Hashtags As Social Networks
Our portfolio company Kik launched hashtags yesterday. Kik is a mobile messenger so in Kik’s model hashtags are private or public group chats.
If I send a hashtag to a friend in Kik that says let’s chat about tonight’s knicks game at #knickskik, then that becomes a private group between me and that friend (and any others who we invite). I’ve done that so the #knickskik hashtag is now private on Kik.
But hashtags can also be public. If you have the latest version of Kik on your phone (came out yesterday), type #avckikgroup into a chat and then click on that link. Up to 50 of us can be in that group.
The cool thing about Kik is that it doesn’t use phone numbers like other messengers. It uses usernames and is not tied to your phone number or Facebook username. And so Kik, unlike other messengers, is used for both chatting with people you know (like other messengers) and people you don’t know.
That makes Kik an ideal platform for these public (and searchable) group chats. You can meet people in these public chatrooms and then take your conversations private in a one to one chat in Kik.
Ted Livingston, Kik’s founder and CEO, called this “hashtags as social networks” in a blog post yesterday. I agree with Ted that Facebook’s model of the one network to rule them all has not really worked and that many of us are using messengers as defacto social networks. My friend Kirk told me that his wife’s family uses a group in WhatsApp like their personal family facebook feed. I think that’s the phase of social networking we are now into and so Kik’s hashtag as social network model makes a ton of sense to me.
There was an NYC startup a few years ago which was also #hashtag for social network. I’ll try to re-find their link.Meanwhile, there’s #hashtag for search:* http://www.alleywatch.com/2…Also this #hashtag aggregator:* http://nystartuphub.com/tag…
I’m in the KIK group. Where y’all at?
Hey JimWondering what the why of this is?
Looks like a disclosure to me.
weird popup to wake up to.gotta ask why it is there?
I’m not sure where in your user experience it popped up. So, I can’t really say.
on avc when i put a comment in this morning.
Not sure why. Might be testing some outreach to select users. And/or some disclosure statements.
Very well written popup.I love the way the message included the word “may” prior to “pay us”. Also “learn more” and “give us feedback” at the end. And started with “new and interesting”.
If it’s the #knickskik it is getting about as much action as a priest in Vegas.
you can invite me?
What’s your Kik name?
uhh, good question, I think it is shanac
It’s not drawing me in Fred.His post is defining the value of Kik by what it’s not which in almost all cases, sounds like a feature value quotient rather than a connection.Software should learn from the entertainment industry.A film whether it costs $1M or $100M works if it make someone/everyone feel good, touched in someway. Nothing more.I want to want to use Kik. It’s not my job to figure out why, it’s their’s to touch me so I want it.
All valid criticisms.The typical Kik user is under 25 for what it’s worth
I’m going to try it regardless as I’m a believer that group chats is a dream that will come true.If you have a business that has a bunch of under 30 employees and spend your day texting to create order, you know this is real.
That dream has come true and its called WhatsApp. Kik just wants in on that action.
I use it alot with my international communities but amongst the 20 somethings I see employed in my investments, not as much.But I”m all in that there is a behavior here that can handle another platforming.
very truewhat is strange is that whatsapp usage has never been strong in the US and has declined in the US since the Facebook acquisition. that’s an opportunity for someone. ideally Kik!
Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth. Whatsapp, Kik Messenger, Skype, GroupMe, LINE etc. they are all great for group communication (esp in China stuff like this is all the rage). But they are in some ways all undifferentiated. They are about chatting. I can also put Facebook Messenger in the same category. Sure I can add stickers, or record voice on Voxer etc. but at the end of the day the user dynamics are the same.I think to break away from the pack a company needs to differentiate itself by developing new user flows in which it dominates. For example our current Groups app – if you search on the iPhone store – is ahead of Facebook Groups because people use it to group their contacts and mass message them using regular text and email, so the recipients don’t have to have the other app. But from there we are not going to build chat for chat’s sake. After all it’s the same as everything else – and in fact Whats App, Google Hangouts etc have a way better infrastructure than what we would launch.What’s really lacking is a way to figure out how to FORM the groups to begin with. Like say I want to go out to a steakhouse with friends. I would have to know which of my friends are free that evening, which are not vegetarian, who is actually interested, etc. Right now with the Groups app I can go to the Manhattan group and mass text everyone but it’s still not good enough. It’s too spammy. On the other hand texting one person at a time is inefficient and often in the end plans fall through. It’s a real problem, say you buy a groupon and want to invite friends. Is Skype / Whatsapp really the most efficient way to get people together? Is facebook? No.So you have to rethink the whole thing. That’s what Groups 3 is going to be. http://qbixstaging.com/Groups — you can see the work in progress which we plan to launch in the Spring as an update to all our users. Then we plan to launch Tasks, built around the same exact flow but for assigning tasks to people (teams) instead of going out.Basically to summarize – I think the chat has become a commodity. It’s the user flows that determine the revenue potential. What people’s intent is at every point.
If you have a business that has a bunch of under 30 employees and spend your day texting to create order, you know this is real.In this use case, I think looking at Slack would be a better solution. But what services like Kik are trying to do seems great for those who aren’t connected by a common work place, but have some other social connection. I think what they’ve done here with the private group via hashtag is great for reducing friction for participants.
Good input–thanks.I will look at slack but my experience with so far tells me that getting this demographic (not a tech crowd) to adopt a new app for work only is a challenge.Adding new habits is a challenge even ones like integrating payroll apps where the motivation for doing it is obvious.
I do understand your challenge. If you can get them started by using it as a chat platform (like IRC, but not scaring them with that term), they’ll likely come to see the strengths (hopefully ;). I think Slack intimidates some because it’s rather versatile (as I mentioned elsewhere in this thread).
What I’ve learned through my investment in the wellness sector where the individuals are all brought up with the phone as their computer though not tech in orientation is that it is a behavioral challenge.The strategy that never works is mandating the tool. Phones are personal tools and if they don’t like it it simply won’t find a position of usage.
Sure. I get it. One thing about Slack (and some other options) is that the mobile version is very good – especially the iOS version. I haven’t seen the Android version lately, so can’t comment. I use mostly the iOS version, but others prefer the desktop options due to handling lots of files and such.I was recently asked to look at a website for its UX (as a good example in an industry plagued with terrible web offerings) and was impressed. Then downloaded the mobile app and tried it… It was total garbage. Amazing really. They had done such a spectacular job on the web UI/UX and went to the trouble to launch a mobile app, but delivered useless rubbish.
Yup–garbage doesn’t cut it for the mass market.Apps are a challenge as unlike the web generally really require you to understand specifically the use case and they are just a bear to iterate.
reminds me of the nietzche quote”out of chaos comes order”Now updated to”out of conversation Apps come order”:-0
The typical Kik user is under 25 for what it’s worthHow stable of a business can be built with a changing target and somewhat fickle age group? They move on and you need new fresh kill to take their place.Maybe it’s different for you but the people that I knew back when I was newly married the first time are not the same people that I know now. Life changes things. Kids and jobs change things.
That is invariably not how it plays out.As your demographic grows they take their habits with them and the footprint of the users increases. And your product evolves along with it.True for gaming, true for social networks as well.
So you are saying that the product changes as the demographic shifts?
Yup that is part of it.Products evolves certainly.But more important in my experience is the behavioral attachment to tools that work especially communications ones.Advertising in games is something that proved this to me.When you have tens of millions of customers adopting games in their 20s and 30s, they don’t hit an age and stop. They just keep going, you bring other types of games to them and you market to them as they evolve as well.
Makes sense.Isn’t the addiction and intermittent reinforcement factor with games much higher though?My 12 yr old stepson was an inveterate sports watcher on TV (much to my dismay). When there was no game he would watch or have on in the background the men in the suits talking about the game.Now he’s hooked on minecraft and spends his time on that. He still watches sports but nowhere near what he did prior to minecraft.You know what they say “you can only replace an addiction with another addiction” or something like that.I don’t play games on the computer and have never played games on the computer. Ever. Or sports. However from watching others it seems to me that computer games are way more addictive than sports (watched on TV) in that it appears that you get into more of a zone with them and get reinforced similar to the way people do in a casino. Slots have tweaked this feedback to a science.
