The story of a 1.5 Billion User App Built by this World-Changer
- This is the story of how one poverty-stricken immigrant built an app used today by 1.5 billion people worldwide.
The man is perched on the keypad typing briskly; from time to time he pauses for three seconds to check each paragraph.
It’s a cold February morning, but he doesn’t mind the snow falling outside his window. He is writing an article on his company’s blog letting the audience know about the latest milestone he and his team achieved. After pushing the publish button, he leans back on his seat, his face beaming with the satisfaction of achieving his dreams. He takes a moment to ponder the befuddling journey he had started out years ago.
He remembers how eight years earlier, he was discussing his idea he had for a new smartphone app with some friends meeting over pizza and drinks. They encouraged him to put his idea into practise so on his birthday that year he set up his company in California, USA. He was unemployed at the time so in the months following he hardly remembers doing anything else but endless hours of back-end coding to get his app running.
As any app in early developing stages, his platform kept crushing or getting stuck. He had almost given up when his long-time friend and university colleague told him to stay the course and keep working on it.
“You’d be an idiot to quit now,” he said. “Give it a few more months.”
His app received a surprising help from the smartphone developer and he made the most of it. He also updated it to meet the needs of its early users. The 2.0 update brought an unexpected increase of 250,000 active users. He looked at the user growth spike in amazement. His app was definitely promising to turn into a full-fledged success. His supporting friend shared his confidence and invested $250,000 in his developing app. He came on board the company as the cofounder.
The man stands up, walks to his window and watches the snow fall. He smiles briefly while comparing the warm winters in California with the especially hard winters he lived through in his birth country.
He spent his childhood in a communist-ruled country going to school in -20 C winter days. Using the bathroom meant strolling to the parking lot because the school didn’t have inside facilities. As he told his friends, he didn’t have to read the 1984 novel because he experienced it first hand.
When the political environment took a turn for the worse and it was increasingly dangerous for their family, they migrated to USA when he was only 16. He moved to freedom together with his mother and grandmother, his father vowing to join them later. Unfortunately, his father fell ill and five years later he died, breaking his promise to his family.
In the USA, his family lived on the brink of poverty. They survived mostly on food stamps while he worked as a cleaner in a grocery store supporting his mother’s income as a babysitter. His mother was soon diagnosed with cancer and passed away within a few years. He recalls the day of her funeral and lets out a deep sigh. His eyes look out the window with sadness. Years of hurt and sorrow ensued. However he managed to find the inner-strength needed to push through the grief and make a life for himself.
He learned English and became interested in programming. That’s the moment that changed his life. He didn’t have a computer until he was 19 and yet he taught himself programming by studying manuals he was buying from the local bookstore. His new-found passion for programming led him to enrol in university.
I want to do one thing and do it well.
Jan Koum via forbes.com
The man in my story is Jan Koum, founder of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp was launched in 2009 and as of 2018 there are 1,5 billion people using the app on a daily basis making it the no 1 messaging app in the world. According to analysts, the giant messaging app is currently worth $50 billion.
And it all started … when education happened.
Jan Koum is a world-changer. The next one could be YOU!
This Year take one step closer to the future you want for yourself (or for your beloved ones) and invest in education!
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This is the second article in our Success Stories Series. Read the first story here:
The $8 Billion Company built by this World-Changer
5 pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2018, the international PR agency point of view
PR has become indispensable for companies nowadays, evolving from “simple” media relations activities to strategy,consultancy and more and more diverse services. Moreover, it’s obvious that it needs to be part of the whole communication process and in close relationship with marketing and sales, being one of the business’ best driving forces. Raluca Ene, Managing Director Chapter 4 Romania offers 5 important pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2018, to take home about how to tell the world about your entrepreneurial endeavor:
Know your WHY – there is nothing more important for a successful communication effort than being crystal clear not only on what you do and for whom, but why you’re doing it. The single most important thing that would transmit directly to your potential customers is your motivation and drive.
Know your customer inside out, especially where your customer takes his/her information from – build personas, as they should do the trick and reveal the channels your customers use (media, social media, blogs, events etc.). Gather information about the respective channels. Don’t be afraid of words such as virtual reality or artificial intelligence – see what’s there, don’t dismiss anything by default.
