The Friend Filter

In a world of abundant, choices we are increasingly less likely to trust the advertising machine for recommendations on what is truly good.  Instead, we listen to our friends.  They filter out the stuff that doesn’t matter (things they tried that were mediocre), and let us know of the stuff to avoid (because it sucks) and the stuff to check out (because it rocks).

For example, Blackberry has come out with their new AppWorld to try to compete with iTunes App Store.  I always wondered why it was so hard to find applications for the BB and now I know why; even when they are all aggregated together, it’s still hard to find applications.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like my BlackBerry, but not for the incredible number of applications I can get for it.  Nevertheless, one of their featured apps was Pandora which I decided to install, but it required a login to their system, so there it sat, on my phone, useless.  

Then I came across a friend who has an iPod Touch and while he was showing me the great wonders of the latest OS update, I saw that he had Pandora installed and asked about it.  He said, “Oh man, it’s great.  I hardly listen to anything else now.  Pandora let’s you create customized internet radio stations with just the music you like”.  Wow. Sounds good.  Another week goes by, and finally, while at work, my collegue and I are looking for something new to listen to.  I pull up Pandora on the computer, and start playing with it, and indeed it is incredibly good.

So what got me listening to it; not installing it on my phone, but instead a recommendation from a friend.  And how did my colleague hear about it and start creating his own stations, from me.  He even mentioned he doesn’t try out much stuff, but was glad to find this. He is just like all of us: we are waiting for our friends to help us find the important things.

It used to be that we were all looking for things to do, things to buy, things to pay attention to.  We would get interested by a TV advertisement or a banner ad, now we ignore both.  We figure, if there is something important to know about or to try our friends will tell us.  We trust these people and so are more naturally inclined to believe what they say about a product or service.  Word of mouth has always been an important form of advertising; it’s quickly becoming the only form.

So when you discover something great, tell your friends – their waiting for it.  And if you’re trying to make something great, make sure your fans can tell their friends about it.






2 responses to “The Friend Filter”

  1. Uncle Ken Avatar

    Hey Matthew – I listen to Pandora every day! When I’m writing, I’ve got Mozart going… I’m counting on that “Mozart-effect” to pay off. GREAT post.

  2. […] Oddly, there is another aspect of this that applies to VC’s namely it doesn’t pay to be wildly above the mean (sure you make great returns, but with few big bets, if you’re wrong, you’re never going to close a second fund).  This is why investors tend to flock together.  They want to be close to average, but they also want to have their own secret sauce that pushes them just a little ahead of their peers.  If they can be just a little better, they are more likely to secure follow on funding from their LP’s.  Apparently, they too use their friends as a filter. […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: