Consumer internet – early adopters, critical mass and offline activity

I have written a lot about getting consumer internet services to critical mass – here with lessons from Betfair on the value of identifying early adopters, here on the “del.icio.us lesson” that personal value must precede network value, here on the importance of distribution, here on the importance of offline interaction, and here on thinking of communities as emergent systems.

Stimulated by Nisan’s comment on the Betfair post yesterday where he proposed a guide for launching a consumer internet service I thought I would try and pull all my thoughts together.

The following is a bit of a wish list of indicators that a consumer internet service will get to scale:

  • Clearly identified group of early adopters/power users with well understood benefits from the service – at a personal and social level
  • A marketing plan targeted at the early adopters, probably including a significant offline component
  • An understanding of the ‘essence’ of the service and how to grow it – this is really how the service will operate as an emergent system – liquidity, status, buzz or UGC are common forms of ‘essence’ in consumer internet services
  • A clearly thought out distribution plan, probably leveraging partners
  • Features of the service which promote offline interaction between members