As a startup, the only way to tell if anyone truly cares is if you disappear. You don’t need to disappear for long, but if your service or product is unavailable for a period of time and users or clients get upset or complain, then you know they care.
Think about Twitter. When it used to go down for a few hours (it doesn’t really do that anymore) people would freak the f out. People really care about Twitter.
So when building a business or thinking about the company you work for, make sure you are working on something that people, clients, etc would care about if it would disappear. This is another way to think about building something people want/love.
I’ve been thinking about tools I use everyday and wondered how they stacked up to others.
Here is what I use:
1) Twitter (news)
2) Facebook (distribution of my blog and keeping up with friends)
3) LinkedIn (getting updates on who moved jobs, looking up people, connecting with others)
5) Google Docs (I rarely use Microsoft Word or Excel- only if I’m in a spot with no internet)
6) Tumblr (post my blog on Tumblr)
7) Gmail and Gchat (to email and chat)
8) Instagram (when I take photos)
9) Foursquare (using Explore to find places around me or to let friends know where I am)
10) Citibank and American Express (check on my finances)
11) Reddit and Hacker News (I’m mostly a lurker, but peruse both each day)
12) Dwolla (I work there and I pay people back with Dwolla)
13) Eventbrite (I typically have an event going on, so I check Eventbrite frequently)
14) Verizon, Time Warner, Con Edison (check my bills almost daily)
15) Games: Angry Birds, Derby Jackpot (Angry Birds played typically in the subway if no internet)
16) Spotify (I listen at my desk and with mobile app- easily worth the $10 a month)
17) Brewster (I have found it to be a much better address book)
18) Dropbox (sharing files and such)
I’m sure I am missing a few, but that is a good high level overview.
What am I missing? What do you use that is awesome and you can’t live without?
Leave it in the comments below.
I’ve been using Twitter Search more and more to find links, clips, info. I’m not sure if this is a new trend others are seeing as well.
I was looking for the clip of Obama talking to his staff to show my wife and I couldn’t find it on Google (I searched “Obama” “staff” “video” “2012”)- at least not the one I was looking for- it kept showing CBS or NBC talking about the video I was looking for. Then I went to Twitter and clicked Search using “Obama” and “staff” as keywords. It was the top result.
This is probably scary for Google. I also see a similar trend for product searches. I don’t search Google for products, I search Amazon.
Google currently has a monopoly on general information searches, but if you think the search game is completely over, you are dead wrong.
I have a various methods for distribution of the content I produce.
My gchat status, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Hacker News, Reddit, and more.
One thing I have learned about getting some extra distribution is that if you @ mention someone when you tweet it out, you have a high probability of having them retweet it, and subsequently more eyeballs will see your content.
That doesn’t mean you should @ mention random people with lots of followers hoping they will read it and RT. You should only @ mention people who are relevant to the piece.
I’ve done this both successfully and unsuccessfully before.
Success has come when there were either one or two people or companies @ mentioned that were highly relevant (two cases for me were: 1. @ mentioning Dave McClure on an post about great tech writers, and 2. @ mentioning Warby Parker in my article about them for Forbes).
Failure has come when I @ mention too many people, some of them not being super relevant to my post (earlier writing days).
Bottom line: If you are a relatively unknown tech blogger, a very valuable method to gain some initial traction is @ mentioning one or two people who are either relevant or included in the piece you are posting.
There are few things I hate more than long emails. I used to be guilty of sending long emails myself, typically for blind reach outs that amounted to nothing. I thought I had to send the recipient everything they needed to make a decision about whether they wanted to work with me. That meant sending everything from who I am, what I am offering (company, product, etc.), everything about the offering, my cousin’s uncle’s life bio, their dog’s best friends, and everything else that was totally irrelevant. See the problem with the reach out and long email, was that I thought this was my only shot to get there undivided attention. An email. The thing I didn’t realize until later was that the long email was lightly glanced at and then discarded, whereas if I would have kept my blind reach out email short and to the point, they would have read the entire thing.
I learned (this is now going back 3-4 years) that the goal of the blind reach out email is to pique their interest enough to respond. You aren’t going to close that deal on the blind reach out, the best end result is a response for more information. So now if you change your strategy based on this newfound knowledge, a short email that is intriguing is so much more effective then sending a laundry list of things about you and your offering. If they aren’t going to respond to your well put together five-sentence email, then they aren’t going to respond to anything.
