Positive Feedback Loops

Positive Feedback Loops


Positive Feedback Loops (PFLs) are the driving force behind websites.

A PFL is when success leads to more success. PFLs can take many forms, and in this article I’ll give some examples.

A Marketplace

The classic example of PFLs is an online marketplace. As more sellers list products for sale, buyers are more incentivised to shop there, which in turn drives sales and attracts more sellers.

The challenge is kickstarting marketplaces, because buyers won’t be attracted until sellers are posting items for sale on the website. The best way to get around this problem is by ‘faking’ the seller side of the equation. The founders of the marketplace can list their own items on there to entice early buyers.

A Podcast

I was involved with a podcast a few years ago which interviewed successful designers, entrepreneurs, and technologists. When it started we would interview anyone we could in our network. They were great individuals, and no disrepect is meant, but they weren’t as widely known as some of the people we interviewed later on.

Each time we approached someone about being interviewed, we had the leverage of all of the existing people we’d interviewed. A potential interviewee would visit our website, hopefully be impressed by the people we’d previously interviewed, and come on the show.

Within a year, we were interviewing some seriously high profile people.

Not only did it grow in terms of getting higher and higher profile people, but it also grew in terms of SEO juice. Each person we interviewed had a page on the podcast’s website which had links back to their own website, twitter feed etc. In turn, they would usually link to our website, and tweet about the show. So the podcast’s website was building up all of these high quality inbound links. And when a new person was approached about being on the show, they might be motivated by getting a link from our website which was accumulating all of this SEO juice, and in turn would link back … and so the cycle of improved SEO presence continued.