I‘ve written three different introductions for this article, and none of them have stuck. I think I’m just too excited to summarize my learnings and findings over the last few weeks that regardless of the introduction, you came here for the meat and potatoes of this article. Maybe one day I’ll write an adequate introduction.
After two years at Plus11, and countless hours put in towards making our product, Platform, a more versatile and feature rich app, I’ve come to two conclusions. The first conclusion came after one major epiphany, which was this: Chasing the social media trend is a race we will lose over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times in our short company history, we had a great idea, put it on our road map, only to get beaten to the punch by Instagram or Facebook. Then when we do finally implement said feature, we are late to the game, left to keeping up with the ‘big dogs’.
Ceteris Paribus (with all conditions remaining the same), we will always be late to the party when we are trying to keep up with Facebook and their billions of dollars and resources. The same can be said trying to keep up with Twitter, Snapchat, Uber, or any of the other ‘big dogs’.
Since I was a young child, I hated board games, card games, or any sport in which I knew I had greater odds of losing over winning. This personality quirk still defines the things I get involved with today. Why play a game I know I’ve got a stronger chance of losing over winning? In order to win, Plus11 has refocused its goals, and aimed at a clearer target.
Our Platform product is not the next social media trend.
Platform is the tool in which communities are facilitated.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote his paper on “A Theory of Human Motivation.” In this paper, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory is expounded upon. I won’t dive too far into the theory, but instead, I’ll stay on point as to how it applies to Platform. After humans have their physiological needs taken care of, they then search to have physical safety needs met. It is safe to say that as a majority, here in the states, we’ve got these two foundational needs checked off our list.
Next on the Hierarchy of Needs comes the search for love and belonging. This is pivotal in establishing a baseline for how communities are formed. People will naturally search out other like-minded people. We see this in our everyday lives. Although your Facebook account might say you have thousands of friends, who do you really associate with on a weekly basis? As we mature out of adolescence and into adulthood, our circle of friends grows smaller and tighter. The people who remain close are the friends we will associate on an active basis, and psychology will prove that those you associate with share a common thread.
“People will naturally search out other like-minded people”
Imagine you move away from home and into a new city with no nearby friends or acquaintances. It’s a tough scenario for many. What do you do after work? Where do you go? Who do you see? It’s instinctive to search out those social groups where you feel you might fit in. You might go looking for local meet-ups, or get involved in a community athletic team. If you were unable to find people of like-mindedness, and find a place where you belong, you might consider heading back to a place you feel more comfortable. The idea of being able to go on long term without any social connection in this scenario is impracticable. We all know what happens when we are left alone in isolation for too long…
People need a sense of belonging in their social groups, regardless of size, to validate their desire for love and affection.
Our Guiding Compass
These social groups could be things like clubs, sports teams, religious groups, co-workers, etc. This is the spark that ignites the growth of a community. People come together bonded through their passion. In these communities, people get together, hang out, swap stories, and belong. Communities go beyond what we can provide in an app. Communities take place outside of the screen world and happen face to face. Understanding this principle helps guide the future of Platform.
We are not racing against Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram to release the next coolest feature. We are creating apps that allow communities to form, interact, and connect. People will always need social groups, and people will always search for like-minded communities. If our app facilitates this process, we win. Talk about job security!