Alex Zhu & Musical.ly Growth

May 19, 2019 ☼ Product

Really enjoyed this interview with Musical.ly founder Alex Zhu. Well worth the watch if you have the time. Otherwise, try and comprehend my notes..

Go with the flow… of Human Nature

For social networks to take off, you need something that goes with social nature (gossiping, messaging) not education. His early idea of an education platform on mobile just didn’t fit with human nature. At first provide utility (like instagram) and then eventually status. Remember, humans are wired to pursue social capital. If the action is only happening on weekly basis, it’s not going to be enough to make a habit. If there is no habit, you can’t grow.

Participatory Design

Musical.ly had a WeChat group of users that use to talk to, joke with, get an understanding of how they think. They always presented new ideas, have conversation, share mockups, wireframes and get feedback before they code a new feature.

Community as a Country

Think of your new community like a country.

At early stage of a new country, you need to build a centralized economy. A mechanism for the first people to get rich. This gives early adopters a reason to migrate over from more established economies where they have hit the ceiling’. They become role models. An example I can think of is early-stage Medium, where all writers got a lot of eyes on their articles.

Later, when there’s more people living there, you need to decentralize, allow the middle class to get attention to. Splinter into sub groups.

The Power of a Strong Value Prop

Adding features does not make an unsuccessful product successful.

A product becomes successful when one core feature (lip syncing) becomes a killer feature. They changed the value prop from general music maker to lip sync.

When they onboarded new users…