A few years ago, when I was still very far from web development, I really wanted to have my own website. All the cool kids had one. And so I started messing with free web hosting and their site builders, but that still wasn't cool enough for me. That’s when I ran into a site that could quickly and easily make a CdV website. I was amazed by the page editing functionality, for at that time it was very advanced. But when I created a page I had nothing to do with it, so I forgot about it for a while. Until…
One day, I received an e-mail notification from about.me: “John Smith and 5 others viewed your about.me page”. I had completely forgotten about it, so a message like that came as a real surprise. I decided to check what it was all about and was pleasantly surprised.
While I was gone, the service had transformed into a fully-fledged social network. Not exactly what we are used to seeing, but still quite interesting and unique.
The main difference, which you can notice during the first few minutes, is that nearly everyone you find on about.me are real. They’re not the faceless “Friends” from Facebook, but living people. Here I see a WordPress developer from Taiwan, and there, a country singer from California. Next to him – a student from Africa and the owner of a startup in Switzerland. A Japanese photographer, a rapper from Brookline, a Tolkien fanatic from Siberia. There they are – all together. But let’s discuss how the service is different from other social networks.
About.me is different from other social networks in the following ways:
There are no news feeds or timelines. The only thing you are notified about is other people’s activity on your page: they can browse it, like it or add it to one of their collections.
There are no Friends. You can add people to one of your collections to make something like a makeshift notebook full of contacts.
No personal messages.
All the social features are just bonuses to its main function – making your CdV.
Deep integration with any other social network by use of its own App Center, which any service can add its application to. That’s right, developers get a fully-functioning and well-documented SDK, which they can use to add their apps into the App Center. But more on that later.
Like me like I’m like you
All the communication in about.me is basically reduced to browsing people’s pages and showing your sympathy. For example, there are 10 different “likes” in about.me:
Love your page
I’m a fan
So you can not only compliment someone on their photo, but also tell them how cool you think they are.
By the way, these likes are very interactive. You can reply to every compliment, either just by saying “thanks” or possibly adding a suggestion as well: Thanks, I’d love to…
... Explore collaboration
... Bounce an idea off of you
... Meet for coffee
... Connect when you’re in my town
... Meet for drinks
As you can see, about.me is focused on friendly interaction between its users.
A couple of words about the SDK. When you add something to the App Center you don’t just add an icon with a link to your webpage. About.me realizes the inline functionality of the social network or service so a visitor can check out your Instagram photos, read your Tweeter posts and have a look at your LinkedIn profile. You no longer need to look through a dozen of your profiles – they’re all here. I’d recommend all social network owners to have a look at this service as it is full of useful instruments and supports integration and not competition.
Apart from the SDK, about.me has a very flexible API, capable of many things, from remotely creating or even deleting (sic!) a page to pulling the information about a specific user. But, of course, it still isn’t as all powerful as, for example, Facebooks API.
In just a few years, About.me has turned into a very powerful service for both normal users and the owners of other social networks, as well as for almost any business. 99% of the pages on about.me belong to actual people, although company bots are appearing more and more often. They aren’t very popular, by the way. The pages of senior company executive as the faces of their companies are, however. For example, our SVP, Travel & Hospitality has a page on about.me =)