What are some of the best ways to launch successfully a new platform to ensure a rapid adoption by users?
In the first episode of this series ‘Voyage in the land of platform businesses’, I’ve covered the chicken and egg challenge that many platform owners face when launching a double sided-market platform. Cleverly designed incentives with pull marketing strategies allowed those platforms to solve that issue and gather momentum.
But push strategies, are still very effective when used strategically like Twitter did. The authors of the book Platform Revolution, Sangeet Choudary, Marshall W. Van Alstyne and Geoff Parker, present some proven strategies used to ensure a rapid, scalable and sustainable users’ growth:
1. Big bang adoption
This is one of the boldest strategy, which aims to sign up both sides of the market simultaneously.
Twitter used this strategy to launch at South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in 2007 by buying a large advertising space where attendees of the iconic conference could experience the solution live on screen. This big PR event has worked well for them and resulted in many users’ signups.
2. Single side
A more controlled approach, however, is to create a product that benefits one type of users before opening the second side where the other users will find an existing critical mass.
Opentable served the restaurants first by providing them software for their analytics and opened to the consumers’ side later.
Another approach is to create value unit for one type of users, then attract others who want to interact with them. To achieve that a lot of platforms start with fakes profiles.
In the previous post we’ve seen how PayPal used a bot, an automated software, on Ebay to buy and sell goods to stimulate the demand. Dating services use the same technique by featuring attractive female profiles to incite men to join the platform.
When Quora started, their own editors asked and answered questions, then users started to ask questions and editors answered them. They finally got to the stage where users ask questions and other users answer, making the platform self-sustainable.
This strategy is about connecting with users from other platforms to participate in your platform. You need a compelling value to get them to switch.
Youtube has used the piggyback strategy on Myspace by offering a better technology to the users, allowing them to embed videos on their own website or elsewhere. They incentivise people to upload videos using contests and promoted top content creators to partner status to share ad revenue with them. The creators were stimulated to bring in their communities who in turn became producers and enabled a rapid spread.
Airbnb also piggybacked on Craiglist and take the users with them.
5. Follow the rabbit
Here, the trick is not about using an existing platform but instead leverage on a non-platform asset already owned and open it to others to use it.
This is what Amazon did when they launched their marketplace, offering others merchants the same solution they have been using themselves to run their book business, Amazon marketplace was born.
Intel technology lab opened their Wifi technology to external partners to use it in their own solutions.
Start with a small closed market where members are already engaging in interactions and leverage those interactions. Starting small enables you to match effectively and test quickly. A small scale but dense and highly interactive community works better than a widely dispersed users base which be too large to reach quickly.
Facebook started with the Harvard university network students first and extended to other universities and finally opened it to the outside world to reach a critical mass.
Sign up a powerful player that brings in its network on your platform.
Game console hardware often partner with software providers to build new apps for their hardware to be released at the same time. Microsoft use this approach for the launch of Xbox.
To convert offline customers and encourage them to switch from physical mail to electronic messaging, Swiss Post gave away iPads to households in remote neighbourhoods. They reduced their resources to reach those remote places and became the largest retailer of Apple’s products.
A mix of these strategies can often be used to achieve the best results depending on the platform and the market.
Do you know other effective strategies to launch a platform? I would love to hear from you. Comment below and share the post with your friends.
In the next episode, I will cover what makes some platforms viral and shareable whilst others struggle to get any traction.
Are you looking to better understand and master the #NewEconomy rules for business growth and become a digital leader? Check out my availabilities for a confidential strategy session today.
About Francine Beleyi
Francine Beleyi is bilingual French-English, international digital and change consultant, entrepreneurial journalist & speaker who helps corporate executives, entrepreneurs and organisations, to adapt and thrive in the digital age.
Francine spends her days speaking with and studying the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the new economy, and sharing her findings with her clients and those who want to understand and master the new rules for business growth.
She has worked across EMEA, for major corporations like TOTAL, BNPPARIBAS, AXA and also for not for profit organisations and small businesses. She holds a Master’s degree in organisation consulting and change management, a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, a degree in computer science and an NCTJ diploma in multimedia journalism.
About Francine Beleyi
Francine Beleyi is a digital strategist, change consultant and entrepreneurial journalist who helps businesses thrive in the digital age. who helps businesses thrive in the digital age. She spends her days speaking with and studying the most successful entrepreneurs in the new economy, and sharing her findings with those who are open to new ideas and want to increase their results. Follow her on Twitter @FrancineBeleyi.
photo: freedigitalphotos.net/ Stuart Miles