There are instances where long emails make sense, but they are when you know the person you are emailing and you have broken it down with 1) 2) 3) or bolded and bulleted pieces of it.
While on the topic of long emails, what’s with long twitter bios?
Maybe it’s not a new trend, but a long twitter bio tells me two things about you. One is that you don’t know how to concisely express yourself. Two is that you probably don’t really do anything. Because anyone that is actually doing, co-founding, contributing, etc., to five or more things (at once) is probably not doing any of them well.
I recently saw a bio of someone who was the co-founder of three companies (all active), board member of two more, organizer of four events, and a few more things. Somehow he/she fit it all in their Twitter bio. I couldn’t control myself from thinking they were full of shit. If you want to be taken seriously, cut your bio to 1-3 sentences (or fragments). It should say what you are currently doing, maybe what you did before (listed not in detail), and maybe one more thing. For example, “Director of marketing at Tumblr. Previously at Yelp and Foursquare. Lover of pizza.” Short, cute, and concise.
Bottom line: If there is one skill you should learn in the business world it is keeping your communications to others, short, effective, and powerful. Longer doesn’t mean more powerful. Shorter and more substance can be the most powerful weapon at your disposal. Wield it wisely.
I have been playing with promoted tweets for the past two weeks and have some thoughts about my experience:
- I was really excited to get access to them and allocated some money to play around with my tweets for a month. I decided I was going to spend $250-300 for 30 days and see what would come about.
- I decided to use promoted accounts and promoted tweets allocating $5 per each per day.
- For promoted accounts I’m paying between 50 cents to $2.50 for each new follower and could expect between 6-7 new followers a day.
- For promoted tweets I’m paying between 50 cents to $1.50 per click and could expect between 7 and 8 clicks a day.
- In 10 days I’ve spent $112.
- For promoted accounts I’ve had 12.2k impressions and 26 followers, a 0.21% click rate.
- For promoted tweets I’ve had 4,216 impressions and 76 clicks, a 1.80% click rate.
- I originally was targeting the entire USA. But I honed down target locations to NY, SF, LA, Seattle, Boston, CT, DSM, NO, Austin, Detroit, Chicago, and Sacramento.
What I like:
- That I can promote my blog posts and get extra eyeballs on them.
- That I can control the location of my promoted tweets.
- That I get detailed stats on my promoted tweets (and know which ones perform better).
- That I can control which tweets I promote.
- That they show me my stats and conversion in my dashboard.
What I don’t like:
- I think my conversion for promoted accounts is pretty low. I don’t think I’m the right account type for promoted accounts.
- That I don’t know who is clicking or following me from my promoted accounts. It would be nice to know if the people clicking on the promoted tweets/accounts were actually worth paying for.
- That it grabs any tweet I tweet out and starts promoting it. This forces me to go in and manually stop promoting it. For example, one of my regular tweets was promoted and there were lots of clicks and I was paying for it instead of for my blog posts. It was a funny tweet, but I wasn’t looking to “promote” it. I really only want to promote my blog posts so I wish I didn’t have to manage it that deeply.
- That I can’t get more information about where these impressions are. I think it’s super valuable if I was showing up in someone like Fred Wilson or Ben Horowitz’s feed. But I have no idea where these impressions are. Even a general idea (not person specific) would suffice.
Final Thoughts: I am enjoying my experiment and plan to re-evaluate after 30 days. I’m actually going to be switching up the gameplan a bit. I’m going to stop doing promoted accounts and double down on promoted tweets. So instead of $5 for each per day, I’m going to do $10 a day for promoted tweets and focus on getting more distribution for my blog posts.
Have you used promoted tweets or accounts? Any feedback?
Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/MLAyEA.
Let me know your thoughts!
I was chatting with a recent MBA graduate this past week about the options available after school. This individual has a ton of offers and is a very qualified startup person. The longer we talked the more I thought about how many people are not working on things that matter.
There is a quote going around that goes something like this: ‘It’s sad that the brightest minds of our generation are trying to figure out how to get you to click on more ads” (source).
When I was chatting with Dwolla about coming on board, one thing that really stuck out was when Jordan Lampe, the awesome head of communications at the big D, said something along the lines of that if Dwolla is successful it will change the economy as we know it. Wow. That idea stuck with me and really motivates me every day to work my hardest. I want to see this idea to fruition. This stuff really matters.
