Faking it.

  1. Providing a product, like 37signals.
  2. Creating a community, like Pinterest.
  3. Building a useful platform, like Twilio.
  • Quora’s staff started off answering as many questions as they could. This helped create a site that had activity on it, which encouraged other users to participate. Suddenly, they didn’t have to spend hours answering questions themselves.
  • Whenever Reddit‘s admins posted submissions, it would randomly generate a submitter’s name. This is similar to what Quora did, but slightly more… cunning.
  • ██████ takes their real-time user numbers and multiplies them by a randomly generated number. Whereas before, it would say “6 users online,” it would say “68 users online.” They don’t fake any activity, but just that extra magnitude of users generates a large amount of actual user activity. Soon, they won’t have to do that, as their real user activity will generate enough momentum by itself.
  • Several communities, including Pinterest (one I feel especially fondly about), just need activity to succeed. It’s tough to generate meaningful activity to a point of scale with a small number of employees. To solve this problem, they start as an invite-only community. Because they’re invite-only, they have the time to generate useful content, gain really passionate users (when user’s get invited in when mere mortals aren’t, they’re more likely to participate, empirically). Then, once you reach a point you’re happy with, you can open it up to the public — and bam, massive growth follows.

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Founder and CEO, Gumroad

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