Home MyLifeBrand: Social Network Aggregator Playing Catch Up

MyLifeBrand: Social Network Aggregator Playing Catch Up

MyLifeBrand is a new social networking convergence
service, currently in invitation-only alpha testing. This product aggregates Web 2.0
functionality, tools, creativity and a portal for converging business with user generated
content. The premise is to offer diverse services where individuals, groups and
businesses can take advantage of proximity and community. MyLifeBrand combines social
networking, common tools with social media and allows for the integration of networks
like Facebook, Bebo, Linkedin, MySpace and others. This startup dares users to
““Take the Challenge”” and perhaps improve life, but can it catch Facebook
and others?

There is not a lot of information about MyLifeBrand’s development team. Several blogs
have done periphery stories about some of their promotions, but details are hard to come
by. MyLifeBrand is apparently a Seattle-based company and their Founder and CEO Jeff
Jani’s name was mentioned in a press release via Business Wire on the
29th. The company has had several promotions, including one featuring a Kelly Clarkson
community, a gamer community creation contest and a virtual town hall featuring
Presidential hopeful Sen. Chris Dodd.

The Basics

MyLifeBrand offers users the basic tools for communication, content management,
sharing and media storage. Creating a profile, writing a blog, using internal mail,
importing friends from other sites and posting to the community wall are all simple
functions. Users can also go mobile via a WAP interface and external IM is possible
through a Meebo.com embed. I found no real issues with any of these standard tools, but
navigating between some elements was circuitous. The profile editor of MLB is much better
than that of MySpace, and has fields and functions for a wide range of input. A horde of
other Web 2.0 functions from Google Maps to the upcoming MyLifeTV almost prove to be too
much. The media gallery illustrated below is very good, but could use
drag-and-drop capability and organizational utility.

Video Gallery illustrating my 3 video uploads

The Heart of Community

The directory list for MLB is already impressive, and for an alpha test the developers
and the community have assembled some excellent content. The real value of this site is
not just in its ability to import other networks, but in the special relationship between
personal and business communities. The relative segregation of communities and ironic
proximity to business entities is potentially a big plus for MLB. If the community can
accept this proximity to for-profit sites, then a rather unique balance might be struck
for advertising. A user can essentially create any kind of community – based wholly,
partially or cumulatively on their other sites via a field-fill UI. Once again we are
visiting a startup wholly dependent on users to generate success with the quality, number
and popularity of their communities.

A business community for one of England’s Premier Soccer teams

Other Features

Most Web 2.0 sites I have tested have become geometrically more innovative, intuitive
and usable. MLB has a big compliment of widgets from Wikiseek for information, to YouTube
for media. But compared to other sites like Zude
Second Brain
, this site almost seems outdated. Users can vote on various elements,
customize their communities, use a chat interface and perform a range of other tasks.
However, will just having even dozens of these types of capabilities be enough? Adding
video and other media, talking with friends and syndicating creative aspects is becoming
the status quo in this venue. MLB is also offering rewards in the form of points that
users can redeem for money or services, but unless the rewards are significant I cannot
really advocate this as a marquee feature.

Profile page with functions


MyLifeBrand is a very new startup with some excellent possibilities. The social
networking aspects and/or individual tools do differentiate the site in some aspects from
MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and others.

The biggest drawback I see is that cross domain drag-and-drop and other emerging
technologies may render MLB’s tools obsolete. Illustrating imported communities “in
frame” is also not a very popular aspect for many users and I much prefer the object
oriented aggregation sites for this type of utility.

The simple insertion of social convergence and offering vague challenges to users is
simply not enough in the long run. Alpha sites are always wrought with glitches and small
interface problems – and MLB proved to be no worse than others in this regard. I think
the big problem for MyLifeBrand will be in catching up technologically, in order to
maximize their great potential for becoming a viable convergence site or aggregator. As I
see it, what the developers do next and how fast they do it may be crucial to the success
of MyLifeBrand.

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