What do you do when you’re part of a social network company with 100 million members in 200 countries who love to get tagged? Steve Sarner, VP of Marketing at Tagged.com, is working on that challenge right now.
Oh, by the way, he’d loved the firm to generate $100 million in revenue. Not bad for a growing group of some 30 to 40 people with high hopes and big plans.
The company bills itself as the leading social network for meeting new people. While others–like Facebook–are meeting places for friends and relatives, this online haven likes the term “social discovery.”
And the team is very patient about producing their first movie, which Steve says won’t be called “The Tagged.” That should cut an enormous amount of litigation for which Facebook is well-known.
Drawing from a diverse group of people worldwide, Tagged attracts a wide diversity of people who want to connect, whether through online chatting, social gaming, flirting, virtual gifts or advanced browsing. And over 10,000 of them are even willing to shell out $20 a month for VIP membership, unheard of at most social network sites.
Hispanics, Afro Americans and women in their 30’s and 40’s come to the site in droves. Globally, Tagged’s tentacles reach out to the U.K., Egypt, the Netherlands and all points in any direction, with 20% hitting the site from the U.S.
Since Facebook emerged, social networking entrepreneurs have waved white flags and conceded to the 700 pound gorilla.
Curiously, Tagged has an 80% overlap with the behemoth, and Sarner proudly claims that his social network comes first among members.
In the Beginning…
After God created the Earth, water, animals and people, next came social networks. While my order of historical events may be wrong, it’s hard for anyone to live their life without tweeting, posting online and playing games, preferably on souped-up androgynous or iPhonish smartphones. God created those next, followed by the Pope’s “Confession,” a Roman Catholic app helping the wayward prepare to reveal their sins. He might have referred them to Tagged as well.
That’s good for Steve and his business. Since launching iPhone and Android apps, members have wirelessly connected in droves on the company’s servers for mobile flirt chat. That’s raised the bar on Android sites (Tagged.com is now #3 ) with 10% of total traffic coming from mobile phones. (Tagged announced a BlackBerry version in June, 2011.)
What Do We Do Now?
After a few years of email spam and other legal actions against the company, Greg Tseng, the company’s CEO and founder, like Paul in the Bible hit by lightning and falling off his horse, saw the light. Per Steve, he’s leading and growing his team into a real business, bringing aboard some heavyweights from area tech firms.
In my audio interview with Sarner, we talk about the foibles of Facebook, which somehow keeps discovering flaws protecting member’ privacy, helped no doubt by marketers and advertisers who love behavioral profiling of social networkers. Steve says the company is developing policies and capabilities to keep “aggregator” marketing firms away from Tagged, reducing the chance that a mortuary will tag you as a likely candidate needing its immediate services.
Mobile and the Social Networking Phenomenon
Few doubt that access to Web-enabled mobile phones worldwide is driving social networking. Facebook has seen its mobile users grow to 50-60% of total membership (650 million and growing faster than a guy on steroids). The unbelievably huge smartphone adoption rate is making Tagged.com and other organizations rise into the stratosphere. People of all ages are jumping aboard this fast-moving train, powered by smartphone apps.
Mobile’s multi-channel capacity–voice, photos, video, Web–has changed an entire generation of people into walking wireless beings. We now keep our phones within nine fee. As many people say, you might leave your home without your wallet but not your phone.
The Morgan-Stanley Mobile Internet study and others continue pointing to this marvelous device that informs, entertains and connects billions across the globe. So if you find yourself get tagged, labeled in a photo, invited to a virtual game or geolocated, there’s a good chance it happened on a phone.
Links for further information about Tagged.com and Steve Sarner
Steve Sarner (LinkedIn Profile)
Wikipedia – The Story of Tagged.com
Tagged Blog – Moving on Mobile
San Francisco Business Times: Tagged Great Place to Work
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