IQ News: Community Service: Lycos Launches “Sticky” Clubs

In an effort to expand its existing online community base, Lycos
Networks today will launch Lycos Clubs, a suite of communication tools that allows members to create in-browser, virtual clubhouses based around shared interests, ranging from accounting to zoology. The new toolset, which is free to users, includes instant messaging, e-mail and offline paging services.
“The real focus is getting users to connect and establish relationships,” said Mark Stoever, director of product management for community and personalization at Lycos.
According to Stoever, advertisers can superserve highly targeted ads to the Lycos audience with information derived from Club members, who customize their individual profiles with as much or as little data as they prefer. Members can opt-in to clubs or accept invitations from Club creators.
Last year, Waltham, Mass.-based Lycos unveiled its community building tools and Stoever said Lycos Clubs will integrate new proprietary tools into those communities, allowing members to quickly and easily make connections based on their affinity.
Also beginning today, banners will roll out throughout the Lycos Network of sites, as well as on other sites, heralding the launch of Lycos Clubs. Lycos has already seeded some clubs based on interests of Lycos users, but the company expects new clubs to form organically. “What we’ve really tried to do is emulate the real life formation of clubs combined with the advantages of virtual life,” said Alka Gupta, product manager of Clubs.
Members can create private and public clubs, with unique rooms within each clubhouse. Any user can create a club and anyone can join. Microsoft Internet Explorer users can also manage their clubs and buddy lists directly from their desktop.
Gupta said she has high hopes for Clubs. “We expect Clubs to grow astronomically as users get familiar with the tools.”