6th March 2012

Its stock market debut was reported as a bonanza for shareholders – but there are other, less well known services around that could prove profitable as social media users demand more from networks.

LinkedIn is one that is underestimated as it makes one clutch acquisition after another, stresses blogger Reformed Broker Josh Brown. "I'm not bullish on the stock from today's price just yet – but I am getting bullish on the story (an important precursor).

"Moreover, I think LinkedIn represents a property that could probably find new ways to monetize the massive network and data they have every month.  The fact that they've been in business so long (for a Web 2.0 company) gives investors the added confidence that there is a real asset and management team here, not just a fad."

However, Dave Pinsen comments on the blog: "I should add that the social network we're using now — Disqus — has become pretty indispensable too."

What is Disqus – and who invented it?

Disqus is a blog-comment platform that helps users build a community around a website's readers or audience – with a lot of power and a mass of data at its fingertips. It is the comment board of choice for over 1.2m websites, and growing – with around 70 million users, as its regularly updated stats show here. Today alone, at the time of writing, more than 418,000 had posted comments using Disqus.

Daniel Ha, co-founder of Disqus, started the company in 2007 while still in school, but had to drop out to work on the idea full-time. Now he runs a successful start-up with millions of users who post their thoughts – for example, their thoughts on a solution to the current Eurozone crisis – across the web.

Its platform reaches hundreds of millions of people a month across thousands of the web's largest sites, including Mashable, Engadget and CNN. In addition, it works with the most popular blogging platforms, including Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger. The company raised $10-million in funding in May 2011 alone – yet it remains under the radar.

It is certainly becoming indispensable as commenters air their views on a worldwide range of sites. And many of these thought-provoking opinions, compared to the banality of Twitter trends (Justin Bieber's 18th birthday for example) makes it a site worth investing in.

Why might Disqus shine?

Twitter now has 500 million users, catching up with Facebook's 840,000 plus – but not all of these could be considered to be ‘actively engaged' – although Facebook remains the social site with the highest percentage of active users.

In fact, just 20,000 people produce 50% of the content, reports the Metro – and that's just 0.0004% of the big number. Other research suggests that 40% of it is just useless babble.

Meanwhile, research from YouGov adds that moneysavingexpert.com, the expert consumer financial advice site, now has as many active users as Twitter- and these users are engaged in dialogue on the site's community forums, just as Disqus allows elsewhere. As well as articles on financial products, users of the site can create profiles, leave comments and interact in similar ways to other social media sites.

Disqus has the power to expand its user experience to include full-blown profiles and create a mass of revenue streams – unlike Facebook and Twitter, which while they regularly change their appearance and the facilities on offer, appear to have a smaller remit to do so to remain appealing.

Could this be a new phase – What will be the next super utility in our network quest?

Stewart Conway, Publisher and Managing Director of The Social Business Group, says: "Many agencies and marketing experts talk about the age of Brand Advocacy over Brand Equity – so this means engagement. In my mind this has to mean engagement in what you as a brand do."

And it seems Disqus is engaged – on the quiet – with its millions of users and sites, providing an invaluable tool for communities to comment and connect with each other. Watch this space…


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