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Summary:

As I was leaving a bar late one night while at South by Southwest last week, someone handed me a Blellow sticker. “Pretty cool, funny name,” I thought. It turns out that Blellow is more than just a name. In fact, it’s an ambitious microblogging platform […]

blellowAs I was leaving a bar late one night while at South by Southwest last week, someone handed me a Blellow sticker. “Pretty cool, funny name,” I thought.

It turns out that Blellow is more than just a name. In fact, it’s an ambitious microblogging platform geared toward the web working and networking set. Note that I used “networking” without the commonly tacked-on “social” in front of it. Blellow is looking to become the LinkedIn of microblogging platforms, as opposed to the more chit-chatty, freewheeling space (crammed into 140-character or less bursts) that Twitter currently occupies.

The idea is that while Twitter and Facebook are now relatively “mainstream” places to keep up with current friends and ruminate about thoughts both big and small, Blellow offers a platform for microblogging professionals and web workers to coordinate meetups, find jobs, seek out projects and engage in professional conversations through the “groups” areas of the site.

One of the first things you’ll notice after you register and login to Blellow is that it feels different than most microblogging sites. There’s a torrent of statistics and communications management tools on the left column, including detailed stats that run down the number of friends, followers, “@” replies and “kudos” you’ve received (which may seem familiar to those of you who spend time using MySpace blogs) as well as data on public and private groups. With regard to kudos, Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable points out that, “Kudos are like credibility, so each time you receive kudos for a job well done, you’ll rank higher in Blellow search results, which could expose you to new clients and more work opportunities.”

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Like Yammer, Blellow asks the simple question: “What are you working on?” In response to that question, Blellow allows you to enter up to 300 characters, which may be a more comfortable space to get a fully-formed thought in, as opposed to the 140-character limit that Twitter famously imposes.

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Blellow handles public groups in kind of a nifty way. While Twitter uses the hashtag (#) convention to allow Twitter search and other third-party services to track topics, Blellow uses the percent sign (%) for tracking group conversations. For example, Apple Love (“A group for the discussion of Mac OS X, Apple Desktop & Laptops, and of course, the iPhone”), is set up with “%apple” in the post entry field when you visit the group’s page. That means posts entered from the Apple Love group, as well as anywhere else on Blellow in which “%apple” is used, will be aggregated into the group’s stream. This is a smart way, in my view, to allow for the organic creation of mini-communities within the larger Blellow platform. The challenge with any new social site, of course, that offers many features is to get people to use them and to avoid the dreaded “ghost town effect” in which things look a bit tumble weed-y.

Private groups is an area that Blellow is looking to monetize, charging $5 per month for a private group with up to 1GB of storage, or $10 per month for 10 GBs. If Blellow can make headway in signing up groups in any numbers, look for other microblogging sites to follow this model. That said, because strong private group experiences already exist for free in other products like FriendFeed Rooms, it’s likely it will be hard to get many to cough up cash for a private group, at least initially.

The way in which the Jobs section is set up reveals much about who Blellow is targeting, namely web workers and creative professionals. With a default setting of All, there are currently filters for Design, Development, Writing and Other.bl-jobs

The Projects section, an entirely separate area found on Blellow’s top navigation menu, again focuses on web workers looking to make some extra money or to engage in a resume-building project of some sort. Examples of projects – which may be toggled between Paid and Pro Bono – include designing a business web site, building a Facebook app and writing a web site review.

Would you consider using Blellow for business networking or for finding work?

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  1. I like it. Twitter with a little more functionality and a lot less “people bloat.”

  2. Experiment” [5.19]
    Malcolm: I gave him some food coloring and told him they were chemicals.
    Reese: Guys! I just made a discovery! When you mix blue and yellow, you get an entirely new color! [Holds up a test tube full of green liquid] I’m gonna name it… blellow!

  3. Jennifer Van Grove Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    I really like Blellow and think it serves a niche audience, which is probably pretty similar to WWD’s readers.

    The challenge for them will be to make the site dissimilar enough from Twitter that it warrants creating and maintaining another account. Right now they’re certainly trying to do that with the job board, groups, and projects. But given that Twitter has been a professional win for me in my ways (even work related questions always get more than a few replies), I’m not sure I need Blellow. It will be interesting to see how many other people feel the same way.

  4. @Jennifer Agreed, Twitter is good enough for all things that I want to do with it professionally, and Twitter’s where all the people I want to connect with are.

  5. Hi all! Eric, we appreciate your review of Blellow very much and Jennifer, thanks so much for your writeup as well!

    We’ve been extremely happy with the positive reaction to Blellow and many freelancers are making great connections and helping each other out already. It’s exciting to see as we’re still in beta.

    Twitter is definitely a professional win for all of us at Blellow too & we use it all the time, but personally, I use Twitter very differently than I use Blellow.

    For example, if I had a PHP question, I would ask it in Blellow instead of Twitter. The reason? First off, I don’t think I have that many followers who are PHP pros on Twitter. Because of that, a PHP question would not be of interest to most of my audience. Secondly, even if I did have some PHP experts among my followers, they would have to see my question in their twitter stream at the right time in order to answer it.

    Conversely, on Blellow, I can be a brand new member without a single person following me, yet can immediately pose my PHP question to a group of PHP experts (or enthusiasts). The group aspect allows me to pose the right questions to the right people about a topic they are definitely interested in. More signal to noise and more likely to get a good answer.

    Again, thanks so much for trying Blellow out! We really appreciate it!

    Regards,
    Jane Harrell
    Blellow Team

  6. Thanks very much, Jane. You bring up a great point about the ability to pose a question to a group of experts with the hope/belief of getting a quick and informed response. That angle on microblogging is very interesting, will certainly be keeping an eye on Blellow as its community develops.

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