Addictions come in all shapes and forms certainly.And yes, there are only so many that our behaviors can really handle at one time.I miss selling games at times. The love of that community for brands they is something that was an inspiration–and a money maker.
Is that to say that you predict gaming will evolve into more sophisticated/practical life tools ?
Nope didn’t say that.If I have a group of let’s say 1-3M late teens/20 something enthusiast for (real example) Doom from Id, the economic value of that group is immense over time and may or may not have any relation to Doom or any other of Id’s other games.
“…behavioral attachment to tools that work especially communications ones.” = Magic.”I want to want to use (xyz social platform…my edit) It’s not my job to figure out why, it’s their’s to touch me so I want it.” = The gravity which holds users in orbit.Though I don’t believe marketing messages can capture every use case every time. One must examine the system and apply as needed. Marketing should make it as easy as possible for potential users to sift through the various use cases to prevent users from escaping the system’s gravity. I’m with @awaldstein:disqus on this… I don’t want to work that hard to figure out IF the platform makes sense to me.Demanding? Maybe. But that’s the behavior I see in those around me as well. Hard to look away from that reality.If I’m not back before the holidays…I wish you all a warm and happy holiday season.
maybe we just never grow up. we just stop growing at a specific point
I don’t look at it that way Shana.It’s not about maturity its about behavior, habits and connections. They grow and carry values and connections with them.
How do they touch you? Hollywood has trailers, commercials, posters, Twitter ads, banner ads online. The only time I hear about Kik is on this blog.
I was looking at this differelntly.You are talking about customer acquisition, I’m talking about connection.The greatest customer acquisition tool for movies is word of mouth. That is driven by visceral connection, by being touched by the flic itself.
I recently made the attached graphic to sort out the communication / messaging space. Recent products like Trello and Slack have made communicating about multiple things with multiple people easier. Kudos for Kik for making group communication easier.
In this case a info graphic is worth a thousand words. I’ve been suffering through a large project recently with emails and replies. It’s been a world of pain. Really wanted them to investigate Slack. They just weren’t there though.
Slack is dead-easy to use. It’s just so versatile in terms of coordinating other services (via API) that it can be daunting at first glance. It can be used as a simple chat platform (like IRC) to start with, and then one quickly acclimates.I feel this graphic incorrectly suggests that Slack is “HARD” to use. Certainly it’s more involved than sending a text to a friend who is already a contact, but it can be dead-simple to use as well. Just sayin’CC: @brucewarila:disqus
Dale, I only had a few minutes this morning to clarify. Slack is easy to use (we use it every day), and they have made discussing multiple things with multiple people easier (see my note above from earlier today). The graphic was meant to show that it’s hard to discuss multiple things with multiple people, and that products like Trello and Slack are addressing this job-to-be-done 🙂
Hi Bruce, thanks very much for the clarification. That makes sense to me now.Cheers!
This made me reinstall kik. It’s been mostly groupme but I like Kik interface and most of you guys
me same – except groupme has been on the longtail innovation railroad to nowhere since getting bought…I’ll give KIK another try….
I like the hashtag as private group key a lot. it seems to be doing everything it can to reduce friction, which is hugely relevant for making this work in my opinion.
I guess private hashtags don’t have to be unique system wide?
That is a good question because that would limit the ability to take a private hashtag public at will ?
Typically, it is a very bad idea to allow turning a private chat/group into public. Except if you hide the history up to this moment… which effectively would be like starting a new public chat (doesn’t make much sense).
Good point !
We just had Linkedin come in and give us a presentation, very informative and a good indicator where they are heading solution wise. We asked extensively about hashtags and location as a way of connecting with relevant people at the relevant time, in this case surrounding news events and thought leaders in a space at a SPECIFIC point in time. It seems the rise of the “casual temporal network” is something we are asking for, and perhaps services like Kik are starting to deliver.
