Finding the Balance: The Keys to Viral Growth and Product Success


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 15, 2023

3 min read


Finding the Balance: The Keys to Viral Growth and Product Success


In the fast-paced world of technology and consumer products, achieving viral growth and product success is the ultimate goal for many companies. However, these two concepts may seem unrelated at first glance. In this article, we will explore the common threads between viral growth and product success and uncover the key factors that contribute to both.

The Power of Viral Growth:

When we think of viral growth, YouTube is often one of the first platforms that comes to mind. YouTube's journey to becoming a massive destination was fueled by its viral nature. However, it is essential to note that true viral growth is incredibly rare. Most products struggle to sustain a viral factor over 1 for a meaningful period of time. A viral factor between 0.15 to 0.25 is considered good for consumer internet products, while 0.4 is great, and around 0.7 is outstanding. Understanding the amplification factor, represented by a = 1/(1-v), allows us to calculate the total number of users by multiplying the users acquired through non-viral channels by the amplification factor.

The MAYA Principle:

"The Most Advanced Yet Acceptable Products Win" is a principle that highlights the delicate balance between innovation and familiarity in product design. Designing a product that is too novel can alienate users, while sticking to the conventional may result in a lack of excitement. The ideal design sits between solutions that are completely new and entirely familiar. Apple's iPhone serves as a great example of the MAYA principle in action. The iPhone's industrial design leveraged design continuity from Apple's existing products, making it both advanced and acceptable. The inclusion of intuitive touchscreen technology and the retention of familiar phone functions further enhanced its appeal.

The Evolution of Acceptable Innovation:

Apple's success with the iPhone paved the way for continued exploration of acceptable innovation. The removal of the home button and the shift away from skeuomorphism in iOS 7 were significant changes that tested the boundaries of familiarity. Apple recognized when it had reached sufficient familiarity to make bigger advancements in form. This approach has allowed Apple to maintain a delicate balance between familiarity and innovation. The company's ventures into the Apple Watch and AirPods further demonstrate the market's preference for acceptable yet advanced products.

The Rise of Conversational Interfaces:

In recent years, conversational interfaces have gained significant traction. OpenAI's ChatGPT stands out as a breakthrough in this field. Interestingly, the core technology behind ChatGPT was open to the public since 2020, but it didn't resonate in the same way until it was presented in a conversational chat style. This shift in interface design made the interaction more familiar and approachable for users. By feeding the context of the chat thread to the model with each prompt, the illusion of understanding the flow of conversation was created, increasing the user's margin for error in prompting.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand your viral factor: When developing a product, aim for a sustainable viral factor between 0.15 to 0.25. This range indicates a healthy level of amplification through non-viral channels.
  • 2. Embrace the MAYA principle: Strive to find the balance between innovation and familiarity in your product design. Incorporate familiar elements while pushing the boundaries of advancement.
  • 3. Experiment with conversational interfaces: Consider adopting conversational interfaces to enhance the user experience. Make interactions more approachable by leveraging the familiarity of chat-style conversations.


Viral growth and product success are interconnected in more ways than we realize. By understanding the principles behind viral growth and the importance of the MAYA principle, we can navigate the delicate balance between familiarity and innovation. Incorporating conversational interfaces can also enhance user engagement and satisfaction. Ultimately, our role as product creators is to find the natural equilibrium and tend to the homeostasis of the inherent tension between the familiar and the surprising.

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