NPR is fairly good at staying on top of emerging tech and web trends. Yesterday's story that caught my attention was regarding users concern with Facebook privacy...and what may happen to the social world in the future as a result. As stated in the program, and I think we can all agree, Facebook is not the end-all to social networks. Bigger and better are bound to come at some point. While there are many startups out there that hope they can be the next big thing in social, the one discussed on NPR caught my attention.
Pip.io. They don't call themselves a social network, but more of a social operating system. They are fine with the the general public continuing to use Facebook, Twitter, Buzz and whatever else is out there, in fact they pull those networks right into your pip.io account. They are just hoping to fill the gaps that other networks have left out, mainly privacy.
They want your privacy settings to be very easily understood, which I think they have done successfully. From the settings tab you see your selected choices for and using a very simple slider you can go from private to public with a click of a button. Even better, you can allow single posts to be private or public. When posting your update you can determine whether you want to post to everyone, or choose the pip.io followers that you would allow to see the post. If you are a member of a 'channel' you can even post an update that posts only to that channel.
Can you do that on Facebook?
Kind of...You definitely have the ability to only message a certain group of people or post a comment to a specific interest group, even adjust your overall privacy settings. Just not as easy! The UI of pip.io is easy enough to understand that just about anyone can find and use their settings, even as they are posting single posts. Sometimes with other social networks these things are not thought of until it is too late.
Should I Care as a Small Business?
At this point it is hard to determine what affect pip.io will have on business, but remember the channels that I mentioned earlier in the post? Somewhat similar to a Facebook page. If you have a business that communicates regularly through your Facebook page, you can do the same thing on Pip.io. You have the ability to create a channel or a channel group and adjust the privacy settings for that specific channel opening it up to everyone, or just a small group of people...again, very easily. In the early stages of this network I would not expect these channels to get tons of popularity, but it is not too soon to claim your brand username before somebody else does!
Do I Like It?
So far, yes. In fact I could see myself using it more than the standard applications like Tweetdeck or Seesmic and definitely more than Rockmelt. It is very easy to read and post to the other social networks, and I do expect the general popularity of the site to expand fairly quickly. If you haven't already, go ahead and sign up and give it a shot, especially if you are concerned with Facebook privacy. I want to stress again the importance of grabbing your brand username before someone else does.