Mix Twitter and Digg, add jokes, get Popjam

Popjam is a new ‘social humour’ site which has launched using the Twitter ‘friend/follow’ model of social networking. In fact – but for the images of LOLcats and videos – it is so similar to Twitter in appearance and operation that it could be mistaken for a pure Twitter clone. But what we have here is a kind of Twitter-meets-Digg-meets-b3ta. And the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.

The key is that it is aiming to be universal in appeal and not niche or focussed around one demographic, which sites like College Humour and eBaumsworld effectively are. The thing is, you might hit YouTube or get an email from a friend about a niche-humour site like Icanhascheezburger. But how often do you really think to visit? Usually when some viral is being passed around. It’s PopJam’s aim to effectively ‘sit above’ all of these sources and provide an easy way for people to share and enjoy the best of the web’s funny content through one centralised channel. In aiming to be sit above all these funny links, PopJam aims to ape YouTube’s platform for video model, with ‘a platform for funny’, if that’s conceivable.

PopJam users can post images, videos and links to their profile. Registration is not required to view the content. Is this “rich-media micro-blogging”? Perhaps let’s not get into that thorny issue…

It’s not a huge suprise that they are using the Twitter mechanic. Registered users ‘follow’ other people and are themselves ‘followed’. Already Twitter is growing like a weed because of this opt-out model, as opposed to Facebook’s opt-in. Since the people you follow are generally the best arbiters of the humour that will appeal to you, Popjam has hit on a good model. Meanwhile, expect many more site to start copying Twitter’s follow model…

Popjam users can comment; click the ‘LOL’ button (akin to Digging or ‘Liking’ stuff on FriendFeed); and ‘re-post’ content. It would seem the re-tweeting concept is here to stay. The most re-posted and LOL’d stuff will get put into the PopJam ‘Funny Stuff’ section of the site. Every piece of funny content on PopJam has a permalink page and related content, so virality is in-built.

Since users earn points for posting funny stuff, the site also has a gaming element to it, along the lines of the Karate belt system, ending in ‘PopJam Ninja’ status. There is a leaderboard for this:

As for the Twitter aspect, the site doesn’t yet integrate with Twitter, though that’s ‘in the plan’.

In their favour is a master of the populist hit, co-founder and CEO, Alex Tew, formely the wunder-kid behind The Million Dollar Home page and most recently the Sockandawe smash hit viral game.

The startup is backed by an undisclosed amount of angel funding from lead investor Paul Birch (a co-founder of Bebo with Brother Michael), while Michael Smith (of Mind Candy, Firebox) and Tom Boardman (also Firebox) also participated. In closed, stealth-mode alpha version since August last year, Tew is joined by co-founder and CTO Michael Halls-Moore and lead developer Matt Bennett.