It’s a bit of an industry hazard that whenever I see the word beta, I find myself typing in my contact details without even reading what it’s for… but last week I got to try out the beta version of the new site memoLane.com which lets you pull a lifetime’s worth of your social media activity into one place.
Depending on how prolific you are across your various channels, it can take a little while to see what it is you were taking photos of and shouting about this time five years ago, but it’s worth the patience for a one-off slice of virtual nostalgia.
Where the site falters is with its attempt to be a social media network itself.
You’re encouraged to become memoLane friends with other users and collaborate on arranging past content into stories – something Facebook’s ‘See Friendship’ feature does in one click, without the need for you and your mates to register for yet another service.
Also, whilst memoLane pulls in everything from your Foursquare to Vimeo activity, the likes of Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress are missing. People most likely to embrace memoLane are the more egocentric of internet users who probably have blogs of some form or another that they value as much or more than their 2005 Twitter rants or photographs of their birthday party the year before last.
MemoLane’s “interesting for half an hour but not for daily use” offering highlights the importance of considering how helpful new tools might be before going ahead and developing them. As nice as an idea it might be, has it got longevity and the construct to keep bringing in and retaining users, or will it become a dormant asset that drops off your social media channels a month after launch?
For brands deciding what their next online asset should be, aiming for long term usefulness rather than a one minute web wonder will provide far greater return on investment.
An application on the Facebook page of a removals van hire company that puts your profile picture on the side of their vehicle might faintly amuse for half a second, but a branded application for the same company that informs friends of a new address, helps to book a van and keep a checklist throughout the stressful moving period would actually assist users and in turn, have them build an association between the business and expertise within its field.
Here are some of my favourite branded utilities that serve a purpose alongside putting a logo and website address in front of my eyes on a near daily basis. They’re all mobile based as that’s the device I always have with me and of course, you can’t see Facebook wall tabs besides on a computer.
There are now lots of running iPhone apps out there, this is the first and only one I’ve used as it offers everything I need. With a couple of taps you can be on your way, tracking your job and keeping a record of your performance to help you improve your time/distance on your next run. Friends can cheer you on from your Facebook page to provide a nice pick me up when you’re starting to lag and you can easily share your route when you’ve caught your breath.
Once all of that running’s out of the way, there’s no finer treat than a giant pizza to undo all of the hard work. This app makes that happen really smoothly, without having to tackle bad quality phone lines, misunderstanding of address or card details and phone calls to find out where your order is. The ease of it all in turn provides the business with a lot more orders than they’d otherwise get from me.
The previous overview may suggest otherwise, but dinner’s often an afterthought when I’m out and about, catching up with friends over a pint. As a Tastecard member, this app’s really handy for finding out what participating restaurants are nearby, what they serve, how people have found their visits and how to get there, in turn promoting the use of the service.
There is possibly an argument to say that one-use services feed into the innovation of other sites – in a year’s time will another company be able to use memoLane’s interface to create something both useful and interesting? But until everything is both useful and interesting, I suggest we prioritise the useful. Disagree? Let us know.