tsu, a new social network that pays 90% of its ad revenues to its users, launched a few days ago, backed with $7 million of venture capital.
An invitation-only platform, it certainly looks very similar to Facebook, which I’m sure is deliberate, so anything tsū does must be considered relative to the social media giant.
Functionally, tsū is currently a lot thinner than Facebook (I can’t see a way to set up pages or groups, for example), but what is there should be quite familiar.
It will be ad-supported, but you have to contact their ad department by email right now. There’s no self-serve functionality yet.
On Facebook, You Are the Product!
I’m drawn to the idea that the network will recycle 90% of its ad revenue back to the members who post the content. One of my main gripes with Facebook is that it automatically owns all the content that we, its users, post, and keeps 100% of the revenue generated by ads.
On tsū, YOU own your content, as well as getting compensated out of the corporate pot the more often your content is viewed and interacted with.
With its compensation package, tsū maybe onto something. However, it will have to gain critical mass.
Google+ has 540 million monthly users (according to Wikipedia), although they have over a billion registered accounts, but this report claims only 35% of its users are active (compared to around 50% of Facebook users). I suspect much of that massive growth has come from Google pushing users of its other services like YouTube to set up Google+ profiles. It’s usage, not user numbers, that will matter over time.
If tsū is going to gain significant market share, it needs to start getting a lot of Facebook users at least to try out the service. In addition to retaining your own copyright, I think the innovative revenue model will help.
From what I can see, you need to earn $100 in credit in order to qualify for a payout. tsū does give you handy analytics to show you how much you’re earning.
It also cleverly uses a two-tiered MLM-style model, so you get a percentage of the fees earned by anyone you refer, and anyone they refer (grandchildren).
(So my advice is to get involved right now at early-doors. If it takes off, this could provide a useful passive revenue channel.)
My Thoughts on How it Might Succeed
My gut feel for this new platform is that it will need to target its own natural innovator / early-adopter crowd in order to get traction in the market.
(If you’re not familiar with the diffusion of technology curve, check out Crossing the Chasm on Wikipedia.)
That would seem (to me) to be the group of people who share an anti-Facebook sentiment. They’re likely to be the most pro-active.
What you don’t want when creating any new social platform is dead accounts. That’s like having a party with empty rooms. If you need to create a buzz, you must get the right people in first.
So who’s anti-Facebook, that’s the question? I’d be looking at free-thinking subcultures, along the lines of the Occupy movement.
However, there are challenges. Until they have group functionality similar to Facebook’s, there is limited scope for those kind of folks to use tsū for organisation, which is clearly one of their primary requirements.
I would also like to see more from tsū over time about freedom of information, privacy, etc. That could put further clear blue water between it and the incumbent Goliath.
When you’re facing a Goliath, you need to be radically different. tsū is not going to challenge Facebook by trying to be like Facebook. It needs radical differentiation. I think they should choose the rights lobby as their radical edge.