Marketing a great website before it's copied
February 8, 2009 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Recently I've thought of a great idea for a website which I'm planning on developing soon. I believe the site has the potential of something like YouTube or Facebook. Due to my paranoia and low budget, I've decided to develop the site myself. I believe no one has the capacity or resources to copy the site for at least a fortnight. Due to the low budget Im having to resort to spreading the word over the net. Unfortunetly I cannot reveal what the site is about :( I was just wondering if anyone knows of any descent sites or forums that are pretty general, where I could post my idea? so i can reach as many people as possible within a fortnight. P.S. Please don't say Youtube or Facebook... lol
posted by jakubsnm to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
slashdot, boingboing, metafilter
posted by rikschell at 12:46 PM on February 8, 2009

rikschell refers to Metafilter Projects, of course. Posting this project to the front page would violate the self-linking policy and be promptly deleted.

This idea isn't by any chance a sort of rideshare-specific craigslist/couchsurfing mashup, is it? Because I had that idea last night, but I was pretty confident that somebody had already tried it.
posted by box at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2009

Well, Digg, Reddit, and the like, but it had better be a good idea if you use those. MeFi's snark is nice compared to the comments left about half put-together ideas people post.
posted by niles at 12:55 PM on February 8, 2009

Projects, here at Metafilter, is pretty much for this sort of thing.

I hope you don't want us to mention YouTube or Facebook because you're already using them. Be stupid to not use them if getting word out on the internet is your goal.

If you believe you have some sort of unique idea and you want to maintain a proprietary claim to it, you should be talking to lawyers about protecting yourself and investors about building your idea before you start worrying about advertising it.

And make a plan for scaling your service - youtube and facebook may have been started by people without many resources, but it took a lot of resources to make them viably usuable on the scale they reached. If you launch something and crumble under the weight of your audience, potential competitors with resources could take the lead... maybe even in less than a fortnight.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:57 PM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, if you really have the next YouTube or Facebook on your hands, I want in. Mefi-mail me when you need investors.
posted by chudmonkey at 12:59 PM on February 8, 2009

Hmmm, reddit, digg, stumbleupon, delicious. But it will only gain prominence there (and then drive huge amounts of traffic) if enough users like your idea. Also, MeMail me when it's ready, I'm interested in checking it out!
posted by losvedir at 1:00 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: I've google for the idea and found nothing like it. I would say 1 in 10 people would use the site or would know of someone who would...
posted by jakubsnm at 1:02 PM on February 8, 2009

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is what gets you rich. Your idea is not that brilliant. None of them are. I can almost guarantee that plenty of people have had your idea. The reason we have never heard of them is because they all failed on the execution. Focus on that. If you execute the best you stand a fair chance of winning, whatever winning is to you.
posted by COD at 1:12 PM on February 8, 2009 [10 favorites]

What COD said, and also refer to NIH syndrome.
posted by rhizome at 1:22 PM on February 8, 2009

You could try AskMetfiler.

I'm sure fixedgear meant to say Projects.

Now for a reality check:

Nobody wants to steal your idea. Honestly. Ideas are cheap. Implementation isn't. Take YouTube for example: the idea of putting videos on the web had been around for years before they came along. YouTube succeeded where its predecessors failed due to a combination of timing, implementation, funding, marketing, and (most of all) luck.

Don't worry about marketing something you haven't built yet. Build it first, make it as good as it can be, and then worry about spreading the word. Even if your idea really truly is the most amazing thing ever, if people hear about it, go to check it out, and see nothing but an "under construction" sign, they won't be back. More to the point, if you haven't built it you really can't judge whether it is the most amazing thing ever. See above re "ideas are cheap".

Marketing a new website or service is hard: there's more to it than posting on a general-purpose forum or two and waiting for the hits to roll in. The best strategy for you will depend on what it is you're trying to build (and even then there's a lot of luck involved) but it's probably going to be some variation of the following:

A Plan For World Domination, By Ook
Step 1: Acquire a small set of loyal users: people with a vested interest in your success. At first this can just be friends and family, or you might find some people by looking at forums dedicated specifically to whatever it is you're building, or on competitor websites.
Step 2: Use them as beta testers. Listen to their feedback and most of all their complaints, and use them to improve what you've built. This will make those users more loyal and more likely to spread the word, and it will make your thing better.
Step 3: Find some more people who've never seen or heard of your site, and ask them to visit. Can they figure out immediately what it's about? How to use it? Why they would want to? If the answer to any of those is no, redesign your site until it's yes.
Step 4: Now you start broadcasting the link, both to the general fora like reddit and digg et all, and to prominent bloggers who cover the topic of whatever your idea is and might think your idea is worth talking about. If your idea is really earthshatteringly cool, it'll catch on. Maybe. Or it might not.
Step 5: Hooray! We're a success! Profit! That is... figure out how to monetize the thing. Hint: if you're planning on depending on subscription fees or ad revenue, you might want to think again.
posted by ook at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not a single person who's made anything popular read a random post on the Internet and said "Shit! That's it! That's my way to a zillion dollars!"

