Here’s your next billion-dollar Internet startup idea. If it sounds like the dumbest idea in the world, remember that you didn’t think of Twitter. That will keep you humble enough to get through this post.
Imagine a web site that allows any adult to post a ten-second video that is nothing but a statement of opinion, showing only the speaker’s face. The opinion could be anything from “Diet Coke tastes better than Diet Pepsi” to a political preference. The web site would sort the opinions into as many categories as needed. Visitors to the site would be able to vote on the videos, based on agreement with the opinions, or the general attractiveness of the speaker.
Videos would also be sortable by most-viewed, and newest. And you could sort by speaker, to get all of the opinions of an individual. And let’s assume the monetization of this site comes from ads.
That’s the entire business idea. Now watch while I explain what makes this idea so brilliant. And before you leap to disagree, did I mention that you didn’t think of Twitter?
Okay, first, there is a universal human attraction to faces. It’s why magazines usually feature faces on the cover. Publishers know that people are drawn to human faces, especially famous or attractive ones. It’s why People Magazine thrives. It’s also why movies and television shows fill much of their screen time with nothing but giant talking heads. Faces are interesting and objects are not.
Imagine a TV show about your favorite hobby, no matter if that is cooking, cars, technology or whatever. You wouldn’t watch that show unless it had a lot of humans in it, preferably attractive ones, showing their faces. It says a lot that even your own favorite hobby wouldn’t hold your interest on screen without faces.
When you look at someone’s personal photographs, the boring pictures involve nothing but beautiful scenery. The interesting pictures involve humans looking at the camera and acting goofy.
Babies respond to faces instinctively. It’s one of the first things they learn. Even your pet gives you eye contact and studies your face. One of the most basic instincts for any mammal is that faces are important and interesting. Okay, I think I made my point. Now let’s get to the fascinating part.
Research supports the obvious fact that the opinions of attractive people carry more weight than the opinions of ugly people. We wish that weren’t the case, and we assume that we are personally exempt from that sort of influence. But let’s agree that all of the other people in the world are influenced by attractive faces.
We also know that the repetition of any message makes it seem more credible, against all common sense. The web site I’m describing would have a lot of message repetition.
We know that humans love attention. And they love giving their opinions. So it shouldn’t be hard to attract free content for the site at the start. The fun part happens once the site reaches a certain level of traffic by natural growth.
Imagine you’re a company, or a political party, or an activist, and you know that millions of people are going to this site just for fun – because they like looking at attractive faces, especially when the attractive people agree with them. And because you know a thing or two about influence, it is obvious that opinions are being changed or perhaps hardened by all of this exposure to attractive people with opinions. At this point, the big-money interest groups will start hiring gorgeous models to seed the system with opinions that support their causes. In time, the average level of attractiveness would rise from normal to extraordinary. And the faces with the most votes would become international celebrities.
I know my readers. Your first impulse is I wouldn’t go to that stupid site just to look at faces voicing dumb opinions. But remember that while you’re brilliant and fascinating, and you have important things to do, the audience for this website is everyone else. I’m not too proud to admit I would go to a site like that, hit the slideshow button, and watch the faces go by.