Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tsu and the Art of Social Media

Have you heard of Tsu? It's a new social media platform with the revolutionary idea that users should be paid fairly for the content they produce. Tsu also makes use of a very smart referral system to incentivize users to sign up. You can join Tsu via my profile page if you'd like to check it out while you read (and hook me up with a referral bonus).

What it is

Tsu is a social network combining features from sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's like Victor Frankenstein hacked off the best pieces of existing social media and amalgamated them into one being sewn up with a very pretty user interface. All of your favorite features are here. I can "like" posts that show up in my feed. I can choose to follow or friend other users, which allows varying levels of privacy with post visibility. Topics can #trend, and every post has an option to share to my other social media sites (which I can connect to my profile) with a simple click. The site is very mature for how young it is.

My profile page with all the functionality of standard social sites.

That said, there is still a lot of room for growth. Standard features, like being able to block users, are still being developed. The site loads a little slowly on servers powered by startup dollars. Groups and events don't exist (yet). Concepts like pages for businesses or celebrities aren't differentiated from regular users. Some of the embed functionality isn't as pretty as it is on legacy social media sites with a few years of coding under their belts (granted most of it is still pretty passable). There's room for improvement, but I'm still extremely impressed with what I'm seeing in the early stages. That said, Tsu also utilizes some revolutionary features which are the main reason you should pay attention (and also why I'm writing this post).

Tsu pays users 90% of the money they make. I haven't made anything yet.

Tsu pays out up to 90% of the money they make back to the user. They take 10% to keep the site and servers up and running, but then give back the rest to both the person creating/sharing/interacting with the content, as well as the group of users who referred them into the network. This is huge.

Pretty clear breakdown of how this works. Courtesy of the Tsu FAQ page.

Facebook expects you to do all this for free. You get to plug in to their excellent product while they milk advertising and insight dollars from the data you provide them. Tsu offers all the same functionality of Facebook, but pays you to use it.

I want Stephen Colbert to click my Tsu link and share things to his 7 million followers.

Notice how Tsu also pays based on how you refer people into the site. If you're three connections away from a Stephen Colbert, then you are making 3% of the revenue he generates for the site. The only way you can join the site is to enter from someone else's profile page, so this referral tree is automatically generated, tracked, and accounted for in the revenue sharing. This is very, very smart.

Why it's smart

The referral system Tsu is using is based on a very smart technique that MIT students developed and used to win a national DARPA contest back in 2009. The technical name is called the recursive incentive mechanism, and was first used to locate 10 red weather balloons placed in random locations around the united states in ~9 hours using only social media. The basic idea, is that you pay the people, that recruit the people that make you money, in a chain that goes back a few links. This incentivizes people to share your new social media site (or red balloon mission) to the most people possible so they optimize the amount of $$$ they bring in. The system is also set up in a way where people won't mind being shared too, since it doesn't hurt them.

Social networks can quickly grow out of control with a single share.

The only real way to game the system is to refer yourself via two fake accounts before you share to everyone you know (that way you can multiply your income out), but that would take a lot of effort since you need to deposit money into real bank accounts which would be tricky to fake and easy to detect dupes. This is a very well-designed system utilized by the Tsu social network.

Why Tsu will work

Tsu is taking an "All Killer, No Filler" approach with creating their social network. They're taking all the good parts from facebook and similar sites, and then combining them into one super network. I don't have an algorithm deciding what I can (and can't) see. I don't have content that I didn't choose to follow forced upon me. Oh, and Tsu will pay me for what I contribute as well as give me a bonus for the efforts of people I recruit. Paying people for their content and influence is a radical change, and like Tsu says, "The right thing to do". This is dramatically different from the status quo, and will catch on and grow by design.

Check it out for yourself and be an early adopter here:
(and give me a follow if you want to be internet pals)

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