I’m tired of sharing this generic zoom Video call invites everyone to look the same? Do you want the heading and image of your zoom link preview to actually describe your meeting? Do you want to protect your zoom calls from trolls by getting participants to RSVP to get your link? ZmURL.com has you covered.
Launched today, ZmURL is a free tool that lets you customize the URL for the invitation to zoom video calls with a title, explanation, and picture that appear when you share the link on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else. With zmurl, you can also request that participants enter their email address to decide who will approve and provide the actual entry link. This could prevent Zoombombers from bothering your call with offensive screensharing images, profanity, or worse.
“We created zmurl.com to make it easier for people to stay physically distant but socially close,” says co-founder Victor Pontis. “We hope to provide the organizers with the tools to maintain personal communities while we are all in quarantine.”
Zoom was not developed for public discussion. But with people trapped by coronavirus, the daily number of users has increased from 10 million to 200 million. This led to new use cases from cocktail parties to discussion rounds to AA meetings for school classes.
Unfortunately, this has led to new problems like “zoom bombing”, a term I coined two weeks ago to describe malicious actors who track down public zoom calls and bomb them with abuse. Since then, the FBI has issued a warning about zoom bombing, the New York Times has written several articles on the subject, and Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, has apologized.
However, Zoom has adjusted its features slowly because it has difficulty not kinking under its sudden size. While waiting rooms and screen sharing are only enabled for hosts by default for school use, most users are still vulnerable due to Zoom’s permissible settings and reused URLs, which were only developed for trusted corporate meetings. Only today has Zoom allowed itself to shift the balance further from comfort to security, switch on waiting rooms as standard and require passwords for the entry via meeting ID.
In the meantime, social networks have become a sea of indistinguishable zoom links that all preview the same blue and white logo without any information about what the call is about. This makes it much more difficult to encourage calls that many musicians, fitness coaches, and event producers rely on to make donations or payments while their work is disrupted by quarantines.
Fortunately, Pontis and his co-founder Danqing Liu are here to help with zmurl. The two software engineers got to know each other appropriately via Zoom a year ago and met only once in person. Pontis, now in San Francisco, founded the Spring and Scooter Map bike rental software. Liu from Beijing, now hiding in New York, had spent five years at Google, Uber and PlanGrid before selling his TinyMind machine learning tool.
The idea for ZmURL came from Liu, who had missed several zoom events in which he wanted to participate. Then a friend of Pontis was fired from her job as a yoga teacher and she and her colleagues tried to market their own courses through Zoom and make money. The duo quickly built a beta with zero money and tested it with some yoga gurus who found it was easier to promote events and collect RSVPs. “We are all going through a difficult time. We see our chance to help in Zmurl,” says Pontis.
To use the tool, generate a generic meeting link from Zoom like zoom.us/ji/1231231232 and enter it in ZmURL. You can upload an image or choose from photos and gradients. Then name your event, give it a description and set the time and date. You will get a shorter URL like https://zmurl.com/smy5m or you can give it a custom like zmurl.com/quidditch.
When you share this URL, your image, heading, and description will appear in the link preview in chat apps, social networks, and more. Participants who click will see a nicely rendered event page with the link to enter the zoom call and the option to add to their calendar. You can try it here, zmurl.com/aloha, as the startup is having a happy hour today at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Optionally, you can set your ZmURL calls so that an RSVP is required. In this case, people who click on your link must provide their email address. The host can then search the RSVPs and choose who should email the link back to join the call. If you see an RSVP from someone you don’t know, just ignore it so Zoombombers won’t slip into it.
Surprisingly, there appear to be no other tools to customize zoom call links. Corporate customers paid for by Zoom can only set up a landing page with an image and logo for their entire company’s Zoom account, not for specific calls. ZmURL is currently completely free. However, the co-founders are building an option to host paid events where entry fees are charged on the RSVP website, while ZmURL is making a 5% cut.
Next, ZmURL would like to add the ability to link your Zoom account to its site so that you can create call links without leaving them. In addition, active call rooms, recurring events, organizer home pages for promoting all calls, the option to add events to a public directory, email marketing tools and integration with other video calling platforms such as Hangouts, Skype and FaceTime are set up .
The biggest challenge, according to Pontis, is to learn how to bring more magic and business potential from offline events to the world of video calling. There is also a risk that Zoom will try to intervene and force ZmURL to refrain from doing so. However, this should not happen, at least until Zoom creates all of these functions itself. Or it should only acquire ZmURL.
We are dealing with an unprecedented change in behavior based on protective orders that threaten to paralyze the global economy and drive many of us crazy. Zoom has become an important utility for promoting human connection or keeping event companies alive. It should take all the help it can get.