published Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

LifeKraze chalking positive messages on Chattanooga sidewalks to promote social network

Joda Thongnopnua with LifeKraze draws on the sidewalk with chalk in Coolidge Park on Saturday. Instead of a traditional marketing campaign, LifeKraze used sidewalk chalk to raise awareness of their brand.
Joda Thongnopnua with LifeKraze draws on the sidewalk with chalk in Coolidge Park on Saturday. Instead of a traditional marketing campaign, LifeKraze used sidewalk chalk to raise awareness of their brand.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
IF YOU GO

LifeKraze is trying to cover Chattanooga's sidewalks in positive chalk messages to promote the social network and its Wednesday night event. LifeKraze will host a glow-in-the-dark exhibit featuring ping pong and four square from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Walnut Street Bridge.

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    Jonathan Yagel with LifeKraze, left, draws on a sidewalk in Coolidge Park with Darlyn Najera.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
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One Chattanooga company wants to tell you you're important, to have a great day, and you really should call your mom.

Those are some messages online activity-sharing startup LifeKraze is chalking on sidewalks across the Scenic City. The messages are a gambit to raise awareness of the LifeKraze site and a Wednesday night glow-in-the-dark exhibit that's part of the weeklong HATCH Chattanooga arts festival.

"We wanted to demonstrate our support of Chattanooga and the innovative things that are going on around here," said Jonathan Yagel, director of business development at LifeKraze. "Our mission as a company is to encourage people to live life like it counts."

LifeKraze is a social media platform where users set personal goals and award points to friends who move closer to their own goals. Those points are used for discounts at LifeKraze retailers such as Rock Creek.

Most of LifeKraze's chalk messages feature a hashtag, an online code popular with Twitter. The hashtag, #Chalk, represents both the obvious, "chalk," and the more subtle "Chattanooga LifeKraze."

"We've gotten a couple mentions from it, and retweets and Instagrams from it," said Joda Thongnopnua, who does marketing for the social site. "That's what the goal was, to see people reacting in a positive way."

The company hopes to see even more positive reactions in the coming months, when LifeKraze launches its mobile application for the iPhone and Android phones. User growth has slowed considerably as the 10-person LifeKraze staff turned its focus to developing the application. In the company's first seven months, the site reached 23,000 users. In the five months since then, they've moved up to around 24,000.

"We really do expect to see a lot of growth," Yagel said. "We expect the app to be one of the best-designed apps in the entire app store."

The application will be similar to the Twitter and Facebook applications already on the market. Unilke those applications, Yagel wants its users to be able to have the complete LifeKraze experience on the go.

Facebook received criticism for its free mobile application because, though user-friendly, it has no advertisements and therefore no revenue stream. With LifeKraze, advertising is an integral part of the application. Users seek out the site's sponsors when looking to spend their points. The more sponsors on LifeKraze, the more options users have when looking to spend their points.

"The sponsors want the involvement. The users want more companies involved," Yagel said. "These rewards are in place. There's a sort of positive transaction."

Yagel expects the application to launch by the end of the summer.

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