Tim recently pointed me in the direction of a Facebook group called Secret London. It currently has 188k members. This isn’t entirely surprising until you realise that it was only created 2 weeks ago. The grou is for “… Londoners to inspire Londoners by sharing the secrets of the city”. There’s a very nice London-for-Londoners feel to it. Of course there’s a load of spam but the group’s creator Tiffany Philippou is working hard to keep it clean. Tiffany is now crowdsourcing the development and design of a new site from a temporary blog.
I’ve been thinking about why it has become so successful so quickly, especially considering the enormous glut of travel-related sites that exist. For me there are four things that make it work.
Secrets want to be shared, by virtue of the fact that they are not supposed to be. People love to share secrets. We all love to tell others about a great pub with a huge log fire and the best Toad in the Hole in London, the best ice-cream, the best spot in Greenwich park for a drunken lazy Sunday. And even more, we love to share things that say something about who we are.
The convenience of Facebook
People are spending more and more time simply staying within Facebook. And it’s just too easy to share and join groups. It’s becoming a little world of content, like a vortex.
At first thought you assume that Facebook isn’t the ideal platform for Secret London. It would be difficult to archive the secrets and you have to scroll through a lot of crap to find the good stuff. But perhaps that is its charm. When you scroll through the comments and the responses, there’s is a lot of dross but you do come across stuff that inspires you. Most travel sites assume that you have the first clue what you want to do. You have to initiate your discovery by clicking on a primary navigation item or think of a search terms to enter. It’s a tiny but onerous little chore and you don’t know how the site is going to react, it might disappoint. But with a stream of random secrets, it’s like poring through an vintage shop and finding a little gem that you love, but nobody else cares about.
Simply put, it’s not about discovery, it’s about inspiration.
Finally, Tiffany is crowdsourcing the design and development of a new site as well as a logo. She is also releasing the content under a Creative Commons license. It feels as close as we can currently get to a shared ownership of something.
I’d be fascinated to see what else you think might have contributed to the success of Secret London.