Forget cute pictures of kittens and boring status updates about last night's dinner – social networking is about to get exciting.
This is the claim of Magnus Malmberg, spokesman and co-founder of Challengera – a Swedish/French network launched last week that aims to get people off their couch and into real life.
“There's nothing in the world like this, at least nothing that we could relate to,” Malmberg tells The Local.
“Challengera” is a platform where people can get motivated by challenging themselves or others to achieve a specific goal. Challenges range from the simple and personal things like losing weight, or getting in shape, to more ambitious objectives like cycling from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole.
In fact, daredevil Eric Larsen has already challenged himself to do just that, a world-record feat he aims to tackle in mid-December.
“Eric's a pro-adventurer; he lives and dies for challenges. He was the first person in the world to reach the peak of Everest, and the North and South poles within a 365-day period,” Malmberg explains.
Now, Larsen has used the social network to dialogue with fans as he cycles over 1,000 kilometres through sub-zero temperatures – all while raising money for various charities.
However, there's a lot more to the project than stunts and weight loss.
The company, which consists of a five-man team of management consultants, developers and a senior entrepreneur, explains that the concept is only limited by the imagination of the user.
“It doesn't have to be all about you. The challenges can also be about learning how to play an instrument with a friend, or passing an exam, or doing something stupid like having a doughnut eating contest."
"And of course, you can use other social media platforms to shout out how you're doing. The sky is the limit."
Malmberg is also quick to point out that the "social" aspect of the network is among its strongest attributes.
“Facebook is great for communication, but there no social network to it. You go there simply to be there, not to actually do anything. With Challengera, you can meet people, get in shape, and get motivated.”
So what's in it for the challengees?
Besides self-esteem, pride, and gaining the respect of others in your groups (called tribes), there's a point-based system complete with regularly updating leader boards. Company-created challenges also have the possibility of adding their own prizes.
In essence, the more exciting the challenge you create and the more “followers” it gets, the more chances you have of taking home something, besides just the satisfaction.
And people are listening. Celebrities, athletes, and artists have already been in contact with the team to see how they can be involved.
While tight-lipped about plans after the world record attempt, Malmberg did reveal that the number of members is nearing 700 and showing no signs of slowing.
“Our tagline is ‘If it's not on Challengera – it probably never happened'. It's a way of showing who you are and proving it. You can let the world know who you are through the challenges you make and accomplish,” Malmberg tells The Local.
“But most of all have fun.”
Eric Larsen in practice for the Antarctic cycle