When I learned that an old friend, Duncan Mitchell, was co-founder and CEO of the wildly popular e-card destination Someecards.com, I contacted him immediately. Duncan graciously agreed to answer some questions about how the subversive e-card company has used social media to build its audience.
ROB: For those that don’t know, tell us a little about Someecards. How did you start the business?
DUNCAN: My partner, Brook Lundy, and I worked together as a team in interactive advertising. We always talked about doing something on our own, but we didn’t really have a solid idea of what that would be. One day Brook came to me and said, “I have a horrible idea, let’s make an e-card site.” It sounded good to me, so we built the site for fun, launched it, and waited to see what would happen. It took off pretty well, so we quit our advertising jobs and started working on Someecards full time.
Plenty of businesses talk about using “user generated” content in product development. Someecards really seems to embrace this, suggesting that customers create their own cards and making them available to all. Tell us a little about the strategy behind Yourecards and how that has developed over time.
Our site is about communication and social gestures, so it’s important to allow people to participate in content creation. The user-generated content has two paths: One where you create a card for a friend and it just stays private between the two of you. The other allows users to submit cards to the public area of the site, where people can view, rate, and send them. We keep the editorial work and the user-gen work separate, but we do select standout content as “editors’ picks” to give those cards recognition.
So do you see user-generated products as a key component to the continued growth of Someecards?
I think it will be really interesting to see how we can plug the user-gen system into our store: Someecards.com/store. We just launched this, but we’re using print-on-demand technology to produce the products, so you can imagine porting the user-gen engine into the store and allowing people to create their own products and submit them for sale (like CafePress or Zazzle), and participating in the creation of real world products.
We’ve seen quite a few people using the Someecards Facebook application over the past few months. Tell us about what type of usage you’ve seen and ultimately how that plays into growing your business
We’re trying to be channel agnostic — getting our content into any and every channel that people are communicating in. I think we can still improve on this, but we’d like people to be able to view and send our cards in every social network, IM client, email program, mobile platform, etc. Facebook in particular is a great way to get our content out there, communicate with fans, deliver ad impressions, and announce new features and content. We have over 400K installs, so we can message those users any time we have news, which can be great to keep momentum up during content or feature launches.
Seems that there’s a premium on number of Twitter followers out there. And now that Someecards has over a million followers, what impact has that had? Has it been worth the effort to grow?
Twitter has been great for us in a lot of ways. Part of our strategy has always been to be extremely timely, getting content out there based on news and current events. With Twitter we can get a comment or joke out more quickly than we can even produce a card to put on the site, which is great. It also helps us announce content we’ve produced in partnership with a brand, which is something we can offer our clients that other sites may not be able to. If we do something with Puma or Jose Cuervo, it’s going to be hard for them to find another Web site that can announce the partnership to over 1 million Twitter followers. We’re careful not to advertise in the Twitter channel, but when we work with brands we make things that we think people will like, so we can let people know that there are cards on the site that a brand has sponsored. So far the reaction has been very positive.
And the Twitter War with Martha Stewart?
If Martha is reading this I’d just like to say that our offer to appear on her show to officially concede still stands.