New Yorker Red Fabbri is a former NBC page who worked for several major shows, including "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," before joining NBC News as a production assistant and then a content producer.
In 2011, he left his job as a producer in charge of social media at NBCUniversal, Inc. to found prollie, a social media analytics and user discovery tool, with his brother Mike.
In this exclusive interview, Fabbri discusses how prollie came to be, what makes it unique, and the state and future of influence in social media.
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Red, thank you for answering my questions. What gave you the idea to create prollie?
Red Fabbri: My brother Mike and I had the idea because it was a service we wanted to use. There was no good way to find people to follow on Twitter, Tumblr and others based around topics and their proper usage of the network. So we started prollie to fill that hole, but also explore the ways that people want to really connect and converse on social media.
CM: What is the story behind the name of the service?
RF: "Prollie" is said the way you pronounce "probably" when you say it quickly to someone out loud. To us, it's used to signify "you'd prollie like this person" when you search on our site. But it came from years of my brother, our friends and I saying it in normal conversation, and just happened to fit perfectly for this product.
CM: What makes prollie different from other influence measuring tools like Klout, PeerIndex or Kred?
RF: First and foremost, we do not measure "influence." We are all about skill on the social networks, and your passions while on them. Every network is a cool and unique platform, with different tools and ways to express yourself. Just like writing a letter and sending a text are two different types of communication, each network is a unique way to add to the overall social "conversation."
So we look for those people who are using each network to its fullest and really giving a robust experience to their followers. Then, we determine a user's "passions" based upon more than just textual analysis of their tweets and updates. We look for what you say, what you like, who you follow, where you check in, and what you have done. That way, we can really triangulate what a person is passionate about on social media. We also use letter grades, and do not grade on a curve, to encourage people to be as good as they can be.
Once we have our qualified users in the prollie system, they have the option to be found for how well they use social media, and what they are passionate about. That may be the second biggest difference: We are about showcasing qualified users who want and deserve to be found, and giving you the ability to go to the networks and follow them.
We're not creating another social network, we're creating a platform to increase your enjoyment on the awesome networks that already exist, by helping you gain followers, or helping you find new and interesting people to follow based on your passions.
CM: Prollie was officially launched at the beginning of March. How many people have joined so far, and who is the average user?
RF: Currently we have thousands of users, and we're growing every hour! We are 100% opt-in, do not grade any users who haven't signed up for our site, and do not pay for any fire hose data from anyone. As a result, I've found that our users are truly the best of the best. They are on most, if not all, of the five networks we currently measure, and want us to add more. As more users join, our passion categories become more granular and our search becomes more specific, which is the goal: Find exactly who you are looking for, where, and on whichever networks you are on.
CM: The service only works with a limited number of social networks right now (Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, Tumblr, and LinkedIn). Any plan to include more?
RF: Right now, the five networks we do connect with are really giving us a diverse and passionate user base. We have grand plans for prollie to expand at every level, especially this one. We would love to add Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus, and hope to very soon. It's a matter of their API data, but also our own growth plan. We want prollie to be the best it can be at every step of development, and not bite off too much too soon.
CM: According to you, why do people need to measure influence? And how do you think the concept will evolve?
RF: It has to evolve. People like the "influence" metric because for a user, it makes you feel "cool," and marketers love to hear that they are reaching people who can relay their message to their friends. But unfortunately, being "influential" on social media could just mean you have a lot of empty followers and say the things that get retweeted often, however unoriginal they may be. It's easily gamed, and there's no conversation involved. We're looking for those who are passionate about their life online, use each network to its fullest, and therefore are the most engaged for their followers and those they choose to follow. That, to us, is the next evolution.
CM: Anything you would like to add?
RF: Just that we are excited to see prollie grow as it has been. We appreciate every bit of feedback from our users, and all their passion for the platform. The number of people who have been sharing their grades and recommending it to their friend has caused a great deal of exhilaration for us. We're only as good as the people who use the site, and prollie is great so far because of them. Thank you prolleagues!
For more information on prollie, visit https://beta.prollie.com/.