I like to tell people with whom I’m talking about Userplane that we are a white-label social discovery platform. And I assume that if I get a puzzled look, I’ll be explaining what I mean, exactly, by ‘social discovery.’ But it seems like puzzled looks of late have been wondering what, precisely, ‘white-label’ means. So I guess I’ll save social discovery for another post, and I’ll tackle white-label first.
To the point: we think of white-label as YOUR label. When you choose Userplane, you choose to own your brand over someone else’s. Take Meebo, for example; add Meebo for free to allow your users to connect with Facebook friends while on your site, and in return you reward them with free advertising (their logo is all over their bar). Sure, they’ll give you a cut of the ad revenue as a consolation prize, but in doing so you hand over your identity–your BRAND–to someone else for a significant feature on your site.
Then there’s our competition for hosted chat. 123FlashChat, AVChat and Flashcoms (to name a few) offer skinning of their integrations. Most, if not all, of our competitors use a Flash interface which severely limits the ability to customize the UI/UX. You can change colors, fonts and labels, which I guess is sort of nice. AVChat goes so far as to say you can use CSS…only to say two sentences later that it’s not TRULY CSS.
See, at our core, we believe that online communities were built to connect users with a common interest. It doesn’t matter whether that interest is to learn a new language, play games or fantasy sports, consume news and information or meet new people for friendship or love. The fact is, people join online communities because they believe in the purpose for which the community exists.
Offloading users to their Facebook social graph while on your site doesn’t accomplish anything to further deepen the pull users feel toward the community. And adding Flash-based features is like buying a car because the salesperson told you that you can customize anything by changing the paint color.
Your brand, and how your users interact with it, is a core pillar of a successful online business. And we believe in making available all the tools at your disposal to create an experience that your users truly identify with when they choose to engage in your community. This approach admittedly makes us different. But I think it also makes us the best.