The concept of checking in to physical locations is still relatively new itself, but the team over at OneTrueFan are taking a bet on a different type of check in. OneTrueFan is a browser add on that allows users to check into websites. It’s kind of like a virtual passport for the web. Check in and inform friends about the sites you’ve visited and in return see the sites they visit and articles they’ve shared. The end goal is to create community around the sites you and your friends visit most often. A self described “anti-network”, O.T.F. isn’t a social network per say, it’s more of a system to easily share the sites you visit naturally with little effort.
Does a web check in make sense?
After first discovering OneTrueFan it would be an understatement to say I was a bit skeptical. My biggest concern at first was that the OneTrueFan widget (a bar that appears at the bottom of your site for all to see) would be distracting to visitors. I’d been an early user of the Hello Bar (a welcome bar that pops up from the top of the browser with a link) and was pleased that I could customize it to fit in with the aesthetic of my site, however the OneTrueFan bar was slightly different. It sticks out in comparison and I wasn’t able to customize it.
Despite my initial concern I decided to stick with OneTrueFan once CEO Eric Marcoullier (co founder of IGN.com and MyBlogLog) reached out to help explain the concept. “It’s meant to be a little distracting” says Marcoullier, “the goal is to have visitors notice it and take the effort to check in and share the site amongst their friends.”
One of the biggest competitors to OneTrueFan is a service called Marginize. It’s a sidebar that lets users check in and see what others are saying about a particular site. Like OneTrueFan, Marginize is aimed at both site visitors and publishers. Unfortunately after emailing Marginize and Tweeting them several times, I’ve still yet to receive a response back. The seemingly lack of service has been discouraging to say the least.
Like many other check in services, with OneTrueFan a user can earn badges and points for checking into sites they visit, although it’s still yet to be determined if the service has staying power and can attract a large and loyal following. Right now OneTrueFan faces the common challenge that almost every social startup must overcome, the objective to gain new users while still going through an early growth stage. We’re attracted to social services in great numbers when friends and colleagues are already using the service. It’ll be interesting to see if OneTrueFan can gain enough attraction to become more than a niche offering.