Social Startups: Blopboard Visualizes Results in Real Time

Social Startups: Blopboard Visualizes Results in Real Time

Infographics have been around for a long time.  They’ve evolved over the years.  Distribution channels have emerged.  Easy-to-use, free tools have made creating them easy for most people, and technology has changed the face of infographics forever.

Even the power of the infographic when it reaches the consumer in new and different ways has changed drastically.  What does all this mean for marketers who use infographics, or even for those who don’t?  The old phrase says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Then it turned into, “A video is worth 1.8 million words,” according to Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey.  Perhaps the video is no longer a video, but a real-time visualization.  The rising popularity of infographics proves this case.

“With so much data out there, visualization becomes more and more important as a way of making sense of it all, especially opinions,” says Amy Kaufman, co-founder of Blopboard, a social polling platform that visualizes how opinions and sentiment change over time by users spread across all demographics and many countries.  “We hope aggregating and visualizing opinions in real time can refine the way people, businesses, and brands make decisions.”

The privately funded startup that Kaufman founded in December 2010 with James Stafford, allows users to post questions and share their opinions with others.  Results are visualized in real-time, using Blopboard infographics.

“Typically, people get their information from friends or people within their social networks,” Kaufman says.  “It is too daunting to make sense of all the opinions out there.  Blopboard allows people to step outside their social bubbles and see how their opinions compare to the crowd.”

Businesses and brands can use the platform to solicit feedback from their fans, followers, and clients, rather than simply collect “likes” or “followers.”  This deeper level of engagement can help build a loyal fan or customer base.

Brand benefits also include real-time opinion tracking, deeper consumer insight, dedicated brand profiles for ongoing brand/product feedback, and the ability to interact with consumers officially as the brand or anonymously. 

Stafford, whose background is in finance, was originally looking into gaging and visualizing financial market sentiment.  “Our interest quickly morphed into visualizing opinions and sentiment about anything that people were talking about and seeing how these things changed over time,” says Kaufman, who met Stafford in high school before she became a film producer, and he went on to trade futures and equities.  “We liked the idea of knowing what the crowd thought, rather than looking solely at what experts thought.  And we wanted to see how we could get this information in a quick snapshot at any given moment.

Though the technology was new to the co-founders, Stafford’s highly technical approach to financial markets and Kaufman’s experience in production translated well in many ways to developing Blopboard.

“Trying to make sense of people’s opinions appears to be a trend,” Kaufman says.  “However, Blopboard has worked to develop our platform to give users the best experience and the most control.  We went to design firm Pentagram, who we admired greatly, and we did our R&D with them.  Together we came up with something that is fun and allows users to easily navigate the site and app, and recall and share information.”

After designing and building the Blopboard website in 2012, Blopboard partnered with Squeaky Bone Studios in April 2013 to design and build the free mobile app.  Kaufman says they plan to monetize Blopboard in the future, but “the primary focus at this point is to continue to create a great user experience.”

Next up for Blopboard are a number of new features, including private questions and timed voting, as well as profiles for businesses and brands.  A mobile version of the browser is in development now.  “We will also continue to build out additional dynamic visualizations,” Kaufman says, as they hope to become the market leader in the social polling space.

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