I learned this with Board of Man. When I first started on Pinterest, it was a foray into the unknown...could men find value in Pinterest? Sitting at well over 300k followers, our group of manly curators attacked the white space not many had and drew a lot of PR attention in the process. Were we the best Pinterest board out there? Probably not. The best "men-centric" board? I would argue that there are probably better curators out there in terms of quality. However, we were one of the first to attack the space, helping spawn our growth.
Also, in terms of Pinterest, Lowe's took a stab at using Pinterest inside of a Facebook tab. You can read more of my thoughts behind that particular effort here on Engauge's blog. It wasn't the best Pinterest initiative that I had ever seen...nothing really mindblowing to me from a marketing perspective. However, they were the first to really try it...therefore giving them a TON of press coverage in marketing news outlets and probably more Pinterest followers in the process.
When Being First Gets a Payday.
Now let's take the conversation mobile. Instagram. There are a plethora of other photo filtering mobile apps out in the space. There's Picplz and Streamzoo to name a couple. In terms of filtering ability, I believe Streamzoo offers a much better product. It has more filters, better options and the same hashtag sharing and curating that Instagram does. However...Streamzoo wasn't first. Instagram was.
Instagram's stab at being first in the space helped them lead the way for other photo apps. They received most of the press from bloggers and tech industry websites, despite being an iOS only app. Instagram built a community of passionate users from being the first major player in that space, which helped them lead to a $1 BILLION acquisition.
On being first...
Being the first to try something, to do what nobody else has tried is tough. There's a huge probability of failure that stares you in the face. The probability of someone coming in and outperforming you also lingers.
In addition, there's always the chance white space exists for a reason. Maybe our Board of Man wouldn't have taken off because there really was no male interest in Pinterest. Maybe Instagram would've been a waste of VC dollars if the public wasn't interested in making their phone pictures look like old polaroids. Sometimes there's white space because other people have tried and failed. There's a balance in recognizing opportunity and wasting time.
Either path is a risk. However, the reward potential is huge for attacking white space and being the first to market.
How about you? Do you think the first or the best platforms are the ones that get all the attention?