Grouply, a startup that’s built around creating an managing online groups from Google and Yahoo Groups, is launching a more customizable and social version of its service. Launched in 2006, Grouply was one the pioneers of the socialization of groups and essentially lets users combine features of social networks and online groups, incorporating Google and Yahoo Groups products.
The latest version of Grouply, which currently hosts 1.6 million groups, has been enhanced to provide many more customization tools for Grouply groups, giving users the ability to transform the simple appearance of any Google or Yahoo Group into a modern, sleek, colorful website. Grouply provides built-in themes and well as custom templates that can be tweaked easily and without any programming knowledge.
Grouply is also adding features that make it more like a social network instead of a simple group. Groups will now have social activity feeds, directories, and can also promote their groups through search-engine optimization. Users can also see analytics about groups and user activity. And users can monetize groups by running ads and collecting membership fees, donations and event fees. Grouply collects money via a freemium model.
The platform faces competition mainly from Ning, which is steadily growing and already launched many of these features. But in contrast to Ning, Grouply is more centralized around Yahoo’s and Google’s group products, which are still alive and well. In fact, Google, which says its Groups service is one of its most popular products, recently rolled out a a deeper integration of Groups as a feature of its enterprise-focused productivity suite Google Apps. Grouply is also planning to launch integration with Facebook and Twitter soon, and will allow users share their Grouply activities with their friends and followers in the two social platforms.