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Alex Zhu :: Josh Elman

3:40 If you want to build a user-generated content platform, the content has to be extremely light — both content creation and content consumption need to happen within seconds, not minutes.

4:10 Education is a little against human nature. People spend their phone time communicating and entertaining themselves.

4:36 It's better to go with human nature when building products, not against.

4:55 For a new social platform to take off, your early adopters need to be young. Especially teenage girls in U.S. Young people have tons of free time and tons of creativity. They are digitally native, especially with video. They can talk with each other at school to spread your product.

5:45 Musically had spent $0 on user aquisition at that time :o

6:10 Launch Musically with "a lot of hacks" — App Store app name could be very long and App Store search algorithm weighted names heavily, so they made their app name include all key words.

7:00 Focus on utility at first (as did Instagram). Once you have enough users, build for community. Come for the utility, stay for the community.

7:52 "We have to stay really close to our users — participatory design." Talk to 100's of users on WeChat. They have daily conversations. Not only about product, but to understand what they think and what they like in pop culture and otherwise. "Be immersed into the American teen culture."

10:30 Building/running a community is very similar to building/running a country (economy).

Analogy: discovering new land (America - Musically). You must convince people from other lands (Europe - Instagram) to move to your land. So what do you do?

Take advantage of the already-stabilized social class in Europe. You must give people the chance to increase their social class. Build a "centralized economy" in the early days. Concentrate the wealth in a small percentage of people in your land and let them be the role-models for people in the other land.

Importantly, you have to decentralize the economy at the same time. Give opportunity to average people.

16:44 Josh Elman states, in 2016, that over $1 Billion are spent on virtual gifts in China per-year

17:15 Alex Zhu says being an advertising platform is a great business — as long as its catered to the user's preferences [sic].

17:45 One of the key powers of [now Tik Tok] is the power and influence held over culture.

20:00 Music on [Tik Tok] is a raw material, not the end product. Therefore, [Tik Tok] is a complementary good to Spotify, Pandora, record labels, etc.

If you want to build a new social network, content has to be extremely light. Both content creation and consumption have to be within seconds rather than minutes or hours.

  • Education is something a little against human nature. Looking at how people use phones while on the go, most people use phones to communicate and to entertain. It isn't a learning device. It's better to follow human nature than to go against human nature.
  • It's better to have young people as early adopters. Especially teenagers in US. Why? They have a lot of time. They are proficient in video-making and editing.
  • Before you have critical mass of users, you have to focus on utility. Take product building step by step; know your product will evolve. The first users of Instagram didn't come for the feed or for the likes — they came for amazing and simple filters and posted those photos on other forms of social media.
  • Once you have enough users, you start building community around utility.
  • Participatory design is critical. Involve the end-user in the design process from the very beginning. "We have 100's of users on WeChat — we have daily conversations with them about the product and ideas but also just to talk. We're immersed into the American teen culture." "We share wireframes, mockups, etc with these teens before we do any coding. That's the key."
  • Building a community is very similar to running a country (an economy). There are a lot of economic policies you can learn to run a community. In the early stage, building a community from scratch is like discovering new land.
    • Your new community = America.
    • Instagram, Facebook, YouTube = Europe.
      • The problem with Europe is the social heirarchy and classes are already developed. There is almost zero opportunity to go up in the social class.
    • In the beginning, you have to build a centralized economy. You make sure majority of the "wealth" is distributed to a small percentage of the people. This makes people in Europe say "hey this normal guy just went over there and became super rich.. I can do the same!"
    • Very importantly, you have to do decentralization at the same time. Because people will quickly realize the dream is just a dream unless you democratize it (?).
  • Most innovations in China are not around technology, They're around service and commercial. Examples:
    • WeChat is successful in payment integrations. How they make sure they list their bank accounts on WeChat is very interesting: an online game to make sure in Spring Festival people send money in the red envelope to friends. Socializing a game to hold people accountable.
    • Live streaming:
  • "Ads business is a great business" - its scalable, you don't have to do human sales, it doesn't hurt the user.
  • "One of the key powers of musically is the power of influence."
  • When [creators] go for a social media platform, the first thing they're looking for a fame. But fame doesn't last — they want revenue. If you can give them revenue, they will stick around.
  • Musically's product doesn't compete with music labels and publishers (or spotify). People still stream, still buy, still go to concerts. It only changes the distribution model for them.