If I could gather the thoughts of my five most stylish friends before I bought a new piece of clothing, I could avoid a lot of those awkward “what were you thinking?” moments. But group text messages or emails are a pain in the ass, and I don’t always want to publish my question for the world to see on a social network.
Asking questions and giving feedback is foundational activity among groups of friends. Today’s social tools make this process too complicated to get any meaningful response. In most cases, the line between public and private is too hard to distinguish, and the friction in submitting a response is too high.
Newly released “social ask” app PodNod has developed a solution powerful in its utter simplicity. PodNod boils the question and response interaction to its basic elements. Users can upload a picture to be sent along with a text-based message to a private group of friends or a more public network like Facebook or Twitter.
Recipients then get two simple response options, a “nod” meaning yes, or a “nah” meaning a shake of the head. The company describes the latter as the first “socially acceptable negative” available anywhere. To further remove friction, there’s no requirement to download or open the app to respond. Recipients only need access to a browser and to be able to tap one of two large buttons.
The simplicity of the solution might pose a problem with copycat competitors. The company would be wise to determine what exactly is defensible here and to double down on those features.
The general premise of crowdsourcing opinions at decision time is a natural one. The company has a few celebrity advisors who rolled out the product to test its impact on engagement. The results were pretty impressive.
TV host and designer Genevieve Gorder asked her Twitter followers what they thought about her leopard pants via PodNod. The question got 1,703 views and 199 responses, with 12 additional comments. By comparison, she asked a similar question about a leopard shirt using Lockerz to host the picture and got only 700 views, but no responses and no comments. Similar results appeared in multiple instances with Gorder and the company’s other advisor David Bromstad.
Okay, so maybe they’re onto something here. But what’s the longer term vision? CEO Dave Mager tells me that this is just a beta product and that his company has big visions around ecommerce.
Down the road PodNod plans to use this tool to develop a product graph and drive smarter purchasing decisions. With people regularly asking their friends for recommendations about products they’re considering purchasing, the company can gather powerful insights into user’s tastes, what’s popular, and who’s influential on a given subject.
Then at the “moment of decision” the company hopes to push targeted offers, deals, or advertisements in a way that users welcome and receive value from. This is always a fine line and there’s no telling whether they can toe it properly. That said, the premise of product graph data is extremely interesting and something tons of companies and investors are trying to capture.
But this is just a future step on the product roadmap. At the moment, PodNod is a fun and engaging way to gather input. Mager described the current tool as a way to “add Facebook levels of interaction to Twitter.” In the case of publicly shared questions, this is about right.
As it is today, I can see myself using the private question asking option more than the public one. The good news is I can see myself using it.
The company is self-funded to date, however with their public beta now launched, they are beginning discussions around raising seed financing.