CitySpeek hopes to appeal to Twitter-phobic

Scared to jump head-first into Twitter? Buried under a boring Twitter stream? CitySpeek wants to hear you ‘speek’! CitySpeek is a Portland-based micro-messaging service that launched a soft beta in early December and just hit my radar. Naturally, there are a lot of similarities to Twitter. You’ve got a stiff 140-character cap, you can reply to ‘speeks,’ save them as favourites, and nudge quiet users. However, CitySpeek pre-emptively answers the “Isn’t that just like Twitter?” question with a no: CitySpeek also offers open and private groups, integrated pics and videos, speeks by category (Overheard, For Sale, Question, News, Rumor, Review, Funny, CheckiT, Event and Info), seamless integration with IM and Twitter, and automatic photo uploading to Flickr.

The fate of CitySpeek obviously rests on its ability to draw in users. The user base is currently pretty tiny – it looks like it has the potential to be a fun site once some of the UI kinks are worked out, especially since it offers some features that Twitter sorely lacks. Co-founder and Business Manager Jeff Martens told me that CitySpeek is designed to appeal to the everyday user, those “other 300+ million English-speaking internet users NOT on Twitter.” One has to imagine that they are also hoping to take a big bite out of Twitter’s userbase.

I really like their concept of categorized Speeks – what I think is best about it is that you can search through public Speeks by category. Check out events, questions or funny stuff; what might be really interesting tweets often get buried in my Twitter stream, and this is a way to sort through posts if you are looking for something in particular. You can receive speeks through the CitySpeek website, or through IM or email.

CitySpeek is also hoping to appeal to small businesses, encouraging owners to start a group dedicated to their business. They are hoping to go mobile sooner rather than later. Their API is there for grabs on the site, and they’re actively encouraging community engagement. The site is deploying Google ads right off the bat and is looking at other revenue streams for the near future.