With frustration mounting over new Twitter policies, talk of alternatives continue to escalate. Especially on Twitter. Whether micro-AV sites (think Instagram, Socialcam, Viddy) could be part of that alternative remains to be seen.
Instagram didn't grow to the point of Facebook acquisition by only building its own platform. Twitter integration was critical to that success. The fact that Twitter seems determined to build its own interfaces now may mean similar companies will to have pull users to their own sites more often.
For Isaac Raichyk, founder and CEO of Keek, that was the plan all along. While the talk about short, social video has most often revolved around Viddy and Socialcam, which have both experienced massive growth the past year, Keek has been developing in a different way. Now 11-months old, Keek is growing steadily as opposed the rapid adoption of Socialcam and Viddy, with the latter benefiting from integration on Facebook, according to Web Pro News. Keek's community generated 1.9 million posts in the last month and staffers report 75 percent growth rate month-over-month, and that activity is landing squarely on the place Raichyk wants: his multiple platforms.
Viddy and Socialcam's growth was born of a very reasonable strategy — the real point was shooting content, giving it some flare and then sharing with the usual suspects of social media crowds — Twitter and Facebook.
For Keek, the key difference is how engagement is encouraged. Especially with its website, Keek is more like a combination of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter than its direct competitors. The initial interface takes you to a "Latest Keeks" tab, with a "Most Viewed" alternative. There are also topic-related "Klusters," which Raichyk explains below. There are rankings, comments, video responses — all the bells and whistles of Social Media. It's easy enough to narrow the search for one-on-one interaction by using other social connections, or location, gender and "kred" (a feedback-generated personality profile).
Like its competitors, celebrities are engaging the Keek platform. But while others boast Taylor Swift, Jay Z and Katie Couric, Keek's celebs skew younger, including 16-year-old singer Austin Mahone, who currently has the most followers with 200,000+. Looking for people my age (referred to as, ahem, "40+") I found Howie Mandel, who has close to 2,000 followers.
Not surprisingly, the Keek community skews young too — 85% are between the ages of 13-25, with 69% female engagement. Perhaps most hopeful for keek is two-thirds of those users were active last month.
The content follows the age range. The videos are light, relaxed, often silly. The time limit creates a high-energy, thin substance vibe, but it would be a mistake to write off Keek as only a fluff-maker, given what Twitter can accomplish 140 characters. The key question is whether rapid-fire video can produce that one-two punch Twitter is seeking right now: mass usage that stays on-site.
Yes, says Raichyk, who also discusses growth strategies, cloud expansion and the all-important question — who's Keek's competition?
Tell me about the core need Keek is addressing. And how did the idea come about?
Keek is an extremely fast and easy way to record and share video updates with your smartphone or webcam, the platform provides users with an alternative social networking experience that is authentic and personal. The idea came about during early research stages of a wearable video camera venture we were working on prior to Keek. Building a supplementary social component to support the wearable video camera product was part of the initial plan, we quickly realized there was a much larger opportunity and demand for a social video network, the rest is history.
Any guesses why female and young are a key demographic?
The youth of today clearly want to use video for both communication and entertainment. Keek is a place where people can interact and build communities through microvideo dialogue which is more informative and fun than traditional microblogging or photo sharing. Video sharing is clearly on the rise and is happening across generations, usage ranges from 92 percent of Millenials [or Generation Y], 80 percent of Generation X and 54 percent of Boomers, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center.
Tell me about Klusters.
The goal of Klusters is to provide users with new ways to join in on group discussions, explore new topics and watch real-time keeks related to current events. We're scanning millions of keeks daily using very sophisticated algorithms to detect engagement patterns and topics of interest. There is a lot of discussion happening on Keek and we want to facilitate this.
I'm curious about your strategy to grow. A group of celebrities are using the service and I wonder if you recruited them to build your brand. What are some other strategies for growth?
Product development is one of our core strategies for growth, we are obsessed with building the fastest product that is easy to use. Based on the number of positive reviews we're seeing in the US app store on iTunes, we know this is the primary reason we are growing so quickly. Keek is not just a great tool for celebrities to engage their fans, its also a fun new way for everyday people to communicate with friends and meet new people.
Video storage is not the easiest thing to scale. What are your infrastructure plans as the service grows?
The current challenge is ensuring users can continue to create, view and upload keeks as fast as possible. We recently installed 120 new dedicated servers to support the current growth rate. We've also developed a proprietary method that provides automatic cloud expansion for internal dedicated systems.
Who do you see as more likely direct competition down the road?
Keek is a very new and unique kind of product. People are using multiple social networks each and every day, our goal is to provide a service that not only enriches peoples lives but also becomes a part of their daily routine.
Are you investigating the possibility of keeks embedding directly into tweets?
No, not at this time. Our goal is to create a standalone and independent network.