18. April 2012–
New York is the most opinionated city ever. From the subway mongers to the florists to the newsstand, everyone everywhere is arguing. In no other city are homeless people more willing to tell you that the dude you're walking with is stealing your soul. In no dentist waiting rooms are strangers more passionately discussing the current status of Linsey Lohan hair weave. Growing up there, my schoolteachers weren't just schoolteachers. They were born-again libertarians, Chaucer enthusiasts with a vendetta against the upper classes.
So when I heard that Amen was heading to NYC, I couldn't be more curious of the outcome. Two months after its arrival, I decided to check in with the woman who brought it there, to ask: What the hell are New Yorkers saying about Amen?!
Introducing Candy Behunin: The best Amen junkie ever.
Candy loved Amen so much she got a job there. No joke. I think she'll die with a gravestone that says, "Candy Behunin, born xxxx, died 2099. Amen." She currently goes by the job title "The Amen Evangelista."
So how are New Yorkers taking Amen? Are they digging it?
Time over here is money, so to get someone's time is like striking gold. I was able to grasp feedback from the tech community, but reaching the general population was challenging. Sometimes there's a little confusion. Once I was mistaken for a crazy religious fanatic. But for the most part people are excited about it.
If Amen even had any competition, at all. Hmmm. In New York I felt it was not necessarily a matter of direct competition from a branding perspective but more from an incentives question. People would ask, what do I get if I give an Amen? People like rewards, whether it is notoriety, monetary, or fulfills an emotional need. Amen has the platform to deliver these, so I look forward to witnessing the development in these areas to enhance the social service and experience for Ameners.
What about Yelp? When I left, that's what everyone was still using. It sucked.
Yelp isn't much of a threat, largely because of just that. People are frustrated with it and are looking for opinions and ratings that are less biased (paid advertisement from businesses), easier to sort through mediocrity (have to scroll through too many reviews to get a good overview of a place or service). They're sick of having to fill in too much information to create a quality review (stars, comments, info of place, etc...it's like a mini blog at times) and there's no way of knowing if someone really knows what they are talking about (tons of reviews, but who is reviewing their reviews, you know? At least with Amen, you can see a following to give a user or opinionator credibility).
What's the difference between an Amen user in Berlin and an Amen user in New York?
I find Berliners like to shout loud and proud about anything and everything. No shame in their game. Actually, the more controversial, the more amusing and engaging it is. Berliners have a good balance of Best this and Worst that. Beriners talk about their emotions way more than New Yorkers do.
Are these kids like, celebrities or something?
If you could change one thing about the app, what would it be?
I think if we had a most popular search broken down into categories and locations people could find info faster and easier. We could also have a best of NYC Amen, so that people can see what is trending in NYC specifically, not just Amen in general. That function could help deliver more impact, as far as saving them time and offering them advice on things that interest them.
What's the worst thing about that's made life better?
NYC has really bad and super slow wifi. As annoying as it can get, it actually is every mobile app developer's wet dream. Why? It means that there are a ton of potential users via population. Too many people on 3G = Big, huge KaCHING for mobile developers - whoop there it is!
New Yorkers are so obsessed with the superlative (both finding and generating it). Try looking for a cheeseburger with one of them and you'll end up walking around a 20-block radius flipping through your Zagat's app until you end up dizzy at that kebab stand that got a write-up in NYMag...
Are New Yorkers hard to deal with?
New Yorkers socialize on a higher level of purpose, meaning each connection should be an end to a means. Their time is highly valuable, so tell them why they should be there, how it will benefit them and how this will contribute to their overall goals. If something is popular, New Yorkers actually love it until it creates inconvenience, then at that point, they will only continue if it really does fulfill a specific need that is worth the aggravation/wait, etc...
What are you learning from observing the way New Yorkers use Amen?
It is easier to get New Yorkers to Amen things that are already generated opinions, and particularly the BEST. They want someone else to do the leg work and tell them what is hot or not. They are more likely to respond if Best/Worst or Hot/Not discoveries are on Amen readily available. What this tells me is that New Yorkers would use Amen even more if we took the time to create content ourselves first, generating lists and possibly categorizing them into areas like food, drinks, spas, retail, daily thoughts, etc.... And once enough people and content starts to flow in, then comes the viral coefficient.
What's the difference between New York and Berlin when you're marketing an app to them?
Well, New York and Berlin have a lot in common. There are foodies in both cities. Fashionistas in both cities. You have hipsters. You have the "chic and posh" crowd. Both urbanites are strongly opinionated and unapologetic for having whatever views they share on life. And both are very curious and open to discovery, which is what Amen encourages our users to do. Both are also supportive and very loyal to their local communities. New Yorkers love New York and Berlin and Berliners love Berlin and New York. The two cities are actually quite in sync on many levels.
So what are the stats? How many New Yorkers are using Amen?
It's hard to give you juicy details at this point, because two months in New York is merely a test and taste of what potential the city and user market has... The diversity here and density of population takes a bit more time to fully grasp, realize and analyze what impact a product has here. So far, the response to the concept of Amen was positive, thus an indicator of future potential and popularity.
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