I type out the question “What’s Your Favorite Color?” and press send. “Now I broadcast your question,” Shant Kiraz, Content Director for Vokle tells me over the live streaming screen he appears on. Suddenly, my question pops up next to Kiraz for everyone else watching the live stream to see. “Now I can say, ‘Hello Matt, love your question, thanks for the question,’ and with one click, it’s gone,” says Kiraz.
The live question and answer session is all part of Kiraz’s grand tour of Vokle’s versatile applications. “The core application is a tool to help any entertainer, experts and personalities engage with their audience in a meaningful and rich way,” Kiraz tells me during the product tour. As I make my way through Vokle’s interface, its simplicity strikes me as entirely unique among the sea of needlessly complicated social media interfaces that dot the web landscape.
I have to admit, when I first heard about Vokle I initially wrote it off as a Ustream or Stickam clone. Live streaming was something I had seen done successfully and unsuccessfully a dozen times before. However, checking out all of the live streaming site’s functions, I found that Vokle is offering something much different than just live video. “Ustream and Livestream are much like television where it is one-way streaming; you can’t really communicate with the host, you can text chat, and that’s it,” Kiraz explained,“For Vokle, it’s much more interaction-based. It is kind of like a Q&A platform.”
Vokle’s primary function is audience interaction. Although fans can follow celebrities on Twitter and Facebook, the conversations are one-sided. Vokle makes those social media conversations live and moderated so fans can have face-to-face conversations with celebrities.
“Twitter is made for engaging, but they are very shallow tweets. Vokle is really the most personal way of getting to know your audience,” explained Kiraz.
Think of Vokle like this: take the live streaming functionality of Stickam or USTREAM and mix it with the Q&A aspects of Twitter or Quora, and host the whole thing as an event. Essentially, Vokle allows users to host live stream events, invite their fans and take either text or video-based questions. Since the whole event is live, celebrities can meet and connect with their fans in real time.
Of course, if you mix live events and the Internet, some terrible things will most likely transpire. “Early on, we met the Huffington Post…what they wanted to do, for example, was bring in Michelle Obama and have a global town hall. Their fear was, what if somebody calls in and drops their pants?” Kiraz explains, expressing the main concern of any live web event. To avoid any Chatroulette-style mishaps, the team at Vokle has created a system for screening any unsavory characters. “Basically, how it works, if you have a screener on your show they can speak to your video callers before they go live. It’s kind of like radio, like a callboard,” explained Kiraz
Vokle’s big push towards mainstream social media has been primarily through YouTubers. Because digital celebrities have built careers through the personal connection that YouTube offers, Vokle seems like the perfect venue for YouTubers and their fans. Previously, the best you could hope for from a YouTuber was a response in the comments section or a mention on Twitter. Vokle now allows fans to directly interact with YouTube talent and increase that personal connection tenfold.
The live element of Vokle’s Q&A sessions also allows YouTubers to show off their improv skills. Most YouTube talent have the luxury of recording and editing, but with Vokle, creators can really connect in the raw and unedited way that live video is known for. “It makes for really compelling content,” Kiraz said. “You can’t really top live: it’s unscripted, it’s uncensored, it’s real and it’s meaningful.”