Got an email from a founder testing his new social app service. It is in a pre-beta state of operating. He had found responses to this testing session resulting in a much larger usage volume than he had anticipated. It looked like the service might suddenly be looking "viral" and wondered about the pattern in his users that had begun to emerge.
So I called him to see what it was all about.
His statistics revealed there was an ethnic group that had picked up the service and was rapidly spreading the word among that group. The result was a spike in traffic and rapidly growing numbers of users and usage per person.
We discussed his numbers, the facts we could find, and concluded the following:
- Geographical concentration: It was in the US, in the ABC regional sector of a cluster of US states. That area was both broad, yet more concentrated than "the entire USA."
- Ethnic concentration: XYZ ethnic profile clearly dominated. It was easily identified, and one existing throughout the USA. It was not "everyone."
- Age range concentration: That could use more facts and numbers, but the founder was confident "the younger adult ages" would dominate. I preferred he find out more.
So here are some take-aways from our work to apply to your "going viral" plans:
Point 1 = Look for a Trigger Group to Start your Viral Surge.
- Think in terms of where and who. Note that "everybody" is not the user profile for a service. It seldom is for any service or product.
Point 2 = Why is this Trigger Group eager to use your service/product?
- This needed research for the startup in the above example.
- Is it eagerly used for convenience, entertainment, simplicity, cost reduction, personal efficiency, or?
- In what circumstances are people using it: emergency, bored, alone, with friends, in a vehicle, or?
- We discussed how to do simple phone interviews with first users to learn how they are using the service and what else they want changed and added. About a dozen will give you a lot more information. Jennifer Dulski worked over weekends reading emails from customers and went on to alter her businesses and emerge a big winner (see my last blog, October 18, 2011).
BOTTOM LINE: You go viral with focus. You find a specific profile of people who are eager to use your service/product for a specific reason in a specific situation. Then you pour your efforts into serving them so they are eagerly spreading the word like wildfire. That's how you end up with "the world" using your service/product. The Trigger Group is your "Ideal Customer", that person the serial entrepreneur eagerly seeks to find ASAP. They start the avalanche, the tornado, the yeast that spread throughout the whole dough. It is a skill that leads to great winners. It is part of building an unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!