Recently, my good friend, Rosemary O’Neill, President of Social Strata, was good enough to grant me an interview about the most #RockHot name for a company solution I know — Hoop.la. We originally met via Social Slam, my used-to-be-favorite spring fling that is now defunct. I love to give her grief about her crazy Twitter handle (@rhogroupee) and for that she’s now affectionately called RoHo. In all seriousness, her company’s latest community application is pretty cool, and we’re sharing here in a Q&A that’s sure to get your juices flowing, so grab a spittoon.
What is a Hoop.la? Do you have to sing that?
First of all Jayme, I love the way you say “Hoop.la!” Hoop.la is an online community application that integrates blog, forums, chat, calendar, and media/file uploads in an easy-to-use (and mobile-friendly) interface. It’s SaaS, so there’s no software to install, no plug-ins. Hoop.la was first released in 2010, and is currently supporting over 4,000 sites serving millions of page views every day.
Who would need this?
Well, we’ve got customers ranging from small non-profits using our free Hoop.la Spark plan to run their donor/volunteer communities all the way up to Pro Enterprise-level deployments for Rodale’s Runner’s World Magazine community. If you’re a business looking to create a social hub on your own website, and wanting to pull together your crazy array of social “outposts” (as Chris Brogan calls them), you might want to check out Hoop.la.
Do I have to give up my WordPress blog?
No. That’s the cool thing. Hoop.la is designed to be really flexible, so that you can turn off or on any of the modules (like blogging or chat) with the click of a button. We also offer import services, if you do decide to bring over your existing blog or forum content from another platform.
How can you fit Hoop.la in with the rest of your website?
You can easily make custom pages within Hoop.la that have any HTML you like. Also, there are built-in widgets that are embeddable on your existing site; so, for example, if you want to pop a widget that shows recent forum topics on your home page, you can do it with the click of a button. No geekery required. (However, if you’re feeling saucy, you can access the custom CSS to really tailor the look and feel.)
How is this better than just using a Facebook page?
Would you like to be earning SEO juice for yourself instead of Mark Zuckerberg? We definitely aren’t saying you don’t need Facebook; however, every business should have their own social “center of gravity” that’s under their direct control. With Hoop.la you own the data and you control the experience, period. We have lots of customers who are successfully cross-pollinating from their Facebook page to their Hoop.la site, making even more engagement opportunities.
Can I use it for private or internal communities too?
Definitely! Hoop.la is designed with really granular permissions, so you can keep the whole site public, or you can restrict certain features or forums, and you can even monetize certain activities with built-in premium memberships (no merchant account required). Long John Silver’s is using Hoop.la for its private, internal franchisee community.
Hoop.la is worth checking out, Jayme adds. Please do reach Roho aka Rosemary O’Neill at 206-283-5999 ext 106 for a demo.