How I'd launch and scale Dip - long-form monetized Twitter
Mar 11, 2021 1:42 am
Social media is one of the sexiest products to build, but the hardest to nail correctly. In today's issue, a social media idea that just might work...
Each week I help founders & marketers spark their creativity by sharing a new business idea & how I'd launch & market it.
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Now on to this week's product idea: Dip - long-form monetized Twitter.
- YouTube gets more organic traffic than any other website, & is the App Store's most downloaded app, even better when you realize that Google & Apple are arch-enemies. The secret for YouTube's success is that they give creators 2 things for free: discoverability, & ad revenue (more than $30 billion paid to creators in the last 3 years).
- But despite YouTube's success with video, it's yet to be replicated elsewhere. Twitter is just now experimenting with creator monetization, & while they focus on text, their 280 character limit doesn't allow for nuanced discussion & has left a gap for longer-form writing. And while Reddit is better suited for long-form writing, they've ignored monetization.
- Dip will be for people who write, what YouTube is for people who make videos - the best way to share your ideas with the world, & be rewarded for the attention you earn.
How I'd launch:
- It's important to validate ideas before investing a ton of money into them, & Dip, despite not being a simple product, is no exception. To help people visualize Dip, I'd conduct 15-20 interviews with potential creators & consumers and show them a Figma mock-up. Even without a real MVP, there's a lot you can learn from feedback at the idea stage.
- Depending on the interview feedback, I would hire an outsourced development agency to build an MVP. This will be much faster & cheaper than hiring programmers yourself, & while the code is often lower quality, you can always re-rewrite it later, better & more robustly if it works out. Building an MVP is still part of validation, & the key is be as fast & cheap as possible.
- Hopefully you'll have 10-20 creators from your interviews who are willing to publish content on Dip. To attract them before you have a built out network of advertising paying for readers' attention, I'd guarantee each creator $100 per published post, up to 1 a day.
How I'd scale:
- I'd land 3-5 strategic sponsors to provide the first ads on the platform. (Note: this is the self-funded version. If you're raising capital for Dip, I'd keep the platform ad-free for at least several months.) With an audience of creators, thinkers, & writers, the ideal sponsors might be paid newsletters, email marketing platforms, & note-taking tools like Roam & Notion. You really only need a few key partners to start, & can work out performance-based advertising rates.
- To keep creators on the platform, monetization is one piece, but discoverability is another, especially since they don't "own" their audience as they do via email. By paying creators based on impressions, & rewarding impressions for engagement, you incentivize creators to create content that brings people to Dip again & again.
- To keep readers & stand out in a crowded content ecosystem, the experience has to be differentiated & fun. I envision a Twitter-esque feed of both creators you follow & ones you don't, where you swipe left or right on posts you don't like, & scroll down to read more of the ones you do. Posts would be between 50 & 500 words & cover a wide range of topics. By leaving room for nuance & extended discussion, Dip could become the intellectually invigorating experience that Twitter wants to be.
Why it would work:
- No website is as universally well-liked as YouTube, and that's due to, I think, the way they treat & enable creators. It's why kids grow up wanting to be YouTubers & it's what could drive the success of Dip, if you can build a sustainable monetization model.
Why it might not work:
- There are a ton of platform out there for creators & it will be tough to change their habits & convince them why Dip is better. I think there's a place for a YouTube/Twitter hybrid, a longer-form text platform that nails both distribution & monetization, but "nailing it" is the key part. The best option is to pay creators upfront to join, before having a full-fledged advertiser network, but this won't be cheap.
Question for you: Do you recognize how paying or rewarding key partners (employees, creators, etc.) is the key to long-term loyalty?
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