What Zuckerberg Won’t Tell You: 10 Lessons Learned in Creating a Social Network
By Elaine Werffeli Founder of GemsOfInsight.com
In putting together a website where users come to discover, share and contribute Gems of Insight, I learned a number of lessons and wanted to pass on my Top 10 for PR, marketing, social media pros and businesses in general. These insights go beyond creating a social network and apply to all of your work, in general:
10. Think Big: When starting something new, think out of the box. Don’t listen to the voice inside your head that tells you why you can’t do things. Brainstorm a list of all the options before deciding to take anything off the list. Don’t think practical at this stage, instead focus on concepts that are new, different and a little out there…Because out there may become the new “it”.
9. Don’t be limited to what you currently know how to do. More than likely you will not know how to execute all phases of your idea. In fact, that is pretty much a guarantee. Your new idea is probably going to lead you on a voyage of discovery..shh..That is the secret no one will tell you. That they didn’t know it all when they first started out, that they didn’t have everything buttoned up when they started. But in addition to creating something out of nothing, one of the most amazing things is how much you will learn by jumping headfirst in the deep end of the pool. It is rewarding at every step and you learn as you climb your new knowledge curve. Why wait?
8. Utilize Experts. You are not expected to know all aspects of your future business. In my case, even though I had the vision and many years of marketing experience, I did not know how to create wire frames and program a website. I was foreign to the land of legal. I also realized I needed help around the specifics around Public Relations and getting the word out. There is a reason there are experts. They have an area of specialty and will help you to balance out your blind spots. It behooves you to use them.
7. Define your Target. It seems fundamental but it is important to identify who your site is for and who it is not for. Is it a certain demographic? Can they be defined by behaviors? Attitudes? Maybe a combination of these? What are the important characteristics of your primary users? Personas can help capture the essence of your target and brings it to life.
6. Focus on User Scenarios. Once you determine your target audience, explore how they would use the site. How do they like to communicate, where is their homebase on the web, what is interesting to them and the motivations around why they do what they do?
5. Differentiate Yourself. Define your product’s positioning.What makes your product special? Unique? It is necessary to do your homework on the competitive options so you know, can articulate and repeat why your product is different.
4. Create an emotional connection. It is important to answer these questions: “What is the reason users will engage with you? Why should they return? What are the benefits to the users and can they be elevated to a higher state?” If you can create an emotional connection, there is a stronger attraction…a special staying power. Bond with your users.
3. Virality. How do you get new users? You need your current users to spread the word about your site and share with their friends and colleagues. Enabling this in your site is a must. Creating sharable marketing materials is also key. Word of mouth can help you start the viral flywheel…so give them something to talk about.
2. Listen. Everyone will have an opinion about what you should do. Your colleagues, the experts and your users will all freely share their opinion. You need to set up feedback mechanisms to make sure you capture this feedback. Be open to listening to their feedback. Remember you don’t have to incorporate all that you receive, but many points of view are usually better than one.
1. Embrace Change. Realize that you have not created something static. The feedback you have received will help improve your product. Change is not always easy but it is a necessary part of staying current. If your mindset is that you are on a journey of always improving, one of continuous innovation, then you are simply moving forward instead of standing still.
Elaine Werffeli is the founder of Gems of Insight the first and only content sharing platform for inspirational quotes, where anyone can discover, contribute and share insights called ‘gems’ without signing up. She is also a Director of Marketing Sciences at Microsoft Corporation, where she utilize data analytics and insight generation to answer key business questions for Online Services Division in order impact business strategy.