Is there any website owner out there who hasn’t dreamed of launching “the next big online thing” when they were picking out their domain name? In no other industry can the investment of a few bucks to a registrar followed by a handful of lines of code potentially lead to a multi-million dollar enterprise within a few years. However, the distinction between the infinitesimal percentage of new websites that actually achieve stratospheric levels of success and the vast majority of sites that are as well-frequented as a beach bar in Nunavut, is indefinite to say the least. Are there really keys to success in the website world, or is it all just plain dumb luck?
The founders of Reddit recently outlined how they turned an advertising budget of $500 into a site that receives nearly three billion page views per month, and their outline for internet domination forms a pattern that might be duplicated… perhaps by you?
Reddit’s Enthusiasts Soon Approached Harley-Level Fanaticism
Reddit’s founders decided to apply their “huge” initial advertising budget to buying $500 worth of stickers, and then proceeded to paste them up anywhere and everywhere. According to them, the promotional value of the sticker itself is negligible but they served only as a way for people to show their allegiance and attachment to their brand. Soon Reddit fans started posting photos of themselves stickering up the most unlikely places, and the avalanche had begun. The critical mass aspect of promoting Reddit soon approached Harley-Davidson fanaticism levels with enthusiasts tattooing the site’s alien logo onto their torsos. If you can trigger a loyalty to a brand that is so powerful that your customers want to permanently adorn their skin with it, you know that you have a winner on your hands.
Create a Framework, Facilitate Communities, but Stay Hands-Off
Reddit incorporated a laissez-faire approach to content that empowered its users to make the site anything that they wanted. By simply providing a framework for site visitors to post and discuss whatever interested them, and then facilitating the building of special interest communities such as programmers and gamers, Reddit found that the secret to success was not in taking the stance of a leader but a facilitator. The way the founders described it, they saw their role as party hosts ensuring that everyone was having a good time, keeping out undesirable guests, and keeping one and all engaged and conversing.
1% of the Users Can Generate Content to Attract the Other 99%
The Reddit site is a working example of The Pareto Principle, where the great majority of the traffic and content is generated by a tiny minority of the user base. This minority, which in the case of Reddit could be as low as 1%, is thoroughly engaged in creating the content that attracts the other 99%. These users are not paid staff members, freelancers or in any other way benefiting financially from their efforts. They are doing it for the appreciation and affection that they have for their community, and thus provide the site with a level of unique, interesting and alluring content that the Reddit owners could not possibly buy.
The First 100 Users Will Make or Break Your Site
The founders focused on treating their very first users with extreme sensitivity, consideration and care, since as they stated: “these first hundred will make or break your product.” The pioneers into a new online community become a large part of driving its future success, and they deserve the attention of family, since that is exactly what they may become in the upcoming years. When a nascent website receives feedback from its initial users, that missive is worthy of immediate and comprehensive reply, and their input should be implemented to the best of your ability. It is this responsiveness that can turn a casual visitor into a power user who will become a content-generating cornerstone of the entire site.
In the social media era, site owners are essentially promoting users to other users. Pattern your own online presences along these lines and you too may reach Reddit-status!
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