Last July, Bananity took to Twitter to announce that the social networking service was closing to users. Then, in December, the curtain was brought down on the project when faced with the impossible task of revamping the approach without a (major) investment round. Now that the project has closed, it’s time to take stock and share my takeaways from the experience.
First and foremost, creating Bananity was an incredibly enriching adventure. The lightning-fast world of online social media outspeeds all other industries. The term ‘innovation’ is rendered void of meaning when everyone “innovates at the same time.” Quite often, it turns out that your amazing idea was already implemented by seven of your competitors a year ago – and they all discarded it because it didn’t work.
Bananity also taught me the power of the verb “to pivot.” It might be the basis of the “LEAN Start-Up” method, but you don’t realize just how important it is until you’re in the thick of it. Bananity was built as an app where users could “love” or “hate” any given concept, and brought in figures that made us believe in the project. However, companies did not feel comfortable getting behind a network where users could “hate them.” That meant that we had to “pivot” towards something lighter, where users could “follow” concepts. The problem with that, though, was that the project lost its main appeal. For the following stage, we offered customized recommendations, based on the concepts that each user followed or hated/loved. And that’s when we stumbled upon something that kicked up a dust: put all that technology in the hands of the brands to help them improve their experience with content generated by their users. In other words, turn Bananity into a new “UGC” (user-generated content) tool. (Although this would have required a major round of investments for development.)
Bananity also taught me heaps about user behaviour. Specifically, what we do and why we do what we do when we use social media. What creates a “lock-in”? Why do so many users show an unexpected type of behaviour? And why do so many others behave in a completely different manner? The world of social media is still a mystery, and very few have managed to understand it. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting. By analyzing data, manually or using tech tools, we attempt to penetrate all these patterns and try to understand it all. But at the end of the day, the user leaves us behind and opens up new paths.
Last but not least, none of the members of this adventure will ever forget what it felt like to open the browser, go to Bananity and check out what was “hot” to see what was going on and what we could learn from it. That feeling was magical; it’s probably the best memory ever. Oh, and the name. The name was amazing too. Bananity. As brilliant as it was meaningless. Long live Bananity.