156 additional keywords/phrases that we'll match users around.
This is really cool for a couple reasons. First, now we can connect people around the interests they demonstrate but didn't type in. For instance, one keyword I activated is "TechCruch", which is a popular technology news blog several of our users apparently visit. Now that it's activated, "TechCrunch" forms a visible connection between those users, like "hey, I go to that site too".
Second, this is an interesting way to approach Web sites for partnership, by sending them a note essentially telling them (albeit with more tact):
- We've activated your site as a keyword, based on the fact that we share users.
- As a result, these users can see each other both on your site and when they're at other Web sites, because we're connecting them based on their interests, this keyword being one of them. Oh, and they're talking to each other and going to each other's Web sites too.
- We're sponsoring and monetizing your users while they're off AND on your site.
- If you'd like to benefit from this, we're happy to work with you, but we really don't have to.
Seems to me that could elicit an interesting response from them, especially if they learn of zero cost to work with us on distribution, and everything to gain. If you haven't seen the Keyword Ownership pitch, you should.