I moderated a panel today on go-to-market strategy for Social Media startups. The panelists - Sergio Monsalve from Norwest Venture Partners, Charlene Li from Forrester Research, Jason Oberfest from MySpace and Social Media Evangelist Deborah Schultz did an excellent job of keeping the audience both entertained and informed. A few highlights from the panel:
- yes, you can get a million users trivially for an app on Facebook or MySpace ... but a million is a pretty small number nowadays for a social media app, and these are hardly sticky users
- all the panelists stressed engagement as being more important than simple viral growth ... advertisers, particularly brands, want users who hang around
- bleak times could be ahead for the CPM ad world ... CEOs, hunker down, focus on alternative business models, and start thinking about freemium strategies
- one thing missing (brought out by a question after the panel) was an emphasis on partnering for traffic acquisition, so much a feature of Web 1.0. With the exception of a few sites like Zillow that have proprietary information they can syndicate to portals such as Yahoo Real Estate, traffic acquisition is either through viral invitations (including widget embeds) or SEO/SEM.
The panel was streamed live on ustream.tv and is recorded here.