Nice !”casual temporal network”Where does that quote come from ?It kinda describes the whole universe as a neural net-flux novelty-engine 🙂
I’d like to say that the Casual Temporal Network, or CTN, has it’s etymology in the writings of Richard D’Aveni’s Competitive Strategy. A renowned educator at Harvard, his ideas influenced Nicholas Negroponte and many others in the Cambridge community —- insert more providence BS here —— but I just made it up on the spot. I like your description actually.
> My friend Kirk told me that his wife’s family uses a group in WhatsApp like their personal family facebook feed.This is how me and my friends use Whatsapp too! Facebook tried to solve this problem by introducing groups by I think the fact that you want past media to be forgotten, which essentially happens in a chat because so much is happening, fails for Facebooks’s groups because of their annoying “chronologification” of past media.The perfect messenger/social network of the future has to be the intersection of basically Facebook’s newsfeed as chat for individual groups.
RIP !The FEDERATED potential of Google-Wave.If only they had been clever enough to simplify the starting-point interface as just a new email system and let people grow into its deeper conversation-construction functions over time :-(Google-Wave had the seminal attributes required to construct an extensible, atomic-table like, substrate-platform for building out all manner of flexibly recombinant functional-conversation structures.The whole universal reality stack, from top to bottom, in nothing more than an evolving neural-net entanglement of conversations(synchronization-signalling) between atom/cells/people/processes incorporating unlimited level-mixing and crosstalk.What we really need is a FEDERATED conversation-construction-kit. A conversation-construction-kit that allows for function-based custom-built conversations to be constructed around the old universal intent standards of – Who is it about?- What happened?- When did it take place?- Where did it take place?- Why did it happen?all wrapped up with a tool-set of crowdsources and/or personal metrics-fuctions targeted at collective/personal visualization and governance controls over all manner of personal/social/commerce/political affairs.
Ah, the plot thickens! I love to have discussions with others who are experts in the topics I’m passionate about. 1/ Can you Search for these groups too?2/ So if you’ve got #Knickskik & I have #Raptorskik, and they are playing each other on Sunday and we want to discuss that, can we merge the 2 groups, or we need to create a new group #raptorsknicks?
I have been using hangouts (previously google talk) for years to keep in touch with friends. Most of us have searchable hangouts chats because we haven’t gone “off record” in our chats, with some notable exceptions for friends that want to discuss sensitive work or relationship topics. The benefit of searching extends to email conversations as well. A few years ago we started hashtagging funny or relevant conversations so we could go back and search them later. For instance I have a long standing “bucket list” (I don’t prefer that term because I don’t intend it to be a one and done thing) goal of doing an open mic night for stand up comedy, so in chats where I might be workshopping a concept I would randomly type “#standup”. I don’t use kik because none of my close friends do, but what you describe seems very interesting!
It’s really interesting to watch the rise and fall (and resilience) of “messaging” tools over the years. (AIM, ICQ, IRC, AOL Group Chats, SMS, Facebook Wall posts – then messages – then chat, Twitter, Snapchat, Kik, gchat, Disqus, Instagram, Yik Yak, Reddit…)Surprising things happen when the #1 feature is people.
You wanna talk about it?
Mostly because people are edge cases
What does that mean?
that there is no such thing as an average person, we’re a collection of edges that at some point gets called average for the sake of having a reference point
A few decades of market research suggest otherwise.
Remember MSN Messenger? Amazing that all these services are trying to scratch the same itch.
Quite agree with you on this Fred. While large networks have their appeal, they open too wide for many functions of smaller groups, tribes or families. It will take diverse and evolving solutions to satisfy needs, and it is likely we will all use multiple networks over time.
PY shout out!
Fred, I am not that big into social media, but I think your hi level summary of the value proposition into Kik makes sense. However, what I am curious is does the more free-flowing and ad hoc nature of groups and such hurt the monetizability of it? Isn’t the reason facebook makes so much damn money (besides having 1.1 billion people lol) that they know a TON about you. I haven’t used Kik, but my impression is there isn’t nearly the amount of personal details or network / graph of friends / likes / interests etc. Which is probably part of what people like.. but does it crush advertising opportunities?
