The Visioning Room

Startup Snapshot: Envolve

Envolve Brings In The Blog Community With Chat Software

Online communities are on a rise. Although larger scaled ones such as that of the Twitterverse and Facebook communities (particularly groups) are incredibly popular, there is something inherently more personal about the smaller scale, tightly knit interactions to be found on other sites. Envolve – a startup online chat software that just launched in July – is an easy way to foster a community directly on your blog via a simple chat feature.

At The Core

People are much more willing to actively and quickly chat with other users that they can see online rather than communicate via commenting on a blog to what feels more like the potential of an audience rather than the more tangible one of a viewable chat room. Users can log in anonymously, via Twitter or Facebook or even the site’s own user database with single sign-on. This encourages users of the site to communicate with one another and develop a stronger, more tightly knit community.

The use of this platform would be phenomenal in a live blogging situation. Its use could revive blogs and hedge concerns of blogging’s death (see NYTimes Post: I for one like the conversation centered on a thought provoking article. I can see this enhancing the interaction between a blogger and his community in live podcasts, videocasts, and reporting around live events (such as Apples event next week –

It’s Customizable; It’s Easy

Options for Envolve are customizable, being a white-label product. It easily integrates into many blog formats through either plugins (WordPress, Joomla, Blogger, Tumblr, and more) or API. With a chat feature, Envolve also provides blog owners with a new form of analytics based on public chat transcriptions and tracking of how often chats are used based on real time statistics.

Instant translation is a fantastic feature. I haven’t seen anything like what Envolve does to open the conversation globally, and its appeal gives new meaning to what entails being social.

The Wait and See

While the app is a great initial implementation, I think it would be very appealing to integrate my social graph with the concept of making new connections in one app. It allows for a continuation of the conversation after I’ve made new friends.

That’d also make signing in with Facebook or Twitter more appealing. I am really digging Disqus (DISQUS is a comments platform that helps you build an active community from your website’s audience) lately, and wish more sites would use it but, frankly, also getting annoyed when it’s not available. Pair these two services, and I see a winner.

I’ve got no problem with the pricing model. I am glad to see them attempting to monetize. Currently, that plan for monetizing Envolve is via their premium packages. While it could be a deterrent to the individual blogger with minimal traffic, I can see premium subscriptions being adopted by blogs with a reasonably active following of fans that pounce on new posts.

I can also see it changing the way businesses use live blogging to communicate new information about their products and getting involved in real-time conversations post announcement. This type of tech could replace small webinar interactions in the long run and provide new opportunities for businesses to connect with new prospects. That said, it’d have to morph from its current form to support this type of use.

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