Registration for SXSW 2013 opened earlier this month, sending thousands scurrying to reserve their badges and lodging for the annual interactive bonanza. In thinking about my SXSW experience this year, one quote comes to mind:
“Who is the next Twitter? The reality is, we can’t have a Twitter every year. If we did, we’d all perish in spontaneous combustion” – Bruce Sterling
Well said, Mr. Sterling. I couldn’t agree more. If you are like me, you love technology, but you simply don’t have a ton of room for ‘new’. We are constantly bombarded with new apps, platforms, technologies every day that promise to deliver the next Facebook, or the next Instagram, or the next Twitter. Why? Do we need more of this?
The great news for entrepreneurs and business owners alike is that with this technology overload, comes great opportunity. Instead of thinking about what is the next big thing, let’s talk about how we can make our current platforms better. Let’s talk about how the market has never been more ripe for smart product innovation. Let’s talk about what our favorite apps and social networks are doing, or not doing to keep us happy. How can we make our customers’ experience more valuable? Let’s focus not on how to be the new, but instead how to be the better version.
As a technology enthusiast, think about the last app or social network you downloaded or registered with. How long has it been since you last opened it, or it saw any kind of play on your smartphone, tablet, laptop? How long has it been since you perused the app store?
Now think about the apps and networks that you use every day. How long has it been since you were excited about a recent update, or new functionality that actually provided a better experience? You know, the kind of update where you actually show your friends and colleagues to ensure they have updated as well? Exactly. It’s probably been a while, or at the very least I’m betting you can only name a select few that you were recently jazzed about.
Are you listening?
A recent update from Foursquare stripped us of a highly valued feature that many say is the essence of Foursquare. This was a major update from the location-based powerhouse and while some were ecstatic, many couldn’t move beyond the one missing feature of being able to see who of your Foursquare friends is nearby. What was Foursquare’s response? They gave it back. They listened, and acted, and are now stronger.
Like Foursquare, some companies keep their ears and eyes on the pulse of their user experience, while others seem to ignore it. Facebook’s mobile app is a shining example, being touted as the most popular app that everyone uses, and hates. And it’s not that they don’t continually update and make changes. It’s that they can’t seem to get it right. Let’s hope the next round of updates will give us what we’ve been asking for.
As a business owner, this is your opportunity to grab hold of your user base, listen hard and long at what they need and their experiences. Reach out, encourage user participation and make it your guide in product innovation. Make the changes that will add value, to them.
photo credit: Cassondra Schindler