Zloop: Is this the next social network?

zloopLast night I had the chance to talk to Brent Myers, an evangelist for Zloop. Zloop is a new social network that is built around two general concepts:

  1. Security. Your “loops” are private to whom you invite.
  2. Mimics real life. You can control which loops see which side of you.

If you are looking for a more detailed description, here is Zloop’s description: About zloop
(pdf file)

Last night I got an invite and created a few loops. At this point, it’s clear that zloop is in a late Alpha, maybe early Beta testing mode. There are some cool features to this idea and some weaknesses. Here’s what I like/dislike so far.

Like

  • General concept is cool. Kind of like a combo to Facebook/Linkedin. I like being able to manage different
  • File sharing ability. Yup, attachments are cool.
  • Privacy. Cool idea.
  • Loops. Like that I can keep relationships separate, as needed.

Dislikes

  • Missing some obvious components. Web 2.0 site with no RSS? No ability to search loops? No ability to find friends? Weird.
  • No rules. There is no TOS statement… can’t believe it! There’s nothing that stop hate groups or hate loops. Major problem here.
  • It is another profile to manage. Who needs that?

If this were something I could install on my servers, run it as my brand, and manage it within a terms of service… this would be an incredible tool for YMX. But it’s not. As cool as it is I really wonder if it will take off as the current version is not significantly better than Facebook. It has potential, it’s worth checking out, but right now… it’s got some “cool factor” to inject.

Don’t take my word for it, try it! Leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite.

Comments

8 responses to “Zloop: Is this the next social network?”

  1. Gman Avatar

    I’m intrigued!!

  2. Steve Blanchard Avatar

    Hey, you can’t post about this because I’m talking with one of the guys today to post on my blog – jj

    I’m interested today to find out more from my telephone conversation. You’ll be able to see what I say about it sometime this weekend.

  3. Brett A. Meyers Avatar

    Adam,

    Thanks again for your time last night – it was great to connect over the phone.

    Some clarifier’s for your readers out there – we are most definitely not a social network and look to resist being classified as such. You touched on it in your ‘Dislikes’ when you stated ‘There is no way to search loops – and no way to search for friends.’ This is by design. Social networking sites let you find and network with people you’ve never even met – this is not the intention of ZLoop.

    ZLoop is a site dedicated to providing a tool for ‘real world’ communities to connect and interact. Churches, schools, classes, youth groups, businesses, friend groups, etc. ZLoop uses the dynamic tools that social sites use, but it would be an inaccurate classification to group us into that space. ZLoop is an application that wants you to give a private and secure online home to your youth group community – something that can’t be done with Facebook. Facebook/MySpace/etc are open communities whose metaphor does not support the contextual separation that we use to manage and rule our everyday lives. They’re all great ways to ‘find new friends online’ but no way to connect with your students in a private online space. ZLoop wants people to have a tool that isn’t ‘another profile to manage’ but rather ‘the place they connect with all of their communities online.’

    Would love to talk with anyone interested in hearing more! My cell number is 805-459-6139 feel free to call anytime, would love to chat on how our tool can strengthen your communities…

  4. Jim (3.0) Avatar

    Hey Adam,
    We have a pretty different interaction metaphor which is often difficult to communicate at first. While we don’t think of ourselves as a ‘social network’ since there really is no ZLoop social network, we are a tool that a real world community can use to extend their community online. One of the tools we provide those communities is the ability to ‘social network’ within the context of every private loop. So there is some social networking that will be going on (by the way, within each loop there is full search across all the members information). But the social networking component is just one of many tools we provide in every loop, along with full conversations/forums, file sharing, image sharing, a common event schedule…and more to come. Thanks for taking the time to look in to this Adam! Really appreciate it.

  5. adam mclane Avatar

    Defensive much? Here I am trying to tell people about your idea by using a term that they are comfortable and accustomed too… and you’re confusing things.

    It is a social networking site by every definition I know. I’m not sure how else you could define it? It looks like any other social networking site, it acts in much the same way as the other social networking sites… so should I refer to it as a social-looping site?

    Resisting that definition when the site looks and acts EXACTLY like the most popular social networking sites on the planet… I don’t get it. I must be stupid.

    There are a couple of differences I’ve seen so far that are notable.
    – Monetization strategy is different. I don’t get it, I don’t personally think it’ll work… but it is significantly different from myspace and actually strikingly similar to social ads on Facebook. (I’ve used social… sounds exactly like what was described to me by Brent)
    – Private loops. This is different. I’m being blunt in saying that I don’t like it too much. I think there should be a mix of public and private loops to get people used to using the site.
    – File attachments. Honestly, this is the only thing that is truly unique. Problem is… if it starts pulling traffic from Facebook or Myspace… I can see Myspace and Facebook both adding it.

    I’m not saying I don’t like Zloop. It’s clear to me that the site is mostly ready for public release… but there are some annoyances that will shake out as you add more users. The things I listed as things I don’t like are meant to be helpful… those are things I’d be looking at if I were going to build out a loop for my YG or whatever.

    At the same time, I think I’m entitled to my own opinions. I sat through the demo, I asked questions, I invited my friends, etc. I’m not an evangelist nor apologist for zloop. I guess I don’t get the pushback. Help me out. What gives?

  6. Brett A. Meyers Avatar

    Adam,

    I apologize for any ‘defensive’ tone or language in my original comment. That was not my intent – the reason we resist it is because we’re looking to communicated to people that is is actually a much different medium of interaction. We think it better fits with real life than the chaos that often ensues with millions of users in an open social network site. That said – all of your comments were valid and there are a fair number of similarities, and ‘social networking’ is something that people ‘get and understand.’

    The pushback comes from our desire for people to look at ZLoop and see it as something different than what’s already out there – we’re simply trying to resist the ‘not another social network’ because that wasn’t how ZLoop was built.

    That said – I (and we) do appreciate you taking the time to connect on a demo and for giving people notice of our site.

  7. Jim (3.0) Avatar

    Hey Adam, I think the difficulty for us comes from being so close to it and seeing how people are using it in some very different ways. For sure, sometimes it looks very much like a social network and in many ways it is. For instance, last week we had a church create a loop for a 1500 member ministry they have. Now, one week later that particular loop looks very much like a social network because of all the people in it and all the social interaction going on in it. Still, the reason we resist being described as a ‘social network’ is because for every one of these loops that are emphasizing the ‘social networking’ aspect, there are many more that use ZLoop for collaboration and for purposes that look nearly identical to what you would use something like Basecamp for. People are creating loops for mapping all their projects at work, for connecting their board members, for connecting work teams. We’ve got some attorneys using it with some of their clients, etc. That kind of activity is actually what we see more often and those loops really don’t look like social networks. So, you are absolutely right…if you want ZLoop to serve as a social network for your own communities, it will do that. It’s just that If you want it serve as a heavy duty collaboration tool, it will do that too. It’s all in how you set your loop up and the purpose you need it for. I think we are just looking at it through these two different lenses…
    Again, thanks so much for taking a good look at it and reviewing it. We know we have an unlimited amount of work to do to improve the product and you help us a ton with this kind of feedback. Please forgive the poor tone of the first set of comments. We’ve got some learning to do.

  8. Gman Avatar

    But even the Zloop introduction and home page has it as a private social collaboration. thus in reality they are a social network only claiming to have more privacy. I’d like to see how that is done though since Facebook and myspace have been undermoreso attack and have to have more privacy issues as well with lawsuits and predators outthere!

    I don’t know. Seems odd ot me.

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