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Social networking is going back to the real world, and it's thirsty for a cold one.
Shares of MeetMe (NYSEMKT: MEET ) bucked last week's malaise, soaring 25% after announcing the launch of Photoboard.
In a marketing partnership with 560 different bars across the country, smartphone-toting patrons will be able to use MeetMe's Photoboard app to add their pictures to digital screens. The thinking here is that folks will be able meet new people through the location-specific app, taking things one step further for the check-in craze that Foursquare and more recently Facebook (Nasdaq: FB ) have popularized. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) promotes its Find My Friends app, but this is more along the lines of a Find My New Friends application.
It's a fitting real-world move for MeetMe. The company that used to be called Quepasa acquired the parent of the larger myYearbook late last year, rebranding itself this year as MeetMe to more effectively showcase its social discovery strengths.
As far as investing goes, social networking -- outside of LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD ) -- has been a wasteland. Facebook has shed nearly half of its value since going public five months ago. MeetMe and China's Renren (NYSE: RENN ) are currently trading for less than $4 a share.
The challenge has been monetization. LinkedIn's white-collared bent has helped it stand out, attracting recruiters and other pro-minded marketers. Analysts don't see MeetMe or Renren turning a profit until 2014 at the earlier. Facebook is very profitable, but the valuation at the time of the IPO was simply too rich.
MeetMe is hoping that Photoboard will be a springboard for more interaction with its popular MeetMe app that's already generating 300,000 daily photo uploads.
Photoboard isn't just a bar app. It uses proximity to find other members that are nearby. One can almost argue that this is close to the spirit of Mark Zuckerberg's original intentions for Facebook. As long Photoboard doesn't inspire stalking, MeetMe has a good shot at winning the market's fancy again here.
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