Companies like Skillshare (education), SpaceX (space travel), Twitter (real-time communication/news) really matter. Companies that don’t have huge visions and aren’t shooting for the sky really are not worth joining.
Bottom line: If you are joining or working for a company, ask yourself if the company reached it’s full-potential, would it fundamentally change the world? If so, keep at it. If not, find something else you are passionate about that actually matters.
I used to be wary of trying new things. I didn’t join Facebook and Twitter until 2010. I also didn’t get an iPhone till 2012. I had been, historically, a pretty late adopter on the technology side of things. I’ve been trying to change that the last two years.
Bijan Sabet from Spark Capital is a notorious early-adopter. Everything from Instagram, foursquare, Tumblr, and others, he was pretty early on the platform. This is why he has become an investor of many of them. He uses the platform early and really tries to understand how the community forms.
I think that once a week we should all try out a new service, use a product offering, immerse ourselves in a new community. It doesn’t take much time and you will probably, in aggregate, gain a ton of utility.
What should I try this week?
OAuth which stands for open authorization, has become quite popular in the past few years. Most regular consumers use it every day and don’t really know that they are. Whenever you go to a website and you click “Login with Facebook” or “Login with Twitter” you are using OAuth. Websites like Pinterest, Foursquare, Skillshare, and others use various one-click sign-in capability.
I like OAuth. Let me rephrase that, I like OAuth for sites that I enjoy and trust. For example, I love Skillshare. I use FB Oauth to sign in. I linked up my Twitter, FB, LinkedIn to better improve my profile. It would be a pain to have to recreate my profile for every new site I join. The ones I like, I love connecting via OAuth.
OAuth allows me to share my private resources (e.g. photos, videos, contact lists) stored on one site (usually FB or Twitter) with another site without having to hand out my info to the new site.
The one issue with OAuth is allowing it for sites I don’t like or when sites wants more permissions than I am comfortable accepting. I’m not sure where, but I remember seeing a study showing some data around the more permissions asked for the higher chance of the user bailing. I think each extra permission added had a drop off of 20%.
Bottom line: If I join a site that I enjoy and plan to use for a long time, I want to Oauth. If it isn’t a site I like or they ask for too many permissions, I think that Oauth is annoying and don’t like to accept.
There are many articles about dealing with press out there, not so many around dealing with the actual release.
When your company has something to announce to the public, the best thing to do is put together a company blog post that outlines exactly how you would like the news to be viewed and consumed by the outside world.
Once you have the blog post ready it is time to start talking to various outlets (which outlet(s) depends on if it is something embargoed or exclusive). You should understand which audience you are trying to reach. Investors? Developers? Consumers? Some other demographic? Then you should match the outlet(s) with the proper demographic you are trying to reach. This article can tell you more info on that.
I’ll skip the part about getting in front of the press writers and jump to the discussion you should be having.
You should have your talking points and things you’d like to get across in the conversation. Tell your story, product release, etc. to the journalist. Explain to them why they and their readership should care. Once they have committed to covering the news, you should share with them a password protected unpublished blog post. You should do this for a few reasons:
1) They can refer to it when they are writing up their piece if they don’t catch something or you don’t have enough time to give them the entire story on the phone/in-person.
2) Journalists write many stories a day while covering their respective beat. You are making their lives easier by assisting them in covering you (taking down any barriers for them is key).
3) You can publish the post and then let them link to your company, driving traffic to you and your news.
Announcing the news via a company blog post is the best practice when releasing press. It gives the company control of how they would like the news to be covered.
Having a solid digital identity is more important now than it has ever been. I’m not just talking about your self-worth. It’s crucial for job opportunities and 21st century due diligence (i.e. google search). You NEED to have a good digital identity. Here are 5 tips to improve whatever you are currently doing:
1. Make your Twitter legit
- Switch your Twitter account to @firstname+lastname or @initials.
- Add a short bio to your profile- a brief and high level overview (long bios are tough on the eyes and people may think you don’t really do anything).
- Start following people/things that are in your industry (or in the industry you want to be in). Remember! Twitter is an interest network, not a social network.
- Start tweeting/sharing news articles that you find interesting. BE ACTIVE! Share at least one article a day. @ reply people who tweet interesting things. Be part of the conversation!
2. Acquiring websites
- Pick up or buy the following websites:
YourFullName.tumblr.com (get it on tumblr.com)
- Buy them for 2 or 5 years- you will get a better deal.
