New Social Networking Communities Thrive On Shared Interests

A new problem has arisen in the world of social networking. Whilst reported time spent is at an all-time high research claims that users are interacting less and less with content.

Market research firm GlobalWebIndex reported in the third quarter of 2015, 34% of Facebook users updated their status, and 37% shared their own photos, down from 50% and 59% respectively in the same period last year.

There are 1.55 billion active Facebook users, and more than 900 million visit the site daily. It has been reported that the average U.S. adult spends 37 minutes on Facebook every day — almost as much as the estimated 43 minutes of human face-to-face interaction.

The giants of Facebook and Twitter are doing all they can to keep users engaged within the domain. However new startups with fresh ideas, such as YouGather are proposing entirely different models — that drive interaction through shared interests and communities.

We spoke to Ashton Morgan, Director of Channel Development Sports at YouGather to discover how her team are connecting online communities through shared passions and experiences.

How are consumer behaviors evolving in your specific industry, why is your product important and what problem does this solve?
 Consumers are continuously looking for new and easier ways to connect online. Not only have we found a unique way to organize the fragmented internet, but we have also created a place that people can easily connect, share and enjoy photos, videos, news, products and discuss topics or have a live chat in one space! We are connecting people around the things they love and helping them make new relationships in the process.

Why do you think so many social networks are experiencing a drop in interactions and personal sharing?
 That’s just it, social media is becoming less personal. While users are still spending a lot of time on social networks the fact that they are engaging less means they are still searching for something more meaningful. People want authentic relationships and they are not finding them currently on social media. We all see enough about everyone’s general life (i.e. what Sally had for Breakfast or that Joe is mad at his neighbor for mowing the lawn at 7 a.m.) and people are losing interest. YouGather is all about sharing and connecting around the things you love in a community where everyone has the same interests. I want my online experience to mirror my real life and passions, and YouGather helps me do that.

Please describe your personal journey in the creation of your business.
 My journey with YouGather has been an amazing learning experience. Our CEO and founder Jeremey Charbonnet, started his first software development and consulting company at the age of 14 and has graced the world with many big ideas and problem solving products. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with someone who is so passionate about creating a platform that will change the way people enjoy the things they love in the digital world. He pushes us to challenge the normal standard of thinking and because of that we continue to improve and drive innovation on the platform.

How does your product differentiate itself from your competitors, or current alternatives?
 We are connecting people around their interests and bringing great content to them based on those selected interests. We don’t try to influence users based on what we think they like (or what data tells us), we let them choose to join the communities they are interested in and help them connect with people who have the same interests. We bring all corners of social media to one place in a more meaningful way.

Who are your customers, and how is this evolving with the emergence of new technologies?
 Our customers are anyone who uses the internet or social media sites to find more information about the things they love. YouGather has given people an organized place to enjoy their interests in over 40,000 communities where they can connect with others that have the same interest.

What trends currently excite you in this industry?
 People’s growing desire to connect in an easier way around the things that they really love. I really think we have created a unique place for people to easily connect with others and information based solely on their interests.

What is your for future growth and development of your product?

We continue to do user testing to see how we can improve the YouGather experience and are excited to continue to improve our mobile app so that users get the best experience on every device they use.

What are your personal favorite communities — and how do you use them?
 Some of our biggest communities are related to sports. I highly encourage you to check out our NFL, MLB and NBA communities along with the different team’s in their sub-communities.

Do YouGather community relationships ever translate to the real world — face to face interactions?
 Yes. The experience is started on our platform and the meaningful relationships created translate to the real world. Say you love to spearfish and you are part of the spearfishing community on YouGather. While in the community you are connecting with other people who have the same interests by exchanging advice, photos and learning information to plan your next trip. As people share information around their love for spearfishing, they are eventually going to take their new information and put it into action. This opens the door of opportunity to not just talk about spearfishing with someone online but invite them to participate in the activity you both are passionate about.

What do you think a steady rise in online time spent means for society and they way we interact with one another?
 I think it’s a double edge sword. On one hand, knowledge is power and the ability to consume information and communicate with such ease has changed the world. On the other hand, people often get so wrapped up in how they are perceived by their online friends that they stop making meaningful relationships outside their social media profile. That’s what we are here to change.

Our goal isn’t for our users to create a mass number of friendships but instead to help people to build meaningful relationships around the things they love. The number of friends you have isn’t a badge of honor on YouGather, but sharing what you love is.


Originally published at thestartupmag.com on January 4, 2016.

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