What about the iPad?
Or how about Posterous?
All of these things have at one time been labeled overrated. For example, I think foursquare is a complete waste of time. Why the heck would I want to tell the world where I am! I mean that’s really nobody’s business! It’s not like Twitter where I actually have meaningful dialogue. I find value in Twitter for numerous reasons. I can’t imagine finding that same value with foursquare.
But, that’s just me.
Everything I mentioned above could make me miss out on new opportunities. My own subjectivity is getting in the way of learning new networks and how to exploit them for my clients and myself. This dangerous attitude isn’t unique to just myself. Many folks in the tech space, that don’t find value in new things, are quick to label them “pointless”. The truth is they are right. At least for themselves that is.
You see every user uses a device or service in a different way, for different things. Many times what we find useless and unproductive, actually can provide good value to some. So then the question becomes when should we put stock in ideas and products that we aren’t personally invested in? I mean there’s no way I have time to test out every new thing on the market!
Most successful projects have two characteristics that are worth a look at. Successful projects provide real value to its core user base, and they make money.
Providing real value to your core user base is important. Without real value then, yes, your project might be a waste of time. How do you know you are providing real value? Well, first make sure you are asking and talking to the right people. For example you wouldn’t ask me if I find value in FriendFeed because the day after I first signed up for it, I left and never came back. I am not a FriendFeed core user. Just because some users haven’t found value in a project doesn’t mean that value isn’t there.
This sounds incredibility obvious to most in the real world, but if you were to say this around a group of venture capital addicts they might not let you have anymore free granola. But, the truth is, a project isn’t successful if it isn’t making a profit. This is an important point to understand as a marketer because there is absolutely no point in investing research and your client’s money into services that eventually fail. If a service or product isn’t providing real value to its core users or making any money, then you won’t either by using it.
So the next time that new social media toy hits the scene, take off the cynic hat and give it a try. Otherwise you might miss out on something that your audience would love.