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MeetMe hits growth milestone, launches in-bar photo walls

The social network aimed at teens hopes to accelerate growth further by featuring photos of users inside local taverns.

A sample Photoboard from social network MeetMe.
A sample Photoboard from social network MeetMe.

Just when you think the world has seen enough social networks, a smaller player in the game reaches a significant new milestone.

It's been a whirlwind year for the social network now known as MeetMe. It formed in November 2011 as the result of a merger between myYearbook, which focused on teenage users, and Quepasa, a social network targeted at Latinos. In April, it rebranded the combined network as MeetMe, a network focused on helping users meet new people. It phased out the Quepasa brand for good earlier this month, and is now known as MeetMe around the world. (It's also a public company, trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MEET.)

Today the company announced some impressive acceleration in its user growth, along with a new feature that could soon find its way to a bar near you. MeetMe is now registering a new user every second -- more than 86,000 a day. That's up 300 percent since June, said Geoff Cook, the company's chief operating officer.

The number of new users spiked after MeetMe expanded into Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, starting on the Web and Android in August and following with iOS in September. The additional language support tripled MeetMe's addressable market, Cook said, and users have followed. Today, the majority of new users are coming from outside the United States. (That's not to say it's unknown stateside; MeetMe recently surpassed 1 million active users here.)

Now the company is turning its focus to the next million users. Today MeetMe announced Photoboard, a way to tag photos with a location and have them show up on digital screens in more than 500 bars across the United States.

"We think of MeetMe as the digital re-imagination of the bar or coffeehouse -- the social gathering place for a mobile generation," Cook said in a statement. "Photoboard will bridge online and offline social discovery by showcasing the photos of people interested in meeting new friends within the most popular of physical meeting places: the bar."

MeetMe partnered with Zoom Media & Marketing to bring Photoboard to digital screens in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dalas, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston, and Miami.

The bars get an easy source of photos from young people cavorting in their establishments -- MeetMe says 300,000 photos are uploaded to the service every day -- and MeetMe gains crucial exposure in far-flung physical establishments.

Pennsylvania-based MeetMe has plenty of competition in the people-discovery space -- Tagged, Badoo and Highlight are among its peers. The move to a kind of in-store advertising is an intriguing step for a company like this; time will tell whether it moves the needle for them on user acquisition.