Formspring Ramps Up Social Features As It Passes 16 Million Members

Formspring, the Q&A service that lets users invite their friends to “ask them anything”, has had a wild year: since officially launching last November, the service has skyrocketed to over 16 million registered members, 40 million monthly uniques, and it’s now closing in on one billion questions answered.  Because the company is still quite small and has had to deal with actually scaling the site, Formspring’s feature set has been pretty spare until recently. Now the company has a few key new features in the pipeline.

The biggest upcoming feature, which will be launching in the next few weeks, is called ‘Connections’. Before now Formspring has had a very limited social graph — you could ‘follow’ other users, but you couldn’t see who was following you (nor could you see who was following anyone else for that matter). Visiting someone’s formspring profile has been largely a dead end, and there hasn’t been a convenient way to find interesting new people to start following. Connections should help change that.

The system won’t use the traditional ‘follow’ model seen on services like Twitter. Instead, you’ll automatically establish a connection with a user whenever you answer one of their questions or they answer one of yours (there’s more to it then this, as the system will also use weighting to show your strongest connections). Of course, many of the site’s questions are asked anonymously, and no connection will be created if you ask or answer an anonymous question.

Another highly-requested featured has been an iPhone application. Formspring still doesn’t have its own official application, but third party developer Taptivate has used Formspring’s still-private API to build one themselves. It’s called Spring, and it’s slated to land early next week — expect it to be quite popular. Formspring says that this isn’t the official app, and that it will consider building or buying one itself down the line.

The site has also just rolled out Facebook’s Like button, which should help drive as more questions get shared to users’ Facebook News Feeds. One other thing to note: Formspring’s traffic has actually dipped in the least couple months, but the company says that this is seasonal.