AuthorBee has been supporting hashtags as communities for more than a year, providing a space where people are co-creating social stories around common interests.
is there a character limit for a ‘kik’ (a tweet is 140)?
A Kik can be as long or as short as you’d like, and can include fun content like memes, drawings, etc. Disclosure: I work at Kik.
Thanks Rod.So Fred could have written this blog post as a kik and we could all have then piled in on our mobiles with a streaming thread of opinions and responses. Nice.
Last night I gave a little talk in the western suburbs of Chicago on entrepreneurship, startups etc. One of the questions I received was on social networks. I think broad based social networks are done. I think stratified social networks around themes where you can go deep on a topic are the rage. For example, TradingView.com has an excellent social network around trading ideas. Fishidy.com around fishing. Agree with Kirk Love that they are mimicking What’s App. It’s the right move for Kik to stay relevant and try and keep up with the other apps out there. Ted L. is right that Facebook won’t rule them all-but Facebook isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future either.
I think broad based social networks are done. I think stratified social networks around themes where you can go deep on a topic are the rage.”Done” in what sense? You mean from an investor perspective? Sure agree.However not “done” from the userbase. Facebook, for a certain age group, still appears to be the preferred place to share pictures of your kids with your friends, parents, aunts and uncles as well as other things that people brag about or want the widest group of people to see. In fact facebook was built imo by allowing people to humble brag about things. In the same way that linkedin was built by allowing people to have their resume and/or accomplishments out there.On FB what I’m seeing now (and I practically do nothing with FB other than look at what others do …. ) are people posting and sharing short videos and the like.
I took it to mean done as in, unlikely a new one breaks into the market in any significant way.Likely the existing ones will be around and active for the long haul now. You want in now, you have to change the game/playing field in some way…
unlikely a new one breaks into the market in any significant way.To me it’s ambiguous. Which is why we both had different takeaways.But let’s use another example and substitute some words.If you said “Ivy League colleges are done” how would you take that? You wouldn’t think “oh the speaker means that you are never going to start an IVY League College” (where IVY League means as good as not “part of the IVY League”).Or “broad based search engines are done”? You wouldn’t think “oh so it’s not a good idea to start a search engine and compete with google?”.Separately, what’s your feeling about high school football and “done” or trending down in coming years? Seems that from what I read the “mothers” are beginning to come around to the idea that it’s not a good idea to have your kid banged around in that way.
They are changing a lot of the rules and the equipment…plus they are getting a lot better about the requirements around coaching (technique, accountability, and recognition).I think as long as the popularity of the sport remains high at the pro level (and the perceived rewards remain great) kids/parents will be interested in it and willing to assume some risk.That being said – the rise of alternatives like soccer and even e-sports are pulling at least some kids/parents away from the riskier things like football.Def. something interesting/fun to watch play out over the years…
Right. The key to this is really what happens at the pro level and is talked about in the media and popular culture.Junior wants to play what Daddy likes and what Daddy watches on TV. That’s where it all starts.When I went to high school (back in the 70’s) it was one of the few schools that had soccer. (Was a private school). Wasn’t at any public schools. At least any that I knew about.Well now we are close to 40 years later and soccer still isn’t a big sport here and has never taken off. Even though many kid’s parents now have played soccer. At their public high school. However it’s not on TV with big city teams and fanfare (right?).The media is really key to all of this. ”Startups” and “entrepreneurship” are another good example. As is “coding” for that matter. It became a big deal when the media began to think it was a big deal because they had things to talk about that would make interesting stories. Remember the USFL and all of those other alternative leagues that have failed? Hard to be “the real thing” when there is already “the real thing”. Because it’s all in everyone’s head it’s the brand not the action and the game.
