There’s a lot of drama around Linda launching her own “social network” yesterday. First of all, let’s be 100% clear – this isn’t an addition to Linda Ikeji’s blog.
This is the new Linda Ikeij’s blog and here are a few thoughts:
1. Linda understands her market better than most give her credit for
That anecdote (true or not) about competing with Facebook cut to the chase very quickly. In any gathering of “media experts” and “tech gurus”, there is a lot of talk of competing websites – Linda vs Bella, Pulse vs Naij etc.
Content sites are not competing against other content sites – they’re competing for attention. And in that anecdote, Linda showed that she understood that the attention of her audience was being taken away by Facebook.
2. This product can’t fail; but it’s not clear it will succeed
Unlike most social products, Linda Ikeji Social didn’t start from scratch. It already has a batch of ready users – Linda Ikeji commenters – and it already has content from Linda Ikeji’s blog.
That means that, even if all this ends up being is an extended comment section for Linda Ikeji’s blog – it doesn’t fail. It’ll always be populated with content – from the blog, and it’ll always have activity.
It’s not the “proper site” that “tech gurus” have been asking for – it’s more. However, it’s not clear that this will be a roaring success. There are a number of pitfalls that the project faces; but even if they all manage to hobble this project, there’s no way this goes the way of the dodo.
3. Technology & product management will be interesting
Linda, for the first time since starting in the media business, is not using the best technology team or infrastructure in the world.
She’s substituted Google’s Blogger team – who handled security, load balancing and updates on her behalf – for a local developer who picked up the source code from Github.
The difference is already apparent.
Users were stuck outside waiting for their confirmation emails for almost half an hour. Some users couldn’t even log in for hours due to, it seems, load. Response times for the social site are much slower than her blog. She will have to find support to fix this and scale the product. She’s also going to find out that, at her size, hosting ain’t free.
4. Bye-bye anonymity
Linda Ikeij’s comments are extremely entertaining – partially because the writers are anonymous (or pseudonymous). Creating a social network forces them to create profiles and cultivate followers – which in turn, might force them to reveal their identities.
This might mean a different type of interaction – which might be good for the product in the long run. Time will tell.
5. You either pay the users or…
Everyone’s making a big deal about paying users for submitting original content. I’m not sure how this will work out in the long run – there’s a ton of incentives to simply “make up” stuff, and it’s not as if Linda’s team has been the bastion of fact-checking.
But I am interested in the idea of using giveaways to drive usage. There’s a saying, “you either pay advertisers or you pay the users”. It’s obvious who Linda has decided to pay.
6. This feels a lot like China
The thing I love most about the internet in China is how the UI and product choices are so different from anywhere in the world, it’s completely insane.
WeChat is probably the best example of this – one product that has so many products inside it, it feels so confusing. And yet it works. That was the thinking between bringing Snapchat’s “story” format into Instagram. It was supposed to be “too much” and yet it works.
That’s how I feel about the e-commerce bit tagged on to a social network tagged on to a social site. It feels a lot like China.
This might be how Linda Ikeji’s users might get to use e-commerce. Who know? I don’t know.
In fact, it’s safe to say that we don’t know how this product will end up because we don’t know anything. We don’t know if Linda will be able to solve her tech products. We don’t know for sure that people will use it as more than an advanced commenting system for Linda Ikeji’s blog.
All I do know for sure is that it’ll be very difficult for this to fail.