You’re crazy with your friends, serious with your co-workers, and sweet with your parents. Now you can share those distinct personalities with their matching audiences thanks to Hmmm, a mobile app launching today that aims to let you be yourself online, whoever that is.
Facebook friend lists and Google Circles have proven too clumsy for selective sharing. They’ve led to the rise of Path, which eliminates the decision making by creating a social micronetwork of your closest friends, but all your favorite people aren’t there, and not every post is appropriate for everyone you love. Hmmm lets you create separate avatars for each of your identities, and publish to pre-made sets of Hmmm and Facebook friends. Plus, Hmmm will soon be able to notify a friend that says they’re bored when you post that you want to see a movie.
Hmmm’s co-founder Archana Patchirajan tells me “I’m a daughter, I’m a student, I’m a co-founder. We all have nicknames and social groups. It’s unrealistic to have one profile. We wanted to give users a flexible platform to express themselves the way the do in real life.”
Hmmm doesn’t just structure who you share to, but what you share as well. There’s categories like activities, emotions, places, music, and photos, but also tags like “happy” or “inspired” for emotions, or “working” or “celebrating” for activities. The next version of Hmmm will include its “inference engine” that can match people with complementary posts. Like two people who are shopping nearby each other, or someone doing something exciting with someone bored.
You can also use Hmmm as a layer on top of Facebook. The app creates feeds of posts by Facebook and Hmmm friends of your avatars. You can like and comment from within Hmmm and that feedback will appear back on Facebook.
The bootstrapped Sol Studios plans to monetize Hmmm with Sponsored Stories-style social ads, where small businesses, record companies, and consumer packaged goods companies pay to increase the presence of posts that mention them. It originally considered sponsored gamification, but I persuaded the team that would clutter the app and make it confusing, so they stripped it out.
In the Disrupt Battlefield Q&A, Patchirajan explained that Hmmm won’t limit the number of connections you can have, the way Path caps you at 150. She said Hmmm would succeed because competitors’ approaches to micro-sharing are “very unnatural. Finally, she explained the confusing name of her product as…the sound you make when you’re confused who to say something with.
Hmmm’s biggest challenge will be convincing users to endure the friction of choosing an audience, content type, and sub-tags just to publish something to friends. Path’s near decision-less publishing is a pleasure and I fear Hmmm could be a pain. But those who want to share their split-personality but are serious about privacy should give Hmmm some thought.