There are an endless number of blog posts and articles about what it takes to create a successful product. Everybody who claims expertise has their own theory. In our experience, every truly successful product that crosses the chasm and goes somewhat mainstream has a similarity we’d like to discuss: marketer friendlyness. Reddit passed a billion pageviews per month recently and formspring passed that milestone a while ago. Twitter receives *billions* per month of pageviews and Youtube is one of the largest websites on the planet. There are three keys to the marketer friendliness of a product that help it succeed in going big with consumers.
Why does marketer friendliness matter in these products?
Without the ability to promote within the ecosystem (for free), marketers have no incentive to promote the platform itself. Would Kany West have his PR guy pretend to be him on Twitter if it cost a subscription fee? Hell no. Would tens of thousands of brands have setup Facebook Fan pages if they cost money? Nope. There might be dozens…but, not thousands and certainly not tens of thousands. Even small time marketers can reap massive rewards within each of these systems.
Why isn’t Digg in this list as it surely provides marketing value, for free?
The second key here is *no limit* to the value you can reap, as a marketer, within these key platforms. Facebook fan pages can have unlimited fans…all for free. Then you can promote to your hearts content. Twitter followers are similarly unlimited…and no amount of upvoting, by the community at Reddit, will stop the traffic from flowing in. Formspring, too, doesn’t place any real limit on your profile in terms of how much you can do within their system – it’s no holds barred question, answers – no matter how wrong or right, for logged in or out users (of course, you can edit the default…but by design, it’s wide open).
Why isn’t the free value the same across these different channels?
The key to creating a distinct, huge value for your business as a marketing platform is not to create the same exact “me too” product as another platform but to create something unique, distinct, even if it’s got similar functionality as the other products or services out there. Quora is interesting, as you can post links in the questions…but you can do that on tumblr, answerbag, blurtit and nearly every other q&a site out there.
Formspring: only massive channel where you can get anon questions, support, advice or other about your product, service or brand.
Youtube is the only real video channel that lets you reach hundreds of millions of views.
Twitter is the only way you can truly email spam the broadcast to the masses…and your spam has to be *interesting enough* to gather the attention to drive value, where regular email can’t be shared as easily.
Reddit is the only place left with a democratic, vote driven list of links…digg successfuly integrated ads that are hard to tell are ads, restricted search, restricted submission and more which makes the product a chore to use. Reddit is still easy and fun.
Facebook is the only feature rich business profile that can get liked and reshared across, essentially, the entire internet…sure, you can create a business profile elsewhere (Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp, etc) but it won’t have the reach, scale or massive spread in those systems as they aren’t designed to facilitate the spread of in system marketing messages. In fact, each of those puts distinct limits and roadblocks.