Trover, the location-based photo sharing service that launched in April, has released a substantial update to its mobile application. The app has added both a lists feature and tagging functionality as well as a revamped newsfeed, which brings users’ curatorial activity (i.e. “thanks,” comments, and list-adds) into the thread.
The features are not groundbreaking innovations, but the update marks a big step for the venture-backed company. With Gowalla selling to Facebook in December and the SoLoMo space appearing to be increasingly Foursquare’s for the taking, Trover’s announcements could not have come sooner.
Trover CEO Jason Karas says that the application has seen a 30 percent increase in user activity since last speaking with Street Fight in late November — a growth rate the company is proud of considering its content-first roadmap.
“We’re at the point now where users are really beginning to create great content, and they are doing this at scale,” Karas told Street Fight in an interview. “For the first five months, we’ve been discovery-creation focused, and now we’re beginning to be able to harness curation as a critical tool in creating great hyperlocal content.”
Trover’s growth model is more media-based than the transactional “Where are you now?” use case developed by Foursquare in its early stages. Karas says that the focus on generating quality content may slow the company’s growth and limit the frequency of posts — but with much of the conversation around social media now focusing on managing signal-to-noise problems, the timing for a content play may be right.
In keeping with the emphasis on quality content, Trover has tapped into community influencers, like neighborhood bloggers, to expand user adoption in hotspots like the company’s hometown of Seattle as well as other early adopter markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles. “By seeding Trover with hyperlocal influencers, we’ve been able to start fires that have grown into the wider communities,” Karas said about the strategy.
In a sense, Gowalla’s big mistake was its failure to leverage local institutions as a means of engaging users early on. By the time the now-deceased geo-social pioneer relaunched with a handful of media partners in October, Foursquare had already zoomed ahead with, among other things, a merchant strategy that leveraged local businesses in creating a value-proposition for consumers.
As small radius-media proliferates and continues to search for more profitable business models, Trover’s content-oriented approach seems quite viable. As we’ve discussed before on Street Fight, location-based services and hyperlocal media efforts have a lot to offer one another: a service like Trover could provide a second life for hyperlocal news; and inversely, hyperlocal media brands could give the company an important entry point to taste-making markets.
Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.