Could Austin’s SocialSmack be the next big thing in social media?
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With a tight-knit and supportive tech community and the annual South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference, Austin has cemented itself as hotbed for online and technology startups. In recognition for its sustainable growth and numerous business opportunities, Austin was recently ranked as the Best City for the Next Decade by MSN. “Austin is arguably the country’s best crucible for small business…where hippie communalism coexists with no-nonsense capitalism.” One of the latest soon-to-be Texas success stories is SocialSmack. Hot on the heels of Austin’s own Gowalla, Matt Curtin and his SocialSmack team are poised to make the next big splash in social media.
Although the site is still in the very early stages of its Beta launch, it already has a very passionate and active following in Austin and beyond. Examiner recently had the opportunity to ask the CEO and founder a few questions about what could be Austin’s next big contribution to the ever evolving online landscape.
EXAMINER: So, in the words of the founder, what exactly is SocialSmack?
MATT CURTIN: SocialSmack is a web and mobile environment powered by the real-time social stream, making it fun and easy for anyone to participate in conversations about their brand experiences while earning points, badges and increased status in a social-game environment. We capture the “pulse of the passionate consumer” and give people an amplified voice to be heard by the brands they engage with their hard earned money.
Smack is represented as both “Props” for good brands (products, services, places, etc) and “Drops” for the bad. I am very happy to say that this has not simply become a rant site for people to trash on brands that don’t meet consumer’s expectations. The majority of the feedback is positive, and the community has also helped people discover cool local brands they may not had heard of otherwise.
EX: When was your official Beta launch date, and what are your plans for a full launch?
MC: Although our Beta is live, we are not launched yet. We are currently seeking feedback from the community on how to make the experience on the platform better, and plan to officially launch towards the end of the year.
EX: What can we expect to see in the future? What we see now seems to lend itself to a location-aware mobile app.
MC: We have a significant roadmap we are developing to, and what you see currently out there is a small percentage of the great things to come. We are working on a mobile roadmap, location awareness, a broader rewards system and some great partnerships that I am stoked to announce.
EX: Did Social Smack have any presence at 2010’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) Conference?
MC: We were present at SXSW, but attended more to network and socialize the idea than to market SocialSmack. We received some great feedback, insights and advice and are incorporating some of that feedback into the branding and the business.
EX: As a social media/tech professional, what value do you see in attending SXSWi?
MC: The greatest value of SXSW to me was the ability to network with such a high concentration of really smart people in the technology and social space. There were also many great opportunities to learn in the breakouts. As a Founder and CEO of a startup, sitting in the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator event was invaluable to me.
EX: Is this a space for brands to fill out profile and offer value to people who “prop” them and answers to people who “drop” them, or is it purely consumer facing?
MC: I have a VERY ambitious plan for this business, and that is to improve the entire consumer engagement model – for both the consumers and the brands. So while we are working hard towards improving the UX for the community of consumers, we are building in parallel to a roadmap that will drive value for the brands.
EX: Aside from the Social Smack T-shirt you can often be seen wearing, what have you done to build buzz so far?
MC: We are not launched yet, so the awareness we have been raising is more to build a manageable Beta community to understand what people want out of SocialSmack. The feedback has been incredible. I am very pleased to say that people love to talk smack about the things they buy, see and do. We have a launch plan for when we do decide to officially blow the doors open, but I can’t spill the beans on that quite yet.
EX: Do you see Social Smack as a complementary service to the existing social media platforms out there, or as a direct competitor?
MC: I see us as a very complimentary service to many of the existing social platforms that exist out there today. I was told by someone the other day to “check-in on Gowalla or Foursquare, and check-out with your feedback on SocialSmack.” I love our community!