The rich get richer. 🙂
Which reminds me (I almost forgot) of a story.In the 1980’s the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL was a customer. They owed me about $5000 (about 10k in today’s dollars). They wouldn’t pay the bill. Wasn’t unusual most people took forever to pay.I called the league office. They laughed and said “ha ha they owe us money as well not sure what to tell you!!!” (in so many words).USFL was at the “sosumi” stage. For a place like this that’s not a bad thing that’s a good thing it buys them time. So you never want to go that route.So what I did was give them FUD I basically said something that roughly translated to “I’m going to the newspapers with what is going on here”. I didn’t actually say “I’m going to the newspapers” that’s key. If you tell someone what you are going to do they not only can plan around it but they can come to terms with the threat.  So you can’t really say that type of thing, at least by the way I do things.In 1 week I had my money. Just like that. Similar to medical tests. It’s the unknown that gives you the anxiety. Once you have a known you can deal with it much better. Important concept. Fear uncertainty doubt.
A month back, my Father took a turn, so I quickly set up a family WhatsApp group simply called Dad. In an instant, it had a remarkable impact on how we communicate as a family. What started out as a triage group, is now our old kitchen table where we’d talk, tease, argue, blag. Where previously we’d go weeks or months without talking, there’s now a continuous conversation. I especially like how any photos or videos in the group are default saved to our camera rolls. That is, they’re ours, and not captive in some social network.In some small sense, it has displaced social. But I doubt these conversations would ever have happened on social.
That’s a great use case actually I was thinking about that for families definitely.
we’ve got two set up – one for my family (split over Sydney and Toronto) and one for my wife’s (Sydney, London). It works great, particularly for my parents, who are not so comfortable with the public broadcasting of their lives on facebook/instagram etc. Agree that it doesn’t displace social, as these conversations weren’t happening. But at the same time, everyone’s got limited time, so if my attention is on this, I’m less engaged with other services
“My friend Kirk told me that his wife’s family uses a group in WhatsApp like their personal family facebook feed.”….Interesting observation…..my oldest daughter is a freshman in college…..she seems to keep up w/ her HS friends via a group messenger stream native iOS messenger.
LINE is used this way as well (especially in Asia).
I do the same for my law school classmates now that we’ve graduated. Many politicians I know now use text message or iMessage as their primary means of communication. Less noise than e-mail.
Grrr…I *was* building a mobile app that essentially had this at the core…seems a bit moot now…but guess that’s how the cookie crumbles! ;-)p.s. Obviously I *love* and applaud the idea though.
The Knicks, oh my.#knickskik
They gave the Raptors a hard time on Sunday at the MSG, even if they lost. Next game is Sunday in Toronto.
Can I join…
Using hashtags to spin up social networks on demand is a great idea.It seems incredibly easy to set up and use.However, would users feel comfortable using the same app for both public and private conversations ?I have always thought that apps that enable a public conversation (like twitter) and the apps that enable private conversations with smaller groups (what’s app, groupme etc.) have different DNAs and accomplish different jobs-to-be-done. The underlying motivation of the user for each job is very different.
Agreed. Public vs private are very different beasts..
Just like Instagram, Kik is on it’s way to better position it’s self as a big marketing tool.
Are messaging/texting groups really all that interesting these days? I view hashtags as just another product lifecycle extension on the s-curve; it’s evolving by adding a few new organizing features. Perhaps FB has it the next augmentation pegged correctly – video.
Sounds like Kik just reinvented IRC 🙂
Very interesting concept, I would also call it “ephemeral social networks”. It has clear implications to build ephemeral marketplaces around hashtags…
Am I the only one who prefer meetings, talking and spending time together over hashtag spam? Or who at least prefer traditional e-mail/sms/phonecall way of exchange of informations?naszmakijaz.pl/czy-piekna-k…
Your point that “many of us are using messangers as defacto social networks” is spot on.I remember a conversation with my niece where she didn’t want grandma to follow her on Instagram because she thought that was “creeper”. LOLBut the underlying point I took away was, that generation has internalized the idea of finding alternate social networks to segment their social life from family life. Perhaps many of us already do that with colleagues on Linkedin.
It is true that my core mantra that every day I wake up and see myself in the middle of life is becoming more of a lie daily!
funny–it the little I do to help out there, working retail channels is just fun. started out doing that, building mass distribution, building national merchandising teams. nothing like touching the customer to understand how to sell.