About.me: A Social Media Profile Site Destined for More Than 15 Minutes of Fame

Site Unveils New Campaign Featuring User Contest Winners on Times Square Billboard

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On the About.me site, a tagline clearly states, "It's all about you." This increasingly popular social media site, which was started by well known tech entrepreneurs Tony Conrad, Tim Young and Ryan Freitas in 2010, lets the user create a personal online profile page or calling card and provides a user dashboard to view daily, weekly, monthly or annual stats.

Being a social media lover, I have an About.me page at about.me/portergale. Without aggressively promoting my profile, I've had 312 views and 211 links to my page. Looking at the analytics dashboard, I did have a spike in views when I entered the About.me "win your face on a digital billboard in Times Square contest." I didn't come close to winning, there were over 50,000 entrants, but the top three entrants will be in Times Square to see the unveiling of their larger than life profile pages with the glittery backdrop of the Theatre District.

The About.me winners had to gather votes via shameless self-promotion of their pages and the finalists include an independent rock band named Enation, a fitness coach named Nicole and photographer/artist named Ricardo Murillo. Each will have more than five minutes of billboard fame this month.

Artist Ricardo Murillo on About.me
Artist Ricardo Murillo on About.me

The contest mirrors and taps into what I'm guessing is the primary driver of the success of the site – a way to visually express oneself and have a little on-line or the case of the contest, off-line fame. With digital influencers and new celebrities born daily via YouTube, it makes sense that we'd culturally have a destination that serves as an over-sized portfolio of glamour shots, bios and claim-to-fame moments.

What's most impressive about About.me, is the diversity of the early adopters and digital influencers that have posted pages on the site. On a quick scroll through the site, I found pages for photographers, athletes, philosophers, actors, lacrosse lovers, consultants, bloggers, chefs, real estate professionals and more.

I spoke with Tony Conrad, the CEO and co-founder to find out more about how they launched the site. Interestingly, About.me had four employees and twenty-six advisers when they launched. The impressive advisory panel included digital heavyweights such as Kevin Rose, Dick Costolo, Veronica Belmont and Om Malik. According to Mr. Conrad, the panel alone has a collective Twitter reach of over 10 million followers that was tapped to help seed early adoption of the site by key influencers.

"The group was also instrumental in shaping product decisions," stated Mr. Conrad. "Now we have over a million registered users in only 250 days since we launched. At this stage, we've grown faster than Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In in terms of new users in our first year. That's super exciting for us as it's a great indicator that our core value proposition for profile owners/ profile readers is working, " said Mr. Conrad.

The spotlight, featured and inspirational directories with featured user pages are a graphic designers dream. High-end photography, sophisticated layouts and well-laid out type treatments pepper the visuals. This site could be intimidating for the creatively impaired.

With Google +, Facebook and Twitter, one could ask, "Is there room for another social media site?" The truth is, About.me is better described as a one-stop site for aggregating your social media sites. If social media was a house, About.me could be viewed as your front door.

Each user profile page can include links to twenty-one other services; from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram to Wordpress, these and a bevy of other sites can be linked to your custom profile page. In it's simplest form, About.me is your on-line business card for all of your web-based information and pages.

The team at About.me has also integrated Klout data and the ability to push out information about your About.me page in your email signature, on social sites and via search engines. The downside of About.me is that in its current format, pages are art-like, static and not necessarily changing on a frequent basis. Page views to the site are driven by user promotion via emails signatures, in social media, via search terms and more.

Mr. Conrad did add, "that in Q1 2012, the company will launch an API that will help About.me move from a product and service site to a portable platform. Making the product portable and creating a simple way for developers to build on top of the profiles will be a game changer and it's only possible because we've achieved initial scale."

Interestingly, some About.me users are using the site to post resumes, baby announcements, fund-raising notices and more. Perhaps About.me will be another tool to help up get to a paperless society? Business card and holiday announcements could soon be an archaic reflection of the past. Please feel free to post comments or questions to Porter Gale on Twitter at @portergale.

Porter Gale Porter Gale is former VP of Marketing at Virgin America. She is a pubic speaker, marketing and social media expert and contributor to AdAge and The Huffington Post. Porter is working on a stealth start-up that will hopefully launch next year. She can be reached at @portergale.
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