Described by its founder, Gerhard van der Westhuizen, as a “social publishing network”, Pretoria-based Internet start-up Snaglur has managed more than 50 000 sign-ups and generates about 15 000 unique visits a day just two months since launch.
Similar to US social platforms Tumblr and Posterous, and to a lesser extent Pinterest, Snaglur, which was launched on 6 January, allows users to share links, images or videos and publish original content through a blog-like dashboard.
Part pet passion and part procrastination effort, Van der Westhuizen, 24, says the idea for the site came when he was writing his final exams for a BSc in computer science. Once the exams were out of the way, he began coding and designing the site and says the whole thing took about a month to complete.
Coded from the ground up, Snaglur was built entirely by Van der Westhuizen, with the exception of the site’s mascot. The small blue monster is the creation of the Matthew Inman, the man behind popular comic website The Oatmeal. It was originally designed for Tumblr, but the US site elected not to use it and Inman offered it on his site. Van der Westhuizen asked if he could use it and much to his surprise was told he could.
About 80% of the content on Snaglur is shared or linked-to content, with the remaining 20% comprising original content. Van der Westhuizen wants to shift this balance.
“Originally, Snaglur was conceived as a cool platform where you could mix original content with shared content and where people could post their own content with an immediate audience, unlike a personal blog where you have to drive traffic.”
Van der Westhuizen hasn’t engaged actively in any deliberate marketing of the service, and says he got content ticking over by using it himself at launch. He says the service is wholly self-funded and “properly bootstrapped”. Though he’s looking to monetise it in coming months, for now it is free of advertisements.
“The most practical revenue model would be ads on the site, but it has to be done in a way that doesn’t interfere with the whole experience,” he says. “Any advertising has to integrate well. There’s such a broad spectrum of topics that there are lots of possibilities for category- or even post-specific ads.”
With a growing user base, Van der Westhuizen says the service is still expanding and changing as people use it in different ways. “I want to make it as user friendly as possible, but it’s still very experimental. It’s quite possible it’ll look totally different in a few months’ time”.
For now, the bulk of Snaglur’s traffic comes from the US and Canada, followed by Australia, the UK, Germany and — in sixth spot — SA. “I’m also looking to make it available in other languages eventually,” says Van der Westhuizen. “But that has to be done carefully so that although people can post in other languages it doesn’t interfere with the existing site or confuse users.”
In order to prevent adult content getting onto the site, Van der Westhuizen screens everything that is posted and has a number of “automatic notification tools for certain keywords” in place.
Mobile versions are coming and Van der Westhuizen says he is working hard to ensure that Snaglur isn’t just another passing social fad. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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