In our completely tiny world of the Web 2.0 echochamber, Plancast is blowing up after some good Techcrunch coverage. (BTW… is it me or does MG Siegler class that place up like tenfold?)
So what is it?
Plancast is a place where you can share what you plan on doing in the future. Tonight, I’m planning on going to the NY Tech Meetup, and so using Plancast, I was able to let anyone who cares know about it—and tweet it out as well.
Plancast has a non-bidirectional follow, just like Twitter—which means you can find out about my events but I don’t need to hear where you’re going to be. That’s very powerful because it opens up the number of possible connections in the system.
What’s really interesting to me is that I’ve been talking about the scheduling and event issue with a number of people who are working on it. Why everyone is suddenly working on scheduling, I have no idea, but there are a number of different takes on it. There’s BuddyBlip and tym.ly as well, and I’m sure a number of other people are working on it.
At first, when I saw Plancast, I thought of Dopplr. Tons of people signed up for it, and people kept posting to it to varying degrees, but it never quite crossed the chasm. It’s a perfect example of a startup that showed solid initial traction, but sputtered when it tried to get past the tech community. One reason is that it kept all your future plans locked away. There was no broadcasting to other networks, and so there was very little virality and discovery by outsiders. Even so, Dopplr didn’t really change my behavior much. I sort of felt like, “Great, so you’re going to be in Denver…” If I wasn’t going to be in Denver at that time, it wasn’t useful to me. In fact, because it was all about big trips, most of the info, by definition, was never going to be that useful for me.
Plancast solves that problem by making it about the small stuff—the stuff I could actually tag along for and participate in. That makes it infinitely more useful to me—but let’s keep in mind that I’m not every user. To cross the chasm, you have to get past the people with almost 5,000 Twitter followers (should I get a cake?), and those folks, like my mom, don’t attend nearly as many events, nor do they want to broadcast it to the world.
Being the Tipping Point
Solving this, however, is where Plancast could be potentially awesome, if this is the way they want to go… and here’s how. If I’m Plancast, I’d strike deals with Facebook, Meetup, Eventbrite, Evite, Pingg, Upcoming, etc… and I’d focus on becoming the event “Tipping Point.” A browser plugin or link would effectively work the same way. Basically, you’d want a button or checkbox that recognizes that there’s an event on the page, and broadcasts a message to my friends that I’m interested in going.
By allowing me to curate which events I blast to my social network, you’re creating a stronger signal than just hitting maybe, ignoring it, or sometimes even hitting yes. You’re telling the world that you’re going and that you’d like people to come with you. There’s a huge problem, particularly in Facebook and Meetup events where no one ever wants to be the first one in the pool. For whatever reason, in Facebook they hit yes but never show up, and in Meetup they just tend to ignore the invite. A lot of these people would actually go if they knew their friends were going, so Plancast could seriously up the response rates and actual followthrough on attendance for events. By encouraging others to go, and informing me when other friends sign up, it pushes the event over the tipping point, which is potentially very powerful.
This would work well not just for the Web 2.0 crowd, but for the soccer moms in closed little groups of close friends publishing their intention to to go the next Wiggles concert to each other.
Not only that, it begins to aggregate the information on what I go to across event platforms, learning a lot about my interests and being in a position to offer new events to me—so there’s your business model, kiddies.
Of course, maybe this isn’t where Plancast wants to go—and maybe they’ll just wind up being another Dopplr—a sad reminder of what could have been. I have a feeling that won’t happen though. They seem to have a lot more user centric DNA to them, and I love their publish everywhere, open strategy.
One thing they definitely need to do, though, is make it so I don’t have to manually input all my future events—like I said either with a browser plugin, or by allowing me to sign in and sync with all of my various event accounts. Heck, they could even publish this stuff to my Gcal automatically—but that might be a bit of feature creep. They’d have to let me have the choice as to which events I want to publish to the outside world, though.
I’m looking forward to see where this one goes… it’s really interesting.