Driving home tonight, I thought about how Facebook has really tapped into something that regular people are drawn to. Namely, to stay in contact with friends, meet new friends, and play games with those friends. With updates and pictures and videos, you can be a part of people’s lives even if they’re miles away. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
That got me thinking, “What else drives people?”, and what kind of site could be built to tap into that drive. I realized, thinking about the rise of “reality” TV and American Idol over the past decade, that many people (mostly younger, it seems) have a notion that they have a god-given right to be famous. It seems to generally be an American notion, but shows like X-factor and Big Brother in the UK seem to suggest the trend is spreading. And then looking at people on The Hills or the Kardashians or Paris Hilton, over the past 5 years, people are becoming super famous without having any discernible talent.
So how can you tap into that desire for fame, using the web? I haven’t researched it, and someone may have already tried it, but maybe there’s a way to have people upload videos, music, stories, poems, whatever… then other users give them an up-or-down Digg-like vote. Then once a month or so, the winners are highlighted on the front page… given a prize… I don’t know.
I think the main section of the site would be a timed contest. When you upload something, it goes into the current contest, like a month long. Once the contest is over, the winner(s) have their entries removed from further contests. The winners would also be ineligible from winning again for a period of time… 6 months or a year. Non-winners have all their votes reset, but each entry can be eligible for up to 6 months of contests… after which, the entry is ineligible from further contests.
There should also be another section that works as like an archive. So all unique votes are tallied, and it displays the most popular entries from all time. Maybe people could have entries that don’t go into the contest… but are just submitted for the general votes. So past winners could still upload content and be voted on for the overall.
Another thought, before you can vote on other’s, you have to upload something. That way, you don’t just have trolls, but people actually participating in the site. There should also be a mechanism for weeding out people that upload crap just to be able to vote… maybe a “spam” button? Of course, there’s a potential for that being abused.
It sounds a bit YouTube-y… but with more than just videos, and with a contest element instead of just Views.
Voting: If you just had links to entries where you could vote, there’s a potential for some entries to get many more views and votes. This may not be a bad thing, and bring that organic, viral quality like YouTube. On the other hand, to be somewhat fair, there might need to be a Hot-or-Not voting system that randomly selects entries for you to vote on. I think there should also be categories for the winners… so videos and written entries would have different winners. Though, there should also be an Overall winner who gets the big prize.
Really, I think the key to the success of this site would be: 1) It needs to be super simple to register and add content. VERY low barrier to entry. 2) There should be a good number of users who add content, helped by #1, and 3) the prizes need to be nice, also feeding into #2.
Prizes: To start with, the main prize should be at least $2500. Ideally, it should be around $10k… because THAT is “real” money. Individual category prizes could start at $500, but should eventually get up to the $2500 range. Actually, as I think about it, it would be best to start at $10K… start with a BANG and reach critical mass as soon as possible. Logistically though, that’s a bit impractical unless a huge sponsor is involved from the beginning. However, there would still need to be at least $20K invested from the beginning to cover a few months, even if we went with the lower prizes.
Income: Pretty much this would all be ad revenue. One or two big sponsors? Use pre/post rolls or lower-thirds on the videos, text ads, overall site branding. I think target demo for the site is 13-25 year olds, with outliers up to 40… very appealing to advertisers.
That’s all I got… if anyone decides to pursue the idea, let me know.