Or how many people hate it? I attended a session recently where one of the speakers (Dave McClure) was very passionate about this topic. And with good reason. All of us who have tried making consumer internet ideas a success know that the enemy is not people hating our product, but people just not caring enough to comment, talk about it with others, or in any other way spread the word around.
Most startups rely on some form of word of mouth propagation. Assisted by tools for sharing, it is known as viral, but the basic concept remains the same. In either case, some user has to care enough to click on something and let other people know. People will spread the word around either if they love your product or if they hate it. But if they just like it or don’t care enough, then the product has very little chance of survival. Dave, at the conference, made it more dramatic by suggesting that we think in terms of how many people are willing to ‘fuck’ or ‘kill’ our product.
After coming back home, I realized that it is still very vague. How many people want to fuck my product? I don’t know if anyone wants to fuck Amazon, but there it is, a huge success. Killing the product is easier to understand, but I still fail to imagine how many people want to kill a bad product (maybe a competitor, but the competitor is unlikely to give any press). However, when I started thinking about it, I came up with my own paradigm. In addition to asking how many people LOVE your product, it is also important to ask how many people LIVE your product.
With every consumer internet business, the early adopters are the ones that will make the business. These early adopters do things which sometimes astonish the business owner as to why they are doing it. For example, there are people who have generated thousands of reviews on epinions in the early days. Noone could have know what those people will derive, except some form of satisfaction. The key is that some people should absolutely LIVE your product day in and day out. This means that if you are in a vertical, then go and find those people who live that vertical as a lifestyle. For example, for gigzee, we want to attract the youngsters who live the whole live music/club lifestyle. If even a small number of such people use our product every day and can remember it by name, then the chances of a positive recommendation from them is going to be very high. Additionally, the chances of them recommending to someone else is also very high. These early adopters form the basis for the increasing set of users who will derive the additional benefit from the product.
So, next time when you are designing features to move from 0 to critical mass, ask yourself, how many people will LOVE your product. But don’t neglect how many people will LIVE your product.
For more on how to measure the engagement from these early adopters, read this excellent post by Andrew Chen.