Notabli, a start-up media archiving tool developed in Burlington, Vermont, aims to give parents a handy way to curate pictures and other content documenting their kids' growth, with safety in mind. Parents manage a private network by inviting only their closest family and friends to view photos and videos of their children.
The company describes its free-to-download app and new desktop web service, now in the beta phase, as changing the dynamic of social media.
"This is, potentially, the only social network that's not about you," Notabli co-founder Jackson Latka said. "This is about your kids, from the very beginning onward."
Latka added that in the early days of social media, people were on a frenzy to add friends and share a lot of information with their networks. Now, he said, he is seeing social media users who want to dial back their connectedness, focusing more on quality interactions with their closest friends and family rather than on the quantity of members in their networks or their number of posts.
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Latka, a dad and experienced digital designer and marketer, acknowledged Notabli has plenty of competition from names like Instagram, Facebook, and other newer, smaller apps. But Latka said he believes his ad-free pledge, sleek look, parental controls, and easy organizing tools set his team apart.
"We aren't taking a stance against those networks, we're just trying to work really well with them to be a complementary service that fills the needs of parents," Latka told New England Cable News.
While currently available to people who use iPhones and desktop computers, Notabli will appear on Android devices early in 2015, Latka said. He said the company is still working on developing ways to monetize the service, hinting one way could be to sell photo prints. Premium charges for extra services may come down the road to support Notabli's ad-free model, Latka said.
Elaine Young, a digital marketing professor at Champlain College in Burlington, and the author of "Tuned-In Family: How to Cope, Communicate and Connect in a Digital World," said the social media landscape is fragmenting, with more services popping up to target niche groups.
Asked how many more social networks our culture can sustain, Young said, "As many as we want. As many as there are interests."
Young said Notabli's target audience, parents of young children, are particularly passionate consumers, who are likely willing to purchase add-ons or other eventual premium extras through Notabli.
"They just have to stay fresh with what they offer," Young said of Notabli.
Michelle Scott, a Burlington mother of two, said she signed up for Notabli because she worried pictures shared on other social media services could end up somewhere on the internet where she didn't want them.
"It's a little bit of a concern" Scott told NECN of her photo privacy needs. “I really trust Notabli."
Scott said another value of Notabli is that it helps reign in a sense of "over-sharing" she has noticed on other social media services. She said she loves sharing photos of her kids, 2-year-old Leland and 6-year-old Ruby, but acknowledged, sometimes, parents can go overboard.
"The people who I'm friends with on Facebook, how many pictures of my kids do they really want to see?" Scott said, describing how her Notabli network is tailored to reach her loved ones who are the most interested in photos, videos, quotes, and other moments from her children's lives. "My mother, on the other hand; she wants me to upload something 10 times a day to Notabli."