3. Create an About Me page
- Go to about.me and grab about.me/firstname+lastname.
- Link up all your accounts and add a short bio.
- Add a photo of yourself and background.
- Add the link to your signature on every email you send (you can access this in the setting for your email).
4. Work on your blog
- Now that you have picked up your Tumblr account you should start thinking about blog post ideas.
- Make a draft every time you have an idea but also spend time thinking of a theme.
- The theme could be lessons learned, tips on x, y, and z, how you are unique/different, etc.
- Decide how frequently you want to blog. Once a day, week, month, etc. Stick to it.
5. Go to events (not really digital, but kind of)
- Sign up for Charlie O’Donnell’s mailing list, General Assembly, and Gary’s Guide to know what events are coming up.
- Share the events with your friends/followers and be someone “in the know.”
This list was originally made for someone close to me that wants to get back in the game, but can be applied to anyone looking to improve their digital identity.
I refuse to go over 450 followers on Twitter. I was at 520 and it started getting really noisy.
Maybe I am not following the right people- but I have noticed that 450 or lower has been a good stream of news to my liking.
So now whenever I add a new follower, I remove an old one (usually someone who is not tweeting often).
It has worked out pretty well.
I’d love for a service that tells me about what I click on from who I follow and who doesn’t tweet (so I can remove them). Kind of like a management tool for Twitter.
Does this exist?
At some point in your professional career you will want/need to get in front of someone who you don’t know.
There are a variety of methods and strategies that work. In the end, it’s really all about personal preference.
1) Getting a warm introduction
Look on your LinkedIN, Hashable, FB, Twitter and other social networks to see which of your friends or colleagues are connected to the person who you are trying to get in front of. Reach out to your friend and explain why you want to speak with this person. If there is any merit (and they are close enough to them) they will typically make a warm introduction.
2) Go to an event where they will be
Whether it is a conference or a networking event, get a ticket and attend. If they are on a panel, wait until it is over and go and introduce yourself. If they are just attending (and the list of attendees is public information), go find them and introduce yourself.
3) Email them
Most email addresses can be easily found online. If you can’t find the email address, look for how the email structure works for other people in the company (i.e. First Name@xxxx.com, First Initial.Last Name@xxxx.com, First Name.Last Name@xxxx.com, etc…).
Once you obtain the email address, put together a rough draft of what you want to tell them. Most people won’t read more than a few sentences (even if they know you), so make sure you make each word count!
If you send a block of text, as opposed to sending something that is short and to the point, your email probably won’t receive a response. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Try this great personal policy- http://five.sentenc.es.
Remember: you are pitching yourself first. People respond to emails from people they either know or like. Considering they don’t know you, make them like you. Followed by whatever you are working on/reaching out to them about.
4) Tweet at them
You have 140 characters. Make them count. Make sure you catch their attention and make them want to respond to find out more.
5) Call them
Get on the phone and call them. Every company has a telephone number. Ask for the person you want to speak with and give it your all.
Whichever you choose, make sure you are brief and to the point. You will typically have one shot, so make the most of it.
I opened my Twitter account on 10/6/10. This is roughly 4 years+ after the first tweet on 3/1/06.
Why am I so late to the game and what made me join Twitter now?
I think there is a big misconception going on about what Twitter does and what it is “supposed” to be used for. When I tell my non-tech friends that I am on Twitter they say “Are you telling people you are going #1 or #2?” What they fail to understand is that Twitter is really a news sharing and curation website.
I have a bunch of favorite websites and writers. Before I joined Twitter I would go to ESPN, Gawker (yes, I love it), TechCrunch, SAI, Fred Wilson’s blog, Mark Suster’s blog, etc on a daily basis. Now I have all that fragmented news come to me, perfectly sorted out by the people I follow and like. This ranges from sports analysts to seed stage VC guys.
I wondered why my boss, @MSG, always knew about something before I did. I would send him something cool, I had just seen, and he would tell me he had seen it two weeks ago.
I have set my wife up with an account to follow the top social workers and psychologists on Twitter. This will allow her to find out what they are reading, seeing and share it with her class in NYU’s MSW program.
I have set my father up with an account to follow the top traders on Twitter. This will help him get an edge over people who don’t use it.
So my advice to everyone is go out and set up an account. You don’t need to actually “Tweet,” rather only follow things and people that are interesting to you (and your field). In the age of information, news is the most valuable asset and using Twitter will surely give you an edge in whatever you are working on.