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Potluck aims to turn lurkers into sharers with new iPhone app

Social media man­agers and com­mu­ni­ty man­agers will be famil­iar with an unwa­ver­ing pat­tern: only a small pro­por­tion of their com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers active­ly cre­ate. Now Potluck, a new link-shar­ing ser­vice, aims to break through this, con­vert­ing “lurk­ers” into cre­ators, thanks to the launch of an iPhone app.

From lurk­er to sharer?

The brain­child of the team who brought you Branch, the social con­ver­sa­tion plat­form, its co-founder and CEO, Josh Miller, describes the aim like this:

“There’s a rule on the Inter­net that 1 per­cent are going to cre­ate, 9 per­cent are going to curate, and 90 per­cent are going to be lurk­ers. So by def­i­n­i­tion, we’re work­ing uphill. But I actu­al­ly think the iOS app is a big part of why we think we’ll be able to over­come it, at least to some extent. [Mobile] feels like a much more inti­mate environment.”

With Potluck, users can post, share links, take part in con­ver­sa­tions about what they (or oth­ers) just shared and find friends.

The more skep­ti­cal social media man­ag­er might now be won­der­ing what’s so unique about Potluck, espe­cial­ly as there are oth­er link-shar­ing ser­vices out there (Digg and Red­dit amongst them). Potluck explores whether an app’s ease-of-use design can entice a big­ger per­cent­age of main­stream users to take part. Even rook­ie com­mu­ni­ty man­agers know that most com­mu­ni­ties don’t break out of Miller’s inter­net rule.

Con­tent before ego

But by putting con­tent before the egos of the shar­ers (links aren’t accom­pa­nied by shar­ers’ names or avatars), and sim­pli­fy­ing the shar­ing process itself, Potluck at the very least helps over­come shy­ness. Users only find out which of their friends is chat­ting about the shared item in the ‘room’ after click­ing through. And room sizes are small, which Miller believes will make them feel more approachable.

The pri­ma­ry aim of Potluck isn’t sim­ply to find links and read inter­est­ing stuff, although that’s there too. Instead, Miller explains, it encour­ages ret­i­cent users to hang out with oth­er peo­ple, new and famil­iar. He says:

“The pop­u­lar envi­ron­ment is actu­al­ly real­ly intim­i­dat­ing for those peo­ple who are ‘lurk­ers’. A mas­sive con­ver­sa­tion with 50 peo­ple and all this back and forth might be intim­i­dat­ing to hop into, ver­sus some­thing that just has one or two or four peo­ple, where one or two are your friends.”

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