I attended the 27 Geek Dinner last night at Melrose Arch and witnessed the unveiling of Afrigator beta by one of the founders, Justin Hartman. Afrigator launched earlier this year in Alpha and has now emerged with the ‘beta tag’ and a host of new functionality.
With the new release the Afrigator team has focused on really turning the startup into a social media aggregator instead of just aggregating blogs. This is one of the most notable changes on the new homepage layout which now features podcasts and videos together with the latest blog posts. Down the right hand side the country channels have been kicked further down and have made way for a nifty tabbed content box featuring the latest and most popular aggregated data. Also down the right is the new home for content tags which have been moved from the original loading view.
Venturing deeper into the site you will find a host of new areas – News, Podcasts and Videos. Afrigator has been integrated with the Youtube api so you can provide your Youtube account details and see your videos stream onto the site. They plan to integrate various api’s from the leading social platforms on the web likely Flickr as well which will be a part of a new images section launching in ‘3 weeks’ according to Justin/Stii.
The news area
The news area features the latest aggregated news entries from leading publishers such as ITWeb and TheTimes categorized in areas like ‘Breaking News’, ‘World News’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Technology’ just to mention a few. The news in each category can also be viewed by social filters ‘latest’ or ‘hottest’.
The blogs area
Now lets get down to the real business – the blogs area – this has been done really well – it features the latest aggregated blog posts with various content filters to find what you looking for – Latest, Hottest, Mygator (your blogs posts) and view blog content by country. Also at the top are categories in a very neat tabbed navigation categorizing the blog content for your convenience.
The same goes for the video and pod cast areas which use the same page template with content filtering and various categories.
My Gator area
MyGator is your dashboard with stats from your blog’s content featuring data such as “Who’s blogrolls do you feature in” and “Which blog posts are you referenced in?” which you an indication of your blogs activity on the blogosphere. This is also where you can track how many clicks Afrigator sends your blogs and view your blogs rankings.
You will also find a few well placed advertising banners across the site which is in line with Afrigator’s strategy to monetize their site. I think the banners aren’t intrusive at all and will held a good click through rate for their advertisers. Speaking of monetizing someone asked a question last night at the dinner regarding bloggers being paid by Afrigator for supplying them with content – I think that’s absurd. Sure, I send Afrigator tons of content from my blog network each day but in return they send me clicks – visitors (gatorlove) – its tit for tat – all I do is place their code on each of my blogs and the rest is history. Hardly anything worth receiving funds for.
Gator Love (From my Car blog)
The Afrigator blog rankings system has been removed from the top navigation and can now be found in a tabbed box down the right hand side of the site – the algorithm for determining the blog rankings is based on blog page views, inbound links and number of posts. (I think, I was well tipsy when Stii explained this)
Finally, a highlight of yesterdays Geek Dinner was that for the first time in months all four Afrigator owners where together in one room which made the beta launch that more special and a great opportunity for me to meet all of the minds behind the project.
The beta release has been executed really well and I couldn’t find any serious flaws. A few minor things – Each page you surf to as the title ‘Afrigator’ they should have it ‘Afrigator Blogs’, Afrigator Podcasts’, Afrigator News’, ‘Afrigator Videos’ etc for SEO purposes. Also the video area opens up a new window and goes to Youtube video page when you click “view video” – I would’ve grabbed the Youtube video and embedded it inside Afrigator and serve ads next to it. Sure, their aim is to just aggregate social media and link to the source but Youtube provide the embedding feature for a reason.
Afrigator has really stepped up their game and become what they always aimed to be – a social media aggregator – which is a great way to find all forms of social media at one destination. Congrats to all involved and well done on a great beta launch – Justin, Mike, Mark and Stii.
The beta is live for everyone to view here – they should make the new version live over the next two weeks – go have a look and share your thoughts below.
Previous Afrigator coverage
South Africa 1051 blogs
Kenya 122 blogs
Africa General 106 blogs
Nigeria 93 blogs
View the full list here
Official Afrigator Beta announcement here and the video of the presentation here