Interview with Josh Decker (Tagboard)
Tagboard is a social media website that aggregates hashtagged posts.
I interviewed Josh Decker, Tagboard founder and CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and fifty eighth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Josh!
How would you describe Tagboard in under 50 words?
Tagboard is the hub for hashtags. We show the entire conversation by pulling in content from the top social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and others. We display it in an interactive format that increases engagement and creates community around a hashtag.
Did hashtags themselves inspire you to create the site Tagboard?
Over two years ago, I came up with the idea that the hashtag could be the best way to bring together all of the disconnected and siloed conversations and communities. My theory was that if we could bring them together, it would be a much more powerful and engaging experience. Our goal is to break down the walls that currently exist between the different social networks to really promote discovery and engagement. In doing so, we believe that we actually provide meaningful value to those networks by encouraging their growth models.
Do you experience competition from other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook or do you see yourself as totally different to them?
Tagboard is not a replacement for existing social experiences, isn’t trying to be yet-another-social-client, and doesn’t seek to create yet-another-social-network. Users on Tagboard are required to log-in with their social network profiles in order to interact with the respective networks’ content. Instead of building our own network, our goal is to augment and enhance user engagement with each of the social networks by making the user experience more powerful. We actually see that users’ engagement with the source networks is often greater when Tagboard is involved – there is a greater purpose, as their posts have a broader reach beyond the walls of their limited social graph. We want to be a partner to the social networks, and are very purposeful in adhering to all display standards in order to provide users with a consistent and familiar experience.
Smartphones and iPads have become increasingly popular, is Tagboard available for mobile devices?
We certainly agree that mobile is going to be a very important piece of the puzzle – arguably the most important! Our site is currently mobile responsive for smartphones and tablets. In fact, my favorite way to use Tagboard is on my iPad mini. However, we know that client apps are often the best way to connect with mobile users. We have several mobile developers on staff, and will begin the mobile client app buildout very soon. We will start with iOS, and then quickly add both Android and Windows Mobile.
I notice that you’re currently aggregated to four social media sites, do you experience technical difficulties in keeping up to date with new social sites?
We had to start somewhere, and the four we added were purposeful because of their market share, and in App.net’s case, because of the values that they have proposed. We have a list of other networks that we will be adding in the future; in no particular order they include: Vine, YouTube, WordPress, Tumblr, Google+, Foursquare, Tout, and others.
We want people to be able to contribute to the #hashtag conversation using whatever platform is easiest, and or most appropriate for content of the post. We also think that by lowering the barrier to entry to join the conversation, more people will contribute, creating a very powerful and engaging experience.
Who do you see as your key target audience? Which way do you find best to reach them?
Tagboards are meant as tools for brands, marketers, community leaders, and other campaign managers who wish to capture the momentum of hashtag campaigns across social networks. Our goal for these parties is to broaden the reach of their hashtag campaigns, and to deepen user engagement. But, since tagboards are public-facing, their design delivers a familiar, easy-to-use, and accessible end-user experience.
We also want end users to make Tagboard their primary destination for hashtag interaction. We are just now building our outbound marketing and promotional functions. Until now, all of our momentum and customer traction has been nearly 100% inbound.
Do you see the business market as an interesting market for you to expand in to?
Yes. While we’re wholly committed to creating a powerful user experience, enterprises and marketers are our actual clients. We believe that by providing brands with a powerful discovery engagement tool, they will be more likely to engage in cross-platform hashtag campaigns.
We offer them really great features like moderation, curation, branding, embedding, analytics and LIVE mode for events, etc. We have many customers who have used our technology including Audi, Weight Watchers, Keen Footwear, ClearChannel, YouTube, The Roxy Theatre and others.
Do you think that hashtags will go out of fashion? If so how would you diversify Tagboard in order to remain competitive in the future?
I truly think we are witnessing the birth of the hashtag and that its potential is just starting to be realized. I believe that it could be the next URL, and become embedded as a core part of the online experience.
On your website it claims just because you come up with a hashtag doesn’t mean you ‘own’ it, have you experienced issues of ownership?
We believe that no one can own a hashtag. The only exception to this rule of course in the case of brands, who hold trademarks, and other likeness owners. We believe, however, that the hashtag is public domain, and that “ownership” can only be claimed by authentic influence over a hashtag through providing true value to the conversation around it. We do anticipate hashtag collisions, where multiple brands will want to use the same hashtag. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, we suggest that the more unique the hashtag, the better. Unique hashtags improve the signal-to-noise ratio – which results in a better experience for both users and brands.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Our biggest hurdle is that we are still a startup, and with that comes the challenge of keeping up with all the opportunities. We are growing fast, and now have 10 employees.
Our development backlog of features that we want to add is over 100 and although we want to do all these things right now, we have to prioritize. It is truly an exciting time, and the authentic user joy that we are seeing is empowering us to continue to push hard, and set high goals!
Has Tagboard got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
We have had amazing feedback, especially from our early partners like the University of Washington, Audi, and others. We have also reached out to many of our power users and asked them to let us know how we can improve. In fact, we often prefer the tough feedback – high-fives are nice, but we are always striving to improve the product. We’ve been known to thank people for feedback by sending them Tagboard swag! *hint hint*
You recently had a big day when you were given the opportunity to feature a live Tagboard page at the Open House party for YouTube’s new “Creator Space” in Los Angeles, can you tell us a bit more about this?
Yes, this was a really great way for us to show showcase Tagboard to a room full of very influential YouTube content creators and social media influencers. The results were amazing. One person told us that the Tagboard screen was the best part of the party. The authentic user joy – and engagement – that was evident in the posts was exactly what YouTube was hoping for, and they have asked to make Tagboard a permanent part of the YouTube Space experience.
We think that Tagboard is the perfect addition to any party or event to make it truly something special. You can see a full gallery of this awesome event on our Facebook page.
Have you got any exciting new ideas for Tagboard coming up in the near future?
I’d tell you, but then I’d have to… What I can share with you is that we are just getting started. One of the things I am most excited about is our analytics offerings. Behind the scenes we are adding meaningful analytics and analysis so that brands and community leaders have all the tools necessary to get the most out of their hashtag campaigns.
Where do you see Tagboard in 5 years time?
That is a tough question! My hope is that in 5 years the hashtag has gone from being a trend to becoming a lasting part of the way people connect together in a more meaningful way. And if Tagboard can play a role in that transformation then I will be proud of the job that we have done.
What are you most excited about at the moment for Tagboard?
We’re really excited by the fact that we can influence – and improve – how people interact using hashtags. Improving how the world communicates is actually one of our driving philosophies – really – and we’re motivated by the potential.
We’re also excited about the recent traction and interest. It is one thing to get a one-time spike in traffic due to a big event or a customer’s marketing campaign, but what we have seen lately is a huge increase in overall traffic. It has been organic and authentic, not the result of any advertising or promotion. Users are using Tagboard, and loving it enough to share. Also, I couldn’t be more excited about the team we have here. I’m truly a lucky guy to be surrounded by such amazing and talented people. If we become a success story, they will be the reason!
Finished reading? Check out Tagboard!