Be honest about the resources you are ready to spend on communication – I know, it’s rather annoying to learn something you know is necessary for the growth of your business, but not your cup of tea at all. Nevertheless, if you want to make your business work, you have to be efficient, and that should go first.
If you are just starting up or in the first stage of developing the business, maybe it would be better to consider choosing a seasoned communication consultant, pay a one-time fee for a professional advice and guidance and assume the implementation yourself rather than paying an internal specialist or an agency retainer. Go to marketing & communication events for entrepreneurs, there are quite a few available these days, and some of them are quite good. Once you start having a steady profit, hiring a professional team would definitely free your time to dedicate to your business.
Invest wisely – make your dollar count and choose to invest in the channel with the most exposure to your core target. Take into consideration building your own space for telling your story (e.g. website, blog, YouTube channel) before deciding where to promote it. Specialists might give you different kinds of advice – ask for as many arguments as possible and listen carefully, but make your own decision. Your entrepreneurial guts matter more than you think, listen to it.
You are the best ambassador of your business, use yourself! Even the shiest of entrepreneurs lighten up and become energetic and passionate when it comes to their own creation, therefore put yourself to good use and go out there: talk about your business, go to events, ask questions (especially to more seasoned entrepreneurs that went successfully through the phase you are now), be there. It will pay off, and then some.
No product or service would sell without people finding out about their existence first (and yes, word of mouth is a communication channel as well J), so why not embrace it and make room in your agenda for communication – there are plenty of resources to inspire and help you around.
Tips & tricks on how to create a successful video campaign on Facebook
Today is all about finding your vision and place on the market and targeting it the right way. Specific messages are created and translated in a specific way, for each media in part. What works for YouTube may very well not work on Facebook or cinema. Even if we talk about the same brand, campaign, positioning and target. So how does one create a powerful and successful video for Facebook, in order to really help the brand?
According to kissmetrics.com, over three billion videos are watched on Facebook daily. Video is eye-catching and engaging and, when used properly, is a great way to bring life to a product or brand. The website editors identified 4 main rules that you can find here. (credit photo: Shutterstock)
As Facebook says, while video continues to grow as a storytelling medium for people and brands, it has been working with hundreds of businesses on building and analyzing video ads to discover what makes great video creative. What they found was that, like advertising of all kinds, building effective video ad creative requires both art and science.
Some rules that would anyone help create a good Facebook video are:
- Tailor your story to your audience.
People are more likely to pay attention to content that’s relevant to their interests, which means you’ll likely get better results if you customize your ad’s message for the people who see it. Consider creating unique videos (or different versions of the same video) for different audience segments.
- Invest in production.
Whether you use a camera phone or a production team, secure the best available creative resources and set a realistic production schedule and budget. People are more likely to watch and remember videos that are well-crafted and designed to play on every device. Remember, cheap doesn’t sell anymore and doesn’t give the “authenticity” feel anymore. Treat the channel with the proper respect and attention and you will get the wanted results.
- Make sure people will relate to the story, by keeping it real and close to them. Use situations that feel close to people’s lives and habits.
- Use the first few seconds wisely.
Bring your story to life quickly, so as people scroll through News Feed looking for content, your video ad quickly piques people’s interest. Consider showing brand or product imagery in the first few seconds. Almost half of the value of a video ad is delivered in the first three seconds, according to research that Facebook commissioned from audience ratings and research company Nielsen. Seventy-four per cent of the value of a video ad is delivered to the audience in the first 10 seconds.
- Focus on storytelling.
Video length is less important than telling a cohesive and concise story. Your video ad shouldn’t be longer or shorter than it takes to tell your story well, so create a storytelling arc from the first frame to the last that keeps your audience interested along the way.
- Create empathy / entertain them / make them laugh or cry.
Everyone feels close to a good, real story that captivates them and brings their emotions to the table.
- Tell your story with and without sound.
Since videos on Facebook autoplay with sound off, it’s important to make sure your video ads entice viewers even when muted. When sound is off, beautiful imagery and on-screen text can help tell your story. When enabled, your video’s sound should offer additional value to viewers and further bring your story to life.
