Mark Cameron Columnist

Mark is CEO and head strategist at Working Three, a strategic digital consultancy that specialises in commercialising social media activity. He works with some of Australia's, and the world's, largest and most innovative companies to create a clear picture of the new market forces, and business model disruption, being driven by social media.

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Rebekah Campbell rounds up the social media posse at SxSW

Published 06 March 2013 08:47, Updated 23 April 2013 10:32

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Rebekah Campbell rounds up the social media posse at SxSW

“The recommendations you’ll find on Posse are quite special” says Rebecca Campbell. Photo: Wolter Peeters

South by south-west, or SxSW as it has come to be known, is a mecca for those involved in the technology start-up scene. Held each March in Austin, Texas, the festival has been a launching pad for mobile apps and social media platforms that have become household names. This year an Australian social media platform that is changing the way people search for, and interact with, real-world stores, cafes and bars is going to SxSW to launch its latest offering for iPhone users.

Posse is a platform that has been gaining serious traction in the Australian market. But unlike other social media platforms that are trying to be everything to everybody, Posse is predominantly aimed at the female market. Founded by Sydney-based Rebekah Campbell and backed by prominent Silicon Valley investors, Posse.com is a lifestyle site that encourages people to share their favourite shops, meeting places, gyms, bookshops, and watering holes with their network of friends and their friend’s friends.

It’s not the basic functionality of the platform that makes Posse unique. Where Posse differs from other players in the “qualified search” market is in the experience. It’s interface is illustrative and inviting. The language it uses is playful and friendly. It is focused on helping businesses develop deep relationships with consumers, not overloading users with “special offers”.

A less mechanical design has struck a chord, especially with women: 74 per cent of the user database is female and on average they are highly engaged, socially connected and willing to share. Users of Posse create and name their own virtual streets and fill them with their favourite places in cities around the world. This approach is generating behaviour that even the tech big guns would love to duplicate – 71 per cent of users recommend five or more places – a feat that has eluded Facebook and Google. With social media, it seems men are from Mars and women are from Venus after all.

“Because we’ve made the process of recommending places fun, we learn a lot about what places are popular amongst different social groups. This means if you try searching for ‘great coffee’, ‘cocktails’ or ‘hairdresser’, Posse can show you the favourite places of your friends, friends of friends and so on. People put a lot of effort into selecting the best places to put on their virtual streets so the recommendations you’ll find on Posse are quite special” says Rebecca Campbell. She goes on to say “It’s unlocked a transformational shift in how people search. When looking for somewhere to go most people want a friend’s recommendation”, and Posse serves these recommendations up in a highly personal and entertaining way.

Since launching in beta last July, the Posse site has experienced more than 70,000 searches. The platform is ready to move to mobile devices and the US. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes a household name.

Mark Cameron is chief executive of digital strategy and social media agency Working Three

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