The Problem We are Solving
The problem: How can friends and families share memories in an easy-to-use, digital, private forum? We don’t think current public social networks offer optimal answers to this problem, and we hope to provide a solution. Our answer, the Families Connect application, is intended as an alternative to public social media networks. The Families Connect application lets users build private family web pages and share information with people selected by them.
A Splash of Cold Water in the Face
Based upon this simple idea, we built the Families Connect application. Shortly after launching a beta version of the application, I created a family web page and included photographs of family member’s cildren. With great hope and enthusiasm, I invited family members to view the family album, and asked them to take a look and tell me what they thought.
From one family member, I received a splash of cold water in the face. The first time he looked at the application, he found an offensive ad next to a photo of his beautiful daughter.
This soured him on his experience with Families Connect, which I understood.
I didn’t like seeing the advertisement beside a photograph of my grandchild.
Why Have We Run Ads on the Application?
There are a handful of routes to financial viability for a business like Families Connect, one of which is to run advertising. This is often the most accessible path.
Businesses with much larger scale have enhanced options to monetize their product. These companies can collect an enormous amount of data about customers, which is used to make the sites effective vehicles for advertisers.
Jaron Lanier, a computer philosopher, examines the financial model behind public network companies in Who Owns the Future. “The clamor for online attention only turns into money for a token minority of ordinary people, but there is a new, tiny class of people who always benefit,” Lanier writes. The winner, the house hosting the poker game who always wins, is: “Those who keep the new ledgers, the giant computing services that model you, spy on you, and predict your actions, turn your life activities into the greatest fortunes in history.”
We–all of us users of public social networks–create content (stories, photos, videos, whatever) and we give it away. We post on public platforms and aren’t paid a nickle, which creates value for the owners and managers of the networks.
The public network option isn’t available for Families Connect. We don’t have the scale, and we don’t (and will not) collect and sell data about our users.
Our Answer–Fair Pay for Fair Value
Another option for a business like Families Connect, and the one we have chosen, is to offer users a premium version of the application on a subscription basis. That is what we are now doing. We are now pleased to be offering an ad-free version of Families Connect application.
For only $5/month or $50/year (with no long term commitment) users can subscribe for an advertising-free version of the application. Families Connect will continue to offer a free version of the application; it will limit users to 500 posts and will continue to run advertising. We believe this offers a fair exchange between Families Connect and our users.
We hope our users will share our desire to preserve and share their family memories in an advertising-free environment, and will subscribe for the premium version of the application.
If you are already a user, simply click Upgrade Plan on your Families Connect dashboard. If you are a new user, go to our home page and you will see how to sign up.
We Now Offer the Product We Wanted to Offer from the Beginning
We are thrilled to have reached this point in the evolution of Families Connect. This is the product that we hoped to offer from the beginning. We hope you will join us and subscribe for the updated, premium Families Connect application.
Rick Bryant is the founder of Families Connect, LLC. He is also a husband, father of three adult children, and a grandfather to two. Before Families Connect, Rick founded and built an investment advisory business, co-founded a served as a partner in a private equity investment business, worked in investment banking, and practiced securities and corporate law. Rick reads widely, enjoys hunting and fishing, and has great ambitions for bees and his vegetable garden.