Fusing community engagement with the good parts of social media

The advent of social media wrote a big check for its potential to connect people and create shared knowledge bases, but for the most popular sites, it’s a check that bounced. To understand what one company in this region is doing to create knowledge- and engagement-focused social media platforms that help people, we spoke to Karen McCord, founding CEO of Breezio.

ABERMAN: So, tell me a bit about why you started Breezio.

MCCORD: Breezio was founded out of this idea that real, true engagement happens at the level of content. And so, if we think about community and growth of community, it’s around engagement. And so, the idea is around creating a software company to enable organizations of any kind grow through engagement around their content and knowledge.

ABERMAN: You know, I find, and I know you support a lot of these efforts because of your business, I as a participant find I go to a lot of networking conference type events, and often there’s a lot of really interesting things discussed. A lot of really interesting people sharing ideas and then, unless you capture in your brain, it almost goes away. So, you talk about content; to me, content is the persistence of information. How does Breezio turn a networking event into something that has long term value?

MCCORD: Right. So, we capture the content in our platform itself, and around allow for social engagement to happen through that content. So, it is, as you just said, the content then can grow, and the knowledge base can grow, and it becomes a digital asset for companies that buy our product. And when you think about that too, right now a lot of community platforms are external. And so, this allows for companies to bring it in private, have it as their community, have curated content that’s their knowledge base.

ABERMAN: So for example, if I’m putting on a conference, and I have a great panel that’s moderated by somebody I know very well, the panel is really terrific, and I videotape it. This allows me as an organization to put that some place that is available to members, so they can comment, or they can share, but not out in the public domain.

MCCORD: That’s correct. Or, if an organization wants to be sharing that information, they can. But really, the idea is to bring it in, and not only the written word but video as well. And we allow social engagement to extend that event all the way through to the next year’s event. So, that is exactly what we’re doing.

ABERMAN: So, as you work with associations, and other organizations, give me some examples of how this has made a material difference to them.

MCCORD: I’ll share one example. The American Society of Plant Biology launched a global community called Plantae, where plant scientists can come, they co-create in the platform itself, and share that information with others trying to solve problems in that community. We’ve had other instances where open science has been community peer-reviewed, helping younger scientists learn how to write scientific papers and share their knowledge out to the world. And finally, just really creating that curated knowledge for communities in a private sense, too. So, to have that information live in kind of a library or learning path for others to follow.

ABERMAN: It’s interesting to me. You know, over the last few weeks, both here on the show and also in some of my writing elsewhere, I’ve really come back again and again to the theme that there was a lot of promise and potential in social networking, but it’s collapsed under its own weight, because of concerns about privacy and trolling and so forth. Do you think that a business like Breezio is basically an ability to take what’s best about social networking, and actually use it without the downsides?

MCCORD: Absolutely. You’ve hit the nail right on the head with what we’re trying to do, and create that. Bring your content back, and your knowledge base back to your organization yourself, and to own that information, own that message, own what your organization can do with with that knowledge and grow. I mean, it really is, if you think about it, this idea about learning organizations, it’s all about creating that environment for everybody to learn and everyone to succeed.

ABERMAN: You’ve been very active, you’ve got many engagements, or companies using your platform here in town, but you’re about to start one that I’m particularly interested in. Tell our listeners about this new initiative you’re going to announce.

MCCORD: We’re very excited about a partnership with the Maryland Technology Council, with Mindgrub, and with support from the state of Maryland, to develop an internship network for professional growth starting at the youngest age. So again, thinking about that ability for people to come into an environment, trusted environment, to seek out experts that know something about a career path, and to provide opportunities for those looking for them. So, really to actually help democratize internships, really spread the opportunity across across the state.

ABERMAN: My son, right now, is in the process of looking for a job, and he’s using online sites for a digital marketing job, and the amount of spam jobs that you get, even from using the name brands. It’s sad. So again, it runs the argument of creating a closed, curated network of trust. This would sound to me to be, I assume this is something that you all aspire to make a regional program.

MCCORD: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes. We want to be passionate about this entire region, and of course being involved with the Tandem Product Academy contributes to that. We’ve got such opportunity to make a difference for this region overall, so it’s very exciting.

ABERMAN: Well, we’re really glad to have you on the show, Karen, and congratulations with this recent improvement, and making it more possible for our young people to find the right jobs. Thanks for joining us.

MCCORD: Thank you very much.

ABERMAN: That was Karen McCord, founding CEO of Breezio.