Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites have become a way of life for people all over the world over the last decade, but has anyone ever considered “localizing” them to suit the needs of their own section of the globe?
That is what drove Barbadian graphic artist and web designer, Daniel De Souza, to come up with CaribLime, a Caribbean-oriented social media website.
“I used Facebook and the other social media on a regular basis, and one day as I was trying to promote one of my other businesses I wondered ‘why would local and regional businesses want to use an international platform to reach their customers closer to home?’ It really didn’t make sense to me. So, a couple of days later I got this crazy idea and asked myself, ‘is there a social media platform catering to Caribbean people?’ I looked and I didn’t see any, so I thought, ‘let me see whether I can create something’,” he told Barbados TODAY.
De Souza ran with his idea, but he quickly recognized that creating a social networking site was different to creating a typical website.
“So I had to go through a number of online courses to see how it was done, but I got through. Planning and development took six to eight months, and we launched officially on Good Friday this year,” he said.
CaribLime has a few distinguishing features not found on other social media platforms.
“Soon we will be offering file sharing in terms of Word, Excel and PDF, which Facebook does not offer, and this will be especially helpful to our business clients. We will also offer a points system where users will gain points for doing certain things. I am not sure yet what will happen once these points are accumulated, but you will gain points based on your level of activity on the site,” he said.
“Beyond that, we are more user-friendly when it comes to adding or deleting friends from your network, and we are more Christian-oriented, in that we have a daily Bible quote and a Christian friends network, which I set up, that features information and videos on Christian topics, regardless of denomination.”
De Souza said people who speak different languages, including Dutch, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese, will be able to log on in their native language.
“We already have that feature, but we are presently refining it,” he said.
Since its launch, CaribLime has gained 168 subscribers, based primarily in Barbados, and a few from Guyana. De Souza is focused on increasing membership, primarily among commercial customers.
“We have a business page which enables users to change their ad space, update their backdrop, and put all their contact information on it. We already have a few business owners and lecturers on the site, and if you want to start a blog you can also do so via CaribLime,” he explained.
De Souza said he is in the process of developing a smartphone app with an Indian company, since he found that local and regional firms were too expensive.
“I started this website from my own funding, with no outside help. What I need is exposure to the public and support from regional and local companies. We want to get CaribLime to a place where we can be self-sustaining, and there are some small business groups and associations that can benefit from it. I am presently in discussion with the head of the local Chamber of Commerce, and it would be useful to get those organizations in the other islands on board as well,” he said.
“There is nothing like this in the Caribbean, and if utilized properly it will create a better bond between regional businesses and regional customers. For example, if you have a new product coming out it will be better to market it initially to regional customers. We would like to be in a position where Caribbean businesses first say, ‘Follow us on CaribLime’, before they say, ‘Follow us on Facebook and Twitter’,” he added.
De Souza said that, so far, the website performance has been strong and he is confident it will continue to grow.
“I am giving this the full five years you are supposed to give a start-up company, and I am confident that within that five-year period we will become self-sustaining,” he said. “There are about eight million people in the Caribbean region; if we get that sort of traffic, even 50 per cent of that on our platform, I believe regional businesses will benefit greatly.”