Simply put, a network effect occurs when a product or service becomes more valuable to its users as more people use it (e.g., a phone, a social network, a smart app). Your phone is not very valuable if you can only contact 5 people; however, it becomes far more valuable if you can contact 500 people or 500 million people. The same principle applies to social network -- it's the reason why there are so few successful social networks.
However, in order to have a platform that provides network effects, the platform generally requires a relatively standardized interface to ensure "network compatibility." Whether it's your telephone or your social network, to ensure compatibility, your interface is fairly standardized. You generally will plug your phone into a network or your content (e.g., text, photos, videos) into a social network and then you're off to the races. There is nothing for your build -- there is simply something for you to get.
When more brands sign-up to list their products, services, promotions, events, etc. on their smart apps, then more consumers will show up to see what they might discover. As more consumers show it to discover more, then more brands will sign-up to reach those consumers and the network effects flywheel begins to move. Stated simply, the value increases as more users (e.g., brands, consumers) join the network.
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