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entrepreneurship How To's

Socio-psychological factors for viral engagement

Human beings are instinctively social creatures. Social media apps, largely since Facebook, have categorically tapped into some basic elements of social interaction, and brought it into cyberspace; and it is for this reason that they’re some of the largest and most influential companies in the world – and hence also some of the most ubiquitous, publicised, and scrutinised.

Social media, in general, lays its groundwork on some basic socio-psychological phenomena, which we should certainly keep in mind if we wish to create the next big thing in this space;

Acceptance, and sense of belonging

For the most part, people are largely driven by their need to belong. Our need for social acceptance is very high, and it manifests in various ways, eg.

  • We are much more likely to buy items, visit places, or meet people, that existing people around us find generally desirable (like Apple products due to their high brand value, visiting exotic but well-known locations like Paris and Venice, or bragging about meeting influential people).
  • We are always elated when we receive social attention, admiration, or acclaim. In fact, most of the larger strategic goals/ambitions in everyone’s lives are largely based on factors that are considered socially acceptable in the person’s immediate community (eg. Doctors, Engineers.)
  • We tend to gravitate towards communities that we wish to be a part of; we like to be associated with (or assumed to be in) certain groups that reflect aspirations of our own; we want to be seen with wealthy, influential, desirable individuals. Conversely, we often do not want to be associated with communities and groups that do not reflect our own values.

Social media largely capitalised on our need for social acceptance by offering us ways to be a part of, and exposed to, communities that we find desirable. We can easily follow / befriend people from the avenues of life that we aspire to be around (eg. photographers, musicians, fashion bloggers, movie stars etc.) Most social media platforms involve creating and maintaining groups and communities based on common interests, and merely being a part of such groups gives users satisfaction (and bragging rights). Even platforms that aren’t primarily social (eg. Medium, Dribbble, Stack Overflow, some online video-game communities) often end up having strong and closed communities driven by people’s need to contribute and be associated to what these larger communities represent (design, tech, gaming culture etc.)

Vanity

Human beings all wish to be desired, envied, and generally fawned over. For much of human history however, this came at a very high price. We had to carefully construct our personalities to emphasise aspects that people found desirable, and downplay parts that were considered unappealing; we had to maintain rigid physical health, posture, grace, and pay attention to our looks at all times; we also had to carefully control our mannerisms at all times.

Furthermore, in order to be desired by the community, we frequently had to move out of our comforts and stay exposed to people all the time by ensuring physical presence in all places we wanted to be seen in. Lastly, in spite of all our efforts, no one could be certain about how revered he was in a community.

Over the past decade however, social media has moved in and made vanity far more quantifiable, approachable, and accessible. By reducing “appeal” and “fame” to “likes” and “followers”, social media has handed human beings a metric by which to measure their success in this arena; the higher this number, the higher your desirability. Social media makes it easy to control people’s perceptions of ourselves, as we control the timing, nature, and quality of content they’re exposed to.

It is extremely easy for us to highlight moments of our life where we are happiest, and broadcast them to everyone, while completely ignoring the banal, trivial, or disappointing aspects of our lives, and hiding them completely from the public eye. Social media also grants people an indirect way to communicate with those who envy (possibly hate) them, and demonstrate our apathy to them as well as emphasise on how we’re better off after (or in spite of) them – something that would be too aggressive and targeted if spoken out directly.

Contribution and mentorship

While human beings usually aren’t closed to learning new things, almost every human being is exceptionally enthusiastic about teaching and sharing. We crave for opportunities to demonstrate our own learnings, and share our own experiences, sometimes regardless of whether there is any benefit to any party by doing so. We like the thought of being people who are actively pushing a community forward, and most social media platforms are using this tendency of ours to some extent.

Apps like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp give us mediums with which we can share our opinions and experiences with the world – in fact, these platforms actively encourage us to do so (“What’s on your mind?”, “Share to Facebook this great article that you just read”, or “Here’s a recap/collage of your experiences with x entity”). Apps like Quora, Reddit, and Medium give us platforms with which we can answer people’s questions, publish/share content, and generally gather approval and feedback from people at large. Apps like Dribbble, StackOverflow, 500px etc. are also avenues through which we contribute to, and are a part of, communities that are desirable to us, and are often used as a measure of your status in those respective fields.

Categories
entrepreneurship How To's Productivity

Being successful

A very noble thought has come to a mind today – lets be successful. The only problem is the mind does not know what is being successful. Lets drill down to what is being successful.

Being successful really means doing things which you really want to do and more importantly not doing things which you don’t want to do. It is very much linked to being happy for success overall is achievement of happiness only. Note that much emphasis should be given on not doing things which you don’t want to do. Doing things for most is an infinite ongoing list.

Its very common to associate money with being successful. I am not denying it is not, the only role of money is “money buys you resources which can be bought and which you can not do” as well as “buy resources and time which you want to do“. That explain the role of money.

Now the most important factor apart from role of money is when money does not play a part in success. e.g., you want to be fit, control an addiction,  wake up early etc. In fact surprisingly, most of the time money actually becomes your enemy in becoming successfully.

So now when we know what being successful is, lets try being one.

What is your list of things you want to do and more importantly things you don’t want to do.

Categories
entrepreneurship How To's startups

Art of naming your users in ideation process

[Published on nextbigwhat.com here http://www.nextbigwhat.com/user-persona-ideation-and-product-attributes-297 ]

In the initial days after I passed out from IIT, used to have dozens of business plans everyday, and was already working on few of them in a given month. Later I realised those were not business plans but cool ideas, thats all. After I was done coding, I was hardly able to find users of my app except myself for couple of days. End result is a failed startup – failure will come very soon and is much assured to come. Series of startups, at one time also made me think I should start a consulting outsourcing businesses. Happens.

Then came a little matured stage when idea of solving problems was the key. This was a stage when I was actively looking to find problems in ecosystems and came up with solutions rather discussing with people who are facing problems. End result is a failed startup. You try to articulate reasons for failure but the reason is it was not built for anyone. Your product was a solution to a problem but a solution which was not desirable. Its an assured failed startup too. Know before you fail what you missed in your product.

Then came an interesting stage. Stage where I knew I came up with ideas which are also solutions to some problems, problems not that big but interesting to have solutions of. Identifying problems for which people were not actively looking for solutions but were surprised and excited to find solutions. There were users. I could name those users when I am coding. I had that amazing feeling while working and much more reasons to work now. But the competitors were growing fast, my product lacked somewhere. Problem was solved, but there were too many solutions already. I created and showed people the problem, and was outrun before I could even imagine this would happen. Obviously I lacked somewhere. The answer was sales. Interestingly it was always sales. Even the user requirements gathering, design elements, product delivery, money collection, user on boarding, user retention, competition watch – everything is part of sales. Naming a user and selling to that named users are two different things. But with a good procedure followed to name your users, idea evolution to product is a stronger process for your startup.

Categories
How To's

How to use laptop – good posture practices

I have been developing a back pain lately. Two days vacation at Wayanad with absolutely zero back pain made me realize it was bad working posture. I work on a laptop which adds up to the problem since there are absolutely no zero stress working positions using laptop. Really liked two videos in this context.