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Good-enough goes a long way when combined with network effect. You don’t always need to be better to win, you just have to rob your competitor of its appeal. Why would people stray if you provide convenience, even without quality. — Josh Constine
A year or two ago, Snapchat wasn’t well-known in Taiwan, but I have been using them to keep in touch with friends from the States. Most people used Facebook/Instagram for their social networking, so it was an untapped market for Snapchat. The number of Snapchat users has been increasing over the past two years, but it wasn’t growing nearly fast enough to be relevant.
When Instagram first launched Stories, I was one of those users who felt indifferent towards a Snapchat rip-off. What I didn’t understand was that users who rely on their network on Instagram don’t care if Stories is a rip-off of some other company they haven’t heard of. I’ve actually met a number of people who have tried and liked Snapchat but chose to stay on Instagram because all of their friends are already there and the Stories features is good enough for them.
Facebook and Instagram have used this strategy in their products when new competitors started gaining traction. They provided a good enough version of the competitor’s product on their platform to halt the competitor’s growth and prevent users from leaving their platform. Facebook launched Subscribe in response to twitter, and Instagram launched Stories to compete against Snapchat.
In both cases, the users have less incentive to leave the platform when it has a good enough version of the new feature and all of their friends. Add this to your playbook when you’re a industry leader at risk of losing customers to a new competition — it’s unlikely it’ll win users from your competition, but should help you prevent from losing yours.