- Use the Groups section
Meeting friends, and sharing your life with those friends, is the business of Facebook. The platform’s ‘Groups’ video perfectly portrays how it helps people connect with others who share similar interests. It creatively identifies how users can benefit from using Facebook by providing a clearly defined problem and a beginning, middle, and end.
How to have the best brand storytelling on Instagram
As storytelling is the latest trend in communication, all the agencies and companies trying to bring the concept to life in their campaigns and social media presence, Instagram is one of the latest powerful social media tools to try and capitalize on this trend.
According to Social Media Week, since Instagram launched a couple of years ago, over 300 million people have used this platform as a visual place to share their lives. With more than 20 billion images shared on the app to date–this app has become a creative space & community for people to share their story in innovative ways using photography and short videos.
It’s no wonder the stories on Instagram are catching up people’s attention and likeness as so many of them spending so much time on their mobile devices. What it does now for its users is allowing them to share their stories to the world in a quick and easy fashion. It has become a simple, yet powerful tool that has allowed people and brands to develop their own voice visually.
How can a brand take advantage of this trend and make himself even more noticeable on Instagram? Just take a pick here at our short pieces of advice:
- Identifying your niche & developing your own unique voice.
The way you position yourself is always the key. The more different, unique, special your brand is, the better. Make sure that your stories are always capturing that essence of the brand and special approach. By giving your audience something they know they can expect from you, it will be easier to grow a stronger and more dedicated community around your work.
- Utilizing your captions to add more depth to your photos.
Captions may become a vital part of your storytelling process, if you know how to put accent on them and use the right hashtags and words. The story behind the story is always important and should be relevant. Putting your own spin on the story, emphasizing on a certain aspect that makes your brand YOURS is helping bring the story where it should. Your story ultimately, makes a huge difference.
- Choosing and using different angles
The same places or the same ideas, presented in your brand’s way, are creating the differentiation that you are looking for. Instead of shooting something from the same angle as everyone else, try looking for new spots to take the same photo. Maybe you want to get closer to the ground for a different angle, pose a person in a different place, or shoot a photo through the branches of a tree to provide a more natural frame. There are always ways to put a new spin on the same place, and try to make sure you try a bunch of different angles.
- Highlight your brand’s versatility
People want the brands to be playful, to interact, engage and entertain them. They get bored really easy and you must make sure you always bring something fresh to the table. Don’t be afraid to try, to mix and match, to always have in handy a special new app or filter that is trendy. Make it count while is still fresh and not used by a lot of other brands present on Instagram. Your followers will be looking for powerful, original, content. Find ways to expand your current niche creatively to develop a strong brand voice.
- Using video and gifs
Always be present. Be fast and up-to-date. A video speaks more than a picture. A gif makes one laugh and entertains. In other words, powerful tools for your story.
- Making sure you have user-generated content
Getting your followers involved is extremely important for a TODAY brand. Get your audience to do some of the heavy lifting for you by creating a user-generated hashtag for your brand tribe. Then you can post the content of your biggest fans directly on your Instagram account.
- Showing your happy employees
What do you mean? Call center does not need stretching? If you have to be at a desk all day long, doing some simple things can improve your posture and health##fitbreak#officestretching#stretching#public#callcenter#healthyworkplace#happyemployees#worklifebalance#funatwork #beactivebeproductive#corporatewellness#olympiagroup#corporatewellness#posture#?☎️??⌨️?
There’s a global war for talent today and the best brands are showing off the fresh faces on their team and all the fun they are having at work. Showcasing yourself at work or your company’s employees in action is great for putting a human face on your brand, which makes what you share on Instagram more interesting to your followers.
- Introducing them behind-the-scenes
Learned so much at #SocialMediaWeek! Huge thanks to @jaslovesyou, @madrid73, everyone helping behind the scenes + the panelists! . . . . . @consortdesign @thematfinish @bquattro @citysage @lightlab @thebouqsco @triciateschke @soulcycle @zoekasiske @latimes @comedycentral @drewpinsky @homepolish @thefutureperfect
Each one of us loves to feel special and shown that they are important. Make sure your brand does that for its followers. You can start by taking them inside the stories of your company, showing them some never-seen before images, actions, activities, etc. Take them where nobody has been before!