Don’t Underestimate Online Communities - They Actually Influence The Way SaaS Works
If someone approached you in 2012 and asked you what you think about Instagram, would you have said:
“I believe it will turn into a huge B2C marketplace which millions of people are going to be addicted to.”
I wouldn’t have. And I have been using the app actively since 2015.
Still, I couldn’t foresee this.
The fascinating part about this is that Instagram is not the only platform that exceeded even its own expectations.
I remember the times when there were no stories on Instagram, no marketplace, no IGTV, no reels, not even DM. They added all those things later as the product developed.
And now, Instagram could compensate for six different apps:
I don’t know if there are other apps that I couldn’t think of. I wouldn’t be surprised, though.
And I have to say, I am expecting an Unbundling in the near future.
Unbundling. Let me explain:
What is Unbundling?
In this case, Unbundling is when an online platform grows too big to sustain itself, so startups build vertical platforms that actually specialize in one aspect of that platform.
So Instagram is an app now that allows you to do everything in one place, right?
So was Craigslist once.
Did you notice how many unicorns there are on this list?
And you may know that it’s not common to have multiple unicorns in a small list such as this one.
Fun fact, these are not the only companies that benefit from the unbundling of Craigslist.
So what happened to Craigslist itself?
It simply couldn’t handle the feature bloat and is not popular anymore.
I have thought of a quote about this:
“Everyone used Craigslist for the last time one day, and no one even noticed.”
I know that it’s not original. But hey, I tried.
What does SaaS have to do with this “Unbundling”?
It’s not easy to foresee which platforms are bloated enough to be unbundled, but it is a fact that it is possible to detect the fast-growing communities.
Instagram, Linkedin, Getir, or even Blockchain applications? Could such things happen in the Metaverse?
That part is up to you.
Let’s say that you found yourself a target, you now know what online community is about to need a specific place to gather, but you don’t know how to benefit from that bloat.
How do you choose?
Here is how the podcast puts it:
▷You pick a tribe (a part of that online community) that is too big; then, you face an early death.
▷You pick a tribe too small; you can’t basically get anything.
Here is how I put it:
Start where you feel the most confidence in community size, potential budget requirements, marketing, and branding.
Again, that part is up to you.
Is there any other way to benefit from those online communities?
If you don’t want to take a risk and expect your great idea to trigger an unbundling, you could actually invest in some of those online communities.
Many companies already invest in such platforms, but mostly because they want to reduce the workload of their customer support teams.
This approach is not wrong, it’s actually quite smart.
However, there are broader use cases of online communities for B2B SaaS.
They can help you with:
✔️ User-generated content,
✔️ Network effects,
✔️ Making your media more interactive.
I respect the great effort that went into that episode of the Growth TL; DR podcast, and I highly recommend that you listen to it if you are interested in the topics I’ve mentioned.
P.S. This content is not sponsored, I promise. I genuinely enjoyed the episode, and I know you will too.