As I alluded to in my last post, one of our biggest challenges is answering the simple question, “Who is ThinkUp for?” It’s easy to hand-wave and say “Everybody can enjoy ThinkUp!” but we’ve been working long and hard to refine this to an easy answer, to help focus our community on where we’re going first.
So here’s the short version: ThinkUp is for people who actively manage their presence on the Internet.
Let’s break that down, because there are a few very important ideas wrapped up in that short statement:
- ThinkUp is for people: While ThinkUp is very valuable to companies, government institutions, schools, non-profit groups and other organizations, it’s designed for the individual humans who actually use social networks. Whether those humans are part of bigger organizations, or are just independent artists, writers, creators, inventors, entrepreneurs, activists or pontificators, ThinkUp is designed to provide them with useful insights. We call this out because ThinkUp is not designed for a CMO who wants to give Key Performance Indicators to their CEO. We’re delighted that ThinkUp is valuable enough to be used by many enterprises, but it is not merely for enterprise. There are lots of good enterprise social media tools, and ThinkUp is happy to sit in its own space alongside, and separate, from them.
- “Actively manage”: When we say ThinkUp is for people who actively manage their presence on the Internet, what we mean is people who go on social networks because they want to better engage with others, and form better, more meaningful connections to the people on the other side of those networks. Sure, sometimes ThinkUp can help you get more friends or followers, but ThinkUp is not about simply getting more Twitter followers. In fact, most people in ThinkUp’s audience will tend to gain followers or friends over time simply because of the fact they’re doing interesting stuff. So a little line graph going up-and-to-the-right showing that you had more followers than last week isn’t meaningful, and isn’t something you can actively manage. Instead, ThinkUp will focus on giving information and insight that guides you toward actions and activities on social networks and the web that will help you interact better with the people you’re connected to.
In the future, ThinkUp’s got fewer charts like this one, where you shrug your shoulders and say “Huh. Okay.” and more information tailored to exactly what you’re trying to achieve online, powered by the kind of data displayed in this chart. The audience we’re trying to serve should come away from ThinkUp saying “ah, now I know what to do.”
What we’re not
As you might be able to tell, saying who ThinkUp is for is also an exercise in saying who ThinkUp is not for. Initially at least, ThinkUp is more useful for those who have at least some established social network. We do intend for ThinkUp to be a powerful tool regardless of the size of your follower count or friend list, but in the short term those with 100 connections or more across all their social networks are going to get the most value, and those with 1000 or even 10,000 connections will be squarely in the sweet spot for ThinkUp’s insights.
Similarly, ThinkUp will get much easier to use over time — that’s one of our biggest priorities as we launch ThinkUp as a company. But today, ThinkUp requires a bit of technical knowledge to get set up and running. So we see the primary audience in the short term being people with a certain familiarity in running web applications. Fortunately, looking at statistics like the number of people running WordPress.org (not the hosted version of WordPress, but the kind you install separately) shows that there’s well over 25 million people in this category of fairly tech-literate users, and given that we think most of them fall into our target of those who actively manage their web presences, that gives us a good feeling about the first audience we want to serve.
Of course, knowing who we’re building for is just the first step. In our next few posts, we’ll talk about exactly what we’re building for all the people in ThinkUp’s audience, including ourselves.