In this excerpt from the book No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, Kevin Systorm explains to Ashton Kutcher why Instagram blew up. It was not because of network effects. There were no network effects on day 1. It was not because of celebrity users. It was not because they rode on Twitter and Facebook graph of users. All of these happened later. Like most B2C products, it started as a single player use case: How to make your photos more beautiful, and shareable.
The only time I ever used Instagram, and it was years back, was to add a filter to a mirror selfie. I did not even end up sharing the photo on Instagram. I shared it on Facebook instead.
I have been thinking about the concept of superpowers a lot. Brian Norgard keeps talking about giving your users superpowers. The ability to super like a person on Tinder is a superpower. And Norgard’s advice is to monetize by charging for these super powers, which is what Tinder did. But I think the superpower concept can be extended even further. Instead of a normal feature vs monetizable superpower feature, think of how you can give ordinary users super powers though your product.
A few examples
- Instagram let users create shareable photos
- Grammarly is for all of us, who are not confident about our writing/grammar
- Dropbox lets you work on the cloud, without you being married to a particular device
- Tinder lets you match with people with a single swipe
The best consumer products:
- dramatically cut friction
- why carry a pen drive, when your files are on Dropbox
- why download multiple episodes of a TV series on your laptop, add subtitles when you can watch it on Netflix
- haggling with a driver on the road vs pressing a button and calling Uber
- make you seem better than you are
- an Instagrammable photo
- a mail sent without grammatical errors
- do the heavy lifting for you
- why spend hours in a bar getting rejected, when you can swipe on Tinder, and go on a date next day
- spending hours doing your tax returns vs uploading it on Cleartax
The client which the fastest email experience literally calls itself Superhuman.
What superpower are you giving to your users?