Lose the paranoia. You can't market anything if you're afraid that someone will find out about it. Obvious, right?

Read up on the life of Thomas Edison, shameless self promoter. Even his bad ideas saw wide adoption because he promoted them so broadly.

Very few individuals have the resources to Make It Huge. They get those resources by finding other people, people with both resources and the ability to recognize a decent idea done well, and getting them to invest. So get over it and start telling everyone you know about it in passionate obnoxious detail.

And frankly being First isn't what it's cracked up to be. Google was no where near the first search engine, YouTube wasn't the first video site and the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player. If you read that and think "Exactly my point! They stole someone else's idea and made it big!" then you're wrong. Ideas are simply out there, they're the wind. Absolutely everyone has them all the time. It's the execution that makes the difference, and when you're first, you don't know the problems that you're going to encounter.

If you really think that 1 in 10 people would use your magical mystery site then I guarantee that 1 in 10 people have had the idea already. But if you're afraid to tell 1 in 6.7 billion people your idea you'll never be able to prove me wrong.
posted by Ookseer at 2:33 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

The people who are saying execution is everything are 100% right.

Was google the first search engine? Did they even come up with the idea? No.
Was craigslist the first online message board?

As others have said, ideas are a dime a dozen, if not cheaper than that. Execution is everything. Unless you're an amazing designer and the world's greatest coder, you're going to need help on the execution or your idea will fail.

Sometimes, wisdom is knowing you need help.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:06 PM on February 8, 2009

Best answer: I just want to be devil's advocate for a second.

Everyone always says "ideas are nothing, execution is everything" on MeFi, but, sometimes, surely there is such a thing as a new idea, every once in a while?

Web-based email for an example. When the guys who invented Hotmail came up with it, they kept it to themselves for quite some time, because it was an obviously good, new idea, and nobody else was working on it as far as I know. Surely in that case, the idea is everything and the execution relatively simple?

And the Google search engine does in fact consist essentially of one very simple idea: rank pages using what links to them, not just the content. Implementation is difficult because in a way, you need a copy of the entire internet to make it possible, but it's not quantum-physics hard, it's just hard work. In that case again, the idea is more important than the implementation.

Part of the success of those two ideas also came because there were big players, and everyone "knew" that email had to live with certain problems, search was inherently difficult and ranking was as good as it would ever be, etc. etc. and it took someone who didn't "know" that to shake the field up.

I hasten to say that I probably agree with you all that it's incredibly unlikely, just by the law of averages, that jakubsnm actually has a fundamentally brilliant, new idea which he would be foolish to share with us.

But I would like to buy one share, please, jakub. Just in case.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:55 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

jakubsnm: I believe no one has the capacity or resources to copy the site for at least a fortnight.

Two weeks? That's nothing. If your idea is so easy to copy, then it's completely worthless without a devoted userbase.

Post it to Projects. If your idea really is so Unbelievably Awesome, it'll get posted to The Blue, which is a pretty significant place to start cultivating those users. Hell, if no one else does, I will.
posted by mkultra at 4:39 PM on February 8, 2009

Both ideas and execution are important.

I think that if your execution is anywhere near as good as your idea supposedly is, you shouldn't have to worry about getting your word out, but rather worry about the ability to accomadate the crush of consumers when they come banging on your door.
posted by mannequito at 4:40 PM on February 8, 2009

Hotmail is an excellent example, AmbroseChapel. It launched in July 1996. The first webmail program was open-sourced by a perl hacker in March of 1995. Hotmail didn't have a brilliant new idea, they had a good implementation and the money to make it scale.

I'll give you Google, though; they're the rare case of an (AFAIK) original idea actually succeeding.
posted by ook at 10:36 PM on February 8, 2009

I'd also recommend Metafilter Projects, if only because of the righteous Mefite army/investigative squad that is usually unleashed on anyone who tries to cheat or game anything related to the site.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:50 AM on February 9, 2009

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