Yesterday we saw the acquisition of Instagram for $1B or did we? What did Facebook really buy? A photo sharing application? Hardly. Facebook did not buy Instagram. What Facebook bought was far more valuable. They bought engagement through human connection and emotion. Every time we (you & me) take a picture with Instagram, there is an emotional connection that occurs. We are instantly curious. Our minds can often take us into the picture where we start imagining our own world, our own story.
Have you ever been on Facebook and started to randomly look at pictures of friends of friends? Practically strangers, yet so fascinating. Is it because we are nosy? Well, maybe. But I think something bigger is at play. As human beings, we have many forms of communication. The most powerful being the visual. At the end of the day, the way we interpret an image or a picture depends on our frame of reference. How we see the world is how our brain interprets or sees images. We see our stories, we see ourselves. That is the power images hold. We tell ourselves our own story better than anybody else could. People look at pictures of other people and see themselves. Think about how powerful that is.
The product went viral, not because it was the first picture-sharing app. It went viral because those who took pictures where sharing themselves. It went viral because those who looked at those pictures where seeing themselves in those images. Often, when we create products we forget how powerful the human connection really is. We forget that what goes viral is not products but ideas. Memes are simply ideas that spread. Seth Godin’s “Unleashing the ideavirus” is a great book that details how ideas spread. How do we spread ideas? The answer is by telling stories. Ultimately, the best stories, the ones that are going to have the biggest influence on us are the ones that we tell ourselves. The products that are engaging are those that allow the user to take ownership and tell their story.
Think about how you are engaging people with your product. Are you dictating the experience they should have or are you letting them create their own experience? How dynamic is your product? Are you actively building a community and having a conversation with people? Those are all important aspects that can bring a product to life and make it go “viral”. Complicated features don’t go viral. The things that go viral are stories and passion. Are you building with passion?
Tell us your story! Stay connected, stay in the conversation. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter @npersona and facebook _npersona