Today, Twitter is a household name. Allowing users to share 140 character updates with their friends and followers, the site has grown and grown to become not only a tool for friendly interaction, but one of conversation and engagement between brands and their audiences.
Similarly, Facebook and LinkedIn have grown to become hubs of social networking for both business and pleasure.
But the idea of social networking is not a new one. In fact, many social networks precede those we know today and many have fallen by the wayside. So why, when they’re all based on the same idea of social networking, have some failed where others have become multi-billion pounds entities?
After much research, I have come to the conclusion that a great idea alone cannot be successful. The key? User experience.
Creating an application for your end user
There have been so many applications of social media websites launched in recent years. Some of them have made a fortune whilst others were rejected from the very beginning. They were all full of new ideas and innovation but still some of them couldn’t make it; what was the reason?
It’s true that, for a great application, obviously you have to come up with something new. Unique abilities of an application will help it stand out from the crowd, whilst creating something worthwhile that no one else offers will make it worthwhile always.
But creating something new and innovative is pointless if it isn’t relevant or valuable for your end user. Before the idea must come the understanding of the audience and their motivations; the idea must then solve a problem or provide something useful to meet those needs.
The reasons Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Linkedin became huge over MySpace, Google Wave, Buzz, Orkut, Hi5 and Bebo are:
- Social integration
- User friendly
- User focus
- Flexibility for developers
I think money always makes a difference; it is backbone of a successful application. Only continuous funding can make an application productive and innovative. Funding is important but using it wisely is key; if you have limited budget, use it properly.
That means fully understanding who the target audience is and spending money creating something genuinely valuable for them. There are a few good examples for that, like Facebook for who didn’t go for regular adwords . Instead, they support the project and used wisely in terms of marketing and development.
Marketing to engage the end user
Another factor for success in this process is how you market your product. This is much important than an idea and money in this climate. People believe what they see. You can ruin your budget and product with bad campaigning.
First of all, you should know about your target audiences and launch the product to appeal to their needs and motivations. Try to make some social network event or party where you can invite influential people and make them believe this is the next big thing, or make use of influential publications in your sector by submitting quality content to them.
Above were the most important tasks you need to do for a product. But timing is the thing which test your patience and belief in the application. No product can make into masses in a a day or even in a month. It becomes established over the period and takes time to get attention. Facebook and Twitter took three to four years of hard work to achieve where these are at now!
Achieving anything is not hard when you work hard. It is maintaining your site or application that can be difficult. All of your work can be wasted if you don’t maintain your site or you stop innovating in your application. I saw many of the websites which have very good basics but they have collapsed as they couldn’t keep up with user’s feedback and changing needs.
Myspace, Orkut, Hi5, Bebo, Google Wave, Buzz and other products went very well in social media but couldn’t stabilise themselves due to lack of innovation and adaptability.
My conclusion after all is this, it is not only an idea that can make you worthy or wealthy, there are some more factors attached to it. Which are equally important as the idea itself! So if you are struggling in your application, you might be missing some of key factors above.
If you really want to have a successful application then you need to put user first. If you keep your application user friendly, simple and have adaptability to add new features, then you ll be in a position to have a successful application.
Here at Zabisco, we are always put user at first. We made quite remarkable work for very big clients which were struggling to get the user’s attention. If you need any kind of help do contact, we are always happy to help!