How Airbnb Got an Audience by Using Craigslist’s NetworkEstimated Reading Time: just 2 min

When starting a business or launching a new product, one of the hardest challenges is having an audience.

One of my favourite techniques to get people to notice and then maybe to follow you/your product is Other People’s Network (OPN).

The concept behind this technique is simple: if someone already build relationships with people that may be in my target, why don’t I harness them in order to get their audience to know me?

In other words: Other People’s Networks allow you to build an audience or acquire customers simply by figuring out how to use the networks others have built.

Therefore, the basis for OPN is to:

  • find where I can find my target Buyer Personas
  • use someone else’s network for promoting and selling a product/service.

One of the biggest business cases of a successful OPN is Airbnb.

A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌ is a company based in San Francisco and it is one of the most famous online marketplace and hospitality service in the world.

The company does not own any of the real estate listings but, as a broker, it receives commissions from every booking.

The initial concept of the company was created by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia in October 2007 during the Industrial Design Conference held by Industrial Designers Society of America.

To pay the rent for their loft in San Francisco, they offered short-term living quarters, breakfast and a unique business networking opportunity for attendees who were not able to book a hotel during that period.

The idea worked so, together with Nathan Blecharczyk, they decided to launch the Airbedandbreakfast.com website in August 2018.

To raise enough money to sustain their business, Airbnb sold cereal boxes for Barack Obama and John McCain.

They sold 800 boxes at $40 each, netting $30,000 in funding for the company.

The concept of the business was great, but the company was missing an audience on its website. At the same time, Airbnb was clearly facing a lack of funds for a marketing campaign that could bring the service to the attention of the public at least in the US market.

Therefore, the co-founders needed an idea and they noticed an opportunity in accessing to Craiglist audience.

Craigslist is an advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, houses, items wanted, services, gigs, discussion forums and much more.

In 2008, Craiglist was one of the first rated websites with more than 40 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone and more than 80 million new classified advertisements each month.

Airbnb started posting its announces on Craiglist gaining visibility and being able to drive traffic to its website because the detail of the posts was available by clicking a link that redirected the users to airbnb.com.

Suddenly and with very little investment made, Airbnb had an audience and the quality of the service did the rest.

In March 2009, due to the increasing popularity of the service, the site’s content expanded from air beds and shared spaces to a variety of properties including entire homes and apartments, private rooms, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties.

The success of this initiative brought the company to exponential growth and, in 2017, Airbnb hit:

  • $2.6 billion in Revenues
  • $450 million in Operating Income
  • $93 million in Net Income
  • Around 3.100 of employees
Nicola Zaffonato Administrator

Business Strategy | Product Marketing | Executive Master eCommerce Management | Business Innovation Master | MSc

I am driven by my personal growth and of people/contexts that surround me.

I followed a professional path in Valentino Fashion Group and Luxottica during which, thanks to the ability to understand different businesses and interests, I was able to succeed in Operations, Merchandising and Retail.

These organizations have exploited my ability to mediate and translate needs/constraints into practice, assigning me to Project Management roles.

Luxottica relied on my ability to analyze, to anticipate things and to imagine/implement solutions by appointing me in Supply Chain Management department and assigning me to the Product Management of IoT solutions for Anti-counterfeiting and Retail digitalization.

During this professional path, I also developed my leadership by managing teams to build Processes, Organizations, Systems and Governance Tools.

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