Startup Analogies: A founder’s guide to social media

The deeper we dove into the world of Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Kick, and other video-centric social medias, the more clear it became that professional creators walk a similar road to that as us product-based founders.
Livestreaming and VODs (videos-on-demand) can be an extremely powerful conduit of new users, both through partnerships as well as building your own channels. Often times we see founders and companies using the wrong metrics, and focusing on the wrong areas for growth. Ironically enough, nearly every aspect has a YC-preached counter-part. This post will cover the analogies between video-based social media and the startup world in hopes of providing clarity of founders on how to best execute.

Subscribers/followers are a vanity metric (like new users or waitlist signups)

Ultimately it means they are vaguely interested, and now you have some kind of method for contacting them, but that does not guarantee anything.
In the SM (social media) world, you get paid based on 2 things:
  1. Number of ad-seconds you show to viewers
  1. Out-of-band deals like sponsorships, self-made products, etc.
Both of these incomes depend entirely on the amount of eyes and ears on your content, which subscribers and followers are not.
This is basically the same as a waitlist on your SaaS product, or user registrations. Ultimately these are unconverted users, and can’t be qualified in any meaningful metrics except for conversions.

What metrics do I focus on?

Views, ACV (avg concurrent viewers), retention (how long do viewers stick around for a video/stream) are sort of like tracking retention on your product usage.
All of the above drive growth and directly determine revenue. Every view is like a one-time sale, and you want to keep creating content that drives users back to making those purchases with their time.
Comments/chat is an indicator of retention that can also boost your exposure on the platform, but does not directly impact your revenue.

Other channels reposting your content is basically always a good thing

Whether they attribute a clip to your channel/product, display it without attribution, or actively hide the original content and try to post it as their own, it’s always good.
While there can be come exceptions with hiding attribution when it’s difficult to prove ownership, any piece of content that takes off will always have someone in the comments or chat that will identify the real source. Any curious viewers will they go search for the original content, and continue to follow from there.
This is analagous to someone making a copy of your product. Ultimately you lead the features, quality, and scale. You are the one who understands your users, which gives you the ultimate edge. If someone is copying a product without understanding their users or why something works (or doesn’t!) then they are doomed to fail. Someone copying your product is also some level of validation that people want what you are making! (or it’s an indicator that you’re missing the mark on something important 😅)