Commission structure: A typical Chime.in page adapts elements from other social networking sites, but differs in allowing users to earn ad revenue from pages they create.
In a sense, Chime.in is offering a social-networking version of Web-publishing platforms like Wordpress, with full social features like reposting and comment threads. And each post or “chime”—often with a photo or video—fits nicely on a smart-phone screen. The overall idea is that this technology—as well as a promise of at least 50 percent of all ad revenue—will prod people to add and develop state-of-the-art content that other people find trustworthy. With time spent on social networks rising and search engines falling, “more and more people will make decisions based on social cues from people they trust, than from something they found on a search engine,” Gross says.
The ads would appear on a person’s personal profile page, or on a community page created by an individual, brand, or celebrity. Whoever created the page would get 50 percent of the revenue from any advertising Chime.in placed there. Other Chime.in users, most likely companies, could also place ads themselves on their own pages, and collect 100 percent. Gross estimates that some successful pages eventually could bring in thousands of dollars in ad revenue. The site already has gotten several entertainment companies to set up their own Chime.in pages, including E! Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Bravo.
The site is not without glitches. I created two accounts: one through Facebook (which let Chime.in search my Facebook profile information) and another directly through Chime.in. Each time it offered me a rather strange, seemingly random collection of 11 interests from which to initially choose: Apple, autos, blogworld, blogging, celebrity chefs & restaurants, comic books & superheroes, Google, marketing & advertising, macro photography, and music discovery.
I chose “music discovery” and “autos,” but I landed in the “macro photo” group. Still, this meant I got to meet my first follower: Kayla Connelly, of Moosic, Pennsylvania, a prodigious Chimer and macro photographer. I followed her, too, and was soon enjoying her intimate portraits of vodka labels, grilled-cheese sandwiches, and snow-dusted angel statues. I also learned she likes Coldplay. Her post of a white Christmas-tree light was captioned with this purloined lyric: “Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones, and I will try to fix you.”
I wondered why Connelly was Chiming. Finding no way to e-mail her directly within Chime.in, I posted a comment under one of her photos (of paint pots) and disclosed my journalistic purpose. I asked her why she would bother with Chime.in; we already have Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Digg, and many others. “Immediately addicted!” she replied. “So much easier to connect with knowledgeable users with similar interests and get feedback.”
Poking around the site, I saw groups working on crowdsourced efforts. One such group is writing a work of fiction. It’s called “The Great Story.” Here’s one of the latest passages: “Chapter 32: Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain in both the right side of my head and in my left triceps. Everything is spinning and my vision is blurry. The pain in my head greatly intensifies before …”
Within a few minutes of my chat with Connelly, I heard from Chime.in’s PR team. It turns out that Chime.in has community managers who do “human curation” of the content, to bring out the higher-quality material. One such manager—who I later learned was Joy Hepp, an “expert on Mexican travel with five Frommer’s titles under her belt”—had alerted the authorities to my inquiry.
That curated setup has some advantages, but the long-term success of Chime.in will likely depend on users eventually being able to create and manage high-quality, spam-free content without such assistance.