Shapr: A New Way to Network
I considered calling this article, Shapr, The Shape of Things to Come, but I'd be plagiarizing the H.G. Wells book, so, alas, I had to settle for A New Way to Network.
I recently heard about this new app called Shapr through a Facebook ad, if I'm not mistaken. I looked into it and liked it so much that I decided to blog about it.
This is their logo. Shapr is an app designed to help you network professionally. LinkedIn is what most of us use for our business or professional profiles, and LinkedIn is fine for making connections with people you know. LinkedIn, however, is not so good at connecting you with people that you don't know.
That's where shapr comes in. Shapr makes it very easy and fun to find business connections with people you don't know.
How Does It Work?
It's very simple. You create a profile with what you do for a living, add a list of key words, what kinds of connections you would like to make, and add a few links to your profiles on social media and/or your website, etc. And a photo. You aren't required to add a photo, but you should include it. Then shapr uses its own special algorithm to find relevant matches for you, and once a day, the app presents to you about 10 matches. Their algorithm uses the key words that are included in your profile, your geographic location, and who knows what else.
You can look at your matches and either swipe right or left or click on a button saying, basically, yes, I'm interested in connecting with this person, or no, I'm not. If the other person is also interested in connecting with you, then you get a notification that you have a "match." This is what my profile looks like.
The beauty of the app is that it's easy to meet people that you can later connect with through other social media channels if you want to.
I'm a freelance writer. I live in a small town and in a rural area to boot. I'm also an introvert. It's extremely difficult for me to meet people. This app makes it easy. And fun.
So, for example, so far, Shapr has connected me with a couple of writers in Vancouver (BC), a cinematographer in Nanaimo (BC), a guy with an internet marketing agency in Kelowna (BC), and an insurance executive in Bellingham (WA). This is fantastic. I would never have met these people otherwise.
What Does It Cost?
It's free. Or at least free so far. According to Mandy Menaker, Shapr's Head of PR and Brand Development who spoke with me on the phone, they will be launching a premium (paid) version in November. How much that will cost and exactly what that will include is not known (or at least available to the public) at this time.
What I do know is that the paid version will include more matches than in the free version, and there will be a way to change your geographic location for your matches. So that, for example, if I'm visiting my mom in Florida, I can reset my location and get relevant Florida matches.
Would You Pay for the Premium Version?
Maybe. It depends on how much it costs and how the payment is structured. Sometimes you wonder how some of these apps or websites figure out their pricing. If they charge something usurious like $30/month, definitely not, unless I could buy just one month at a time for when I'm traveling (infrequently) like I do with my cell phone for arranging roaming in the states. If it's under $15/month, then I probably would pay for it because the ability to make more connections is very valuable as a freelancer.
Ways Shapr Can Improve
It would be useful if they gave you some suggestions for how to write your severely character-limited bio with some examples of different bios. I regularly look at my matches' bios to see if I can improve or tweak my own.
When you first go to their website, you see a photo which is the beige back of some guy (I hope.) The photo is actually a still from a video which starts to play. This looks terrible. I don't care if the guy in the video is the founder giving a speech to Trustees from Stanford, it still looks like crap. A royalty-free image of a beach from pexels would be more appealing. Anything would be more appealing.
It took me 24 hours to talk to a live person from Shapr after I contacted them--first through the app and next through Twitter. That's not bad, and I did speak to the head of PR. But, there's room for improvement there. If I contact Virgin Mobile Canada on Twitter, I get an instant response. I write about marketing frequently, and companies should make listening to and talking to their customers a very high priority.
Unfortunately, some companies don't even have customers on their radar, and as they get bigger and bigger, you might as well not even bother. For example, trying to talk to a live person behind Quora is like writing to Santa Claus. It took me a week to talk to a live person behind Crowdfire. Similarly, I know someone who is trying to spend a million dollars on Facebook business advertising and can't talk to a live person. Yes, you read that right. Let me say it again. A customer wants to spend a million dollars, and can't talk to anyone in that department at Facebook because why? Because Facebook doesn't give a crap. They are so big and so rich, what's another million? Can you imagine?
So it remains to be seen how Shapr will handle that as they grow. Mandy tells me they currently have about 600K users worldwide.
Also, Shapr is currently only a phone app. You can't use it on your tablet or computer. Does that sound familiar? It's like Instagram. I don't know if they plan to make a tablet app, but they should. In the evening I sit back on my couch with my iPad. If Shapr isn't on my iPad, then oh well. All things being equal, I'd rather use my iPad because it's bigger and easier to see, although I have excellent fine motor skills. Not everybody does, however, and if the app is not available for tablets, then that's an untouched slice of pie for Shapr--all those lacking great fine motor skills or with vision problems who don't use phone apps because they're just too small and annoying to use.
Get and install Shapr. You'll love it. Want to see how much I like it? I moved it to the first page of my phone apps. This is what's called Evangelism Marketing: When customers like a product so much that they promote it on their own.