The newest social media channel steps up to the plate. Does it have what it takes to play in the big leagues? Let’s find out.
Yarnme. No, not Yanni, Yarn me, as in Talk to me. No, drop the phone, I don’t mean that either. You see, it’s a website that… It’s actually like… Look, just read the review.
So, let me start by explaining what Yarnme is. Because I’m not so sure the company itself knows what Yarnme is yet, which is okay since it’s a startup (the site launched on January 1, 2014). The company twitter page says, Yarnme is a free online topic sharing service that lets people upload, view, and share topics in any category of their choice. OK. So, it’s like Nairaland, kinda. Erm, no, says their Facebook page. Yarnme is an online community for Nigerians, News and Information portal. Okay… So, it’s like a hybrid Facebook-forum-Punch news site?
Yeah, if you’re confused, we’re now on the same page.
So, what is Yarnme?
Well, I had to visit the site and register to find out. Ladies and gentlemen, Yarnme is a forum. Short and simple. And you can also get news which seems to be curated by a mod called Yarnme News.
If you’ve ever posted anything on Nairaland or Facebook, (be honest, who hasn’t?), then you know how this works. You write something, you post images and wait for yarners (that’s not official but you heard it from me first) to make comments. If you see a topic that hails your attention, you go in and make comments of your own. And so on.
Comparisons with Facebook and Nairaland are low hanging fruit, I know, but nearly impossible to ignore so I’m not even going to try. Anyone’s who’s going to use Yarnme will most likely be migrating from those two channels anyways.
The site is yet to gather positive inertia. As at the time of writing, it had 1,605 followers on Facebook and 32 followers on Twitter. Let’s be honest, with the kind of stranglehold Facebook, Twitter and even Nairaland have on the social media ecosystem, it would take either of two things to get users to migrate – a mass migration of users to Yarnme (a la tipping point theory) or they start paying people to sign up.
Regardless of how the Yarnme team decides to promote their website, the real meat of any social network is the community and the user interface/experience(UI/UX). So let’s see what those are like.
Getting on the network was as simple as registering with an email. The welcome I got on Yarnme was underwhelming, which is understandable. I was about a year or so late to the Facebook party, so when i finally signed up, I was greeted by a long list of suggested friends. Facebook also got my contact list from my email account and got me even more accurate friend suggestions.
Yarnme, well, at the moment I have no friends on Yarnme. The majority of suggested people to follow appeared to be males only. Or maybe it was just my settings.
The site is mainly green and has a pseudo-minimalist design. Pseudo because I’m guessing the abundance of white space on each page is due to my empty friend list. But it’s a very simple and effective design nevertheless. Think Nairaland but a little tidier.
USP and the Future
The buzz surrounding Facebook and even nairaland has been stale of late, especially with their recent AD-centric focus. Users have been looking to move. It’s why Twitter’s popularity stock has nearly tripled in the last few years. But it is hard to see what solution Yarnme presents.
Speaking to TechCabal, the founder of the site, Ugochukwu Nneji said, “Since we switched from Simple Machines Forum (SMF) to our own script in June this year, we’ve faced a lot of challenges raising funds for adverts and promotions. We lost a few active members during the switch, because we were offline for a while.
Ugochukwu believes anyone who has used Nairaland for a while will appreciate the changes they are making.
“We’ve made Yarnme a lot more social, created a better user interface, introduced a few more features we feel every ideal community should have and we are still working on more exciting upgrades like our mobile app, instant messaging, audio and video uploads and more.
“Registered, users can follow others, bookmark, like and recommend topics, add hashtags (#), mention other users in their status updates and topics, keep in touch through private messaging (Yarnme Connect), meet new people through shared interests and discover trending #Hashtags. Users also receive ‘twitter like’ notifications when they are mentioned, followed or their topics are liked. Users can also see people who like their topics.”
“Unlike other forums, users can choose what kind of content they want to see on the forum, by customizing their timeline and following desired people and brands. Yarnme also verifies accounts owned by popular brands and well known users to establish their authenticity.”
It’s been more than one year and the site is yet to gather enough momentum to break through into Nigeria’s’ internet diet. Maybe their current marketing campaign will spark the desired fires and start a trend.
“Our focus now is on publicity and building the Yarnme brand.”
I wish them all the best.