Executives from PaperShare, a new social media site that launched Monday, believe the poor signal-to-noise ratio on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter inhibits their value for professionals. Their mission is to connect IT industry vendors, VARs, analysts and other professionals using content-driven discussions instead of inane photos of cats and Halloween costumes.
So far, more than 5,000 people have joined PaperShare, which has been in beta for the past several months. Members so far have uploaded more than 27,000 documents, including case studies, analyst reports, documents, presentations, videos and applications, PaperShare CEO David Greschler said in an interview.
"We call it a 'social content network'," said Greschler, former co-founder of Softricity and director of virtualization strategy at Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT), who joined PaperShare in June.
Douglas Brown, founder and CTO of PaperShare, says content authors sometimes find it difficult to make their work more engaging. PaperShare, he said, identifies compelling content by keeping track of which of its members are viewing what content, and how often.
"Experts can vet their content against industry thought leaders, and the end result is that you can find better content faster," said Brown.
Brown said the first version of PaperShare focuses on cloud and virtualization ecosystem. Within that heading are granular categories such as application performance monitoring, high availability clustering, mobile virtualization and performance and capacity monitoring.
"It's very easy to start connecting and getting down to exactly the type of information you want," said Brown, adding that PaperShare is working on adding database, security, finance and healthcare sections to the site.
PaperShare is also a platform for partner-to-partner networking, and Entisys, Hogan Consulting, IPM Networks and INX are actively participating in discussions, Greschler said.
"Social media sites are mainly profile led, but PaperShare offer greater professional value because it's content led," said Steve Kaplan, vice president of data center virtualization practices at INX, a Dallas, Texas-based solution provider. "It's a great place to hop on and check out a whitepaper or article."
Distribution is a key feature for PaperShare and a point of differentiation from other social media sites, Brown said. "The way distribution works on PaperShare, companies can put links and widgets on their site so that when they update that content, their changes get exposed to other sites," he said.
Online discussions are susceptible to stealth marketing by vendors and their agenda-pushing partners, and PaperShare accounts for this possibility by exposing the profile of the person contributing, indicating what other discussions they've contributed to and what content they've uploaded, Brown said.
"When you look at a person's profile, you can see a lot about who they are, what kinds of awards they've won, what certifications they have, and what other groups they've joined," he said. "When people log into PaperShare, they have to authenticate themselves. We don’t let them in unless they do."
PaperShare offers free and premium versions for individuals, and charges $10 per month or $100 per year for the latter. The company also offers basic and premium versions for businesses, both of which involve levels of company assisted promotion on the PaperShare site. Pricing for business versions hasn't been announced.