Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Discovery > Search

Looking at where tech companies are innovating today, it is clear the new area of focus for Silicon Valley is "discovery."  And it's a great thing.  Companies that are currently gaining success through discovery as a core feature are Pinterest, Foursquare, Fab, and Instagram.  And Web 2.0 companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have quickly shifted their products to make discovery part of their core experiences.

Search, in the way that we know it, was long won by Google years ago.  If you know what you want, but just need to find that pointer to it, Google is your solution.  By dominating the bottom of a person's decision funnel, Google became a $200b company.  But discovery is anyone's game and a much bigger playing field.  It's the wide top of the funnel.

While search is rooted in efficiency and transactions, discovery is unpredictable and happenstance--but most importantly emotional. It's what happens when someone posts a beautiful picture on Facebook, links to a fascinating article on Twitter, or emails a hilarious video on YouTube. You HAVE to click on it to learn more and when you do, you love it.  Because discovery is emotional, the value of positive discovery through your product is immensely greater than a pure utilitarian product.

More than anyone, Facebook has made discovery its product's bread-and-butter.  Discovery is what makes the Feed so addictive--the unknown stories of your friend's lives are revealed on Facebook in real-time.  Furthermore, your friends are awesome filters to introducing you to something interesting.  That constant feed of interesting stories, pictures, and videos is why Facebook has 800m members spending 7 hours a month on its site.

In a future post, I'll provide some best practices for companies to engineer discovery into their products and create deep engagement.

Would love to hear other examples of great discovery that people know of.

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