Posts Tagged ‘business’

Rethinking Corporate Twitter Accounts

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Twitter is great for networking as it, contrary too all other social networks, allows you to connect and communicate with random strangers with exactly those interests you are after. That’s one of the things that makes Twitter a great tool for business. For one-man companies, it is easy: the company is almost equal to their person and so can be their Twitter account. They can just sneak in a few business related tweets now and than.

For larger operations, there is a catch: Do you follow business accounts? I don’t. If I’m interested in a business I try to find the founder or an important developer related to it. I might follow a business account if I’m a customer, or are really really waiting for them to launch, but other than that? Nope.

Now let’s look at why this is:

  • News from the company itself is obviously commercial. We don’t like to read commercial messages.
  • Without a real person attached to it, it is much harder to identify. Most people I follow are selected on some kind of commonality: maybe they are into design, maybe they are developers or in a start-up. I don’t have anything in common with your company, except if you are the competition or when I’m already your customer.
  • It is hard to tweet regularly. Without day to day stuff to tell about, it is hard to keep something interesting going. It can quickly slide down to the RSS feed level. Without regular tweets you will not be remembered and get the attention you aspired.

So, company accounts on Twitter can’t work?  Yes, they can.   Let’s look at @Kissmetrics. They are obviously commercial, their twitter account is for a service, nothing personal about that. If you scan their time-line,  there is no  cooking, cleaning, traveling or complaining.  Still,  their feed doesn’t feel unpleasant. Although you are aware of their business interest, they provide great content at a fairly high rate.  Let’s break their strategy down a bit:

  • Great content - Their blog posts are high quality, relevant to their niche, without being an advertisement
  • Great linked content – All relevant links, closely related, but not about their product
  • Good retweets – Again relevant links, without much effort to create content.  It does take a knowledgable person, involved in the business to pick out that quality
  • Smart Quotes – It allows them to put out a message on how they operate and their vision, without resorting to sales speak.

All of this results in:

  • Regular tweets, showing up in the timeline frequently
  • Lots of retweets, that further increasing visibility

What it comes down to:  Publish content your customers want, instead of promoting your product.  Finding a good balance between your own content and linked content can reduce effort and improve continuity.

5 Bootstrapped Startup Reality Checks

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

If you’re in a bootstrapped startup,  looking at your bank account probably isn’t the most cheerful experience. You are probably still investing all that comes in and maybe even a bit more. So how do you know that you are still on the right track?

1. Are we there yet? Are you running a profit?  If you don’t know… do your homework and get back here ASAP.  If you are making a profit… why are you even reading this article?

2. Is there a future? So you are not running a profit… but could you?  If you would cut all development and investment related costs  and  would coast with whatever you have right now…  Would there be enough money for you to sustain this operation? If so: you are already investing in making more profit in the future, make sure though that the extra investments really contribute to your goals.

3. Can we make it? If your revenue is not high enough right now, you are walking a thin line. Is there enough money expected to bridge the gap?  Find out when you can get to #2 and sum all losses you expect to make in between.  Do you have that kind of money or can you get it?  This may be the time to adjust your plans,  either cut some costs or get some extra money.

4. Does it matter? What if you would sell everything right now? Would it be enough to cover debts and the income you missed?  If so, maybe it’s good to stop bootstrapping and get some money to prevent this value you’ve created to be wasted.   Keep in mind that you don’t want to wait till the last minute, because if you’re out of options… you are going to be a bargain.

5. Do you love it? Maybe your business isn’t that dependent on money, still, you are investing a lot of time in it, right?  If it’s not worth the money, at least make it worth for yourself.  Is this really the thing you love most to spend all your time on?    If you feel committed to a project you don’t really love anymore,  find someone who can take over,  or change it so that you can love it again.

Idea #3: FocusMe

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Sometimes I have a problem focusing on the work I’m currently doing.  And right at that point it’s very easy to wander and go browse for some news, get your email, etc.      Now the quick solution is:  turn of everything and shut down your internet connection.

It really helps sometimes, but most of the time it doesn’t… Why?  I need internet to work:

  • synchronize code with the SVN repository
  • work on a website that’s on a remote server
  • search for documentation

So what I would really like to have is some  ‘work mode’ tray icon that would block everything except for a few things that I have allowed.   It would be even nicer if I could define different contexts that would allow different websites and connections.

Soon I will write a bit about the extended version of this idea that does a bit more than managing access to websites.

About this series: I believe execution is more important than the initial business idea.   At the same time  I have a lot of those ideas, that will never be executed by a shear lack of time.   That’s why I will start something new on this blog:  I will pitch my ideas here.    If you think it’s a good idea or know a service that already does such a thing, please leave a comment.

Idea #2: Online Brainstorm tool

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Ever tried brainstorming by chat?  You know what happens:  conversation will go into particular details soon and the general picture is forgotten. What I would love to have is a threaded chat where things are ordered by subject in a tree (or mindmap if you like)  so you can easily return to a topic and afterwards the chat log is actually a good and useful overview of your session.

The interface would have a summary tree with markings for active/unfinished/closed topics  and the currently active topic chat in an other pane.     This makes it into some sort of live collaborative mindmapping tool.

Some extras that would be nice:

  • pre-programming your meeting agenda as the structure so you know that you won’t miss an item
  • mobile version
  • From: antirez : @Michielvv about idea #2 maybe also the ability to vote chat messages in real time during a brainstorm automatically removing downvoted.
    – Yes that could be a very nice addition
  • Something that works well with a group of people in front of a beamer

About this series: I believe execution is more important than the initial business idea.   At the same time  I have a lot of those ideas, that will never be executed by a shear lack of time.   That’s why I will start something new on this blog:  I will pitch my ideas here.    If you think it’s a good idea or know a service that already does such a thing, please leave a comment.

Facebook catching on in the Netherlands

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Facebook is catching on everywhere for some time now, but in the Netherlands Hyves is still the  major player.  I had a Facebook profile for some time, mostly for exploring it’s application platform. A lot of people I know have some presence over there for some time. However the last few months I see a change:  people are starting to use it!     People I know are starting to join groups, updating their status and uploading photos. And, very important:  my sister has an account, meaning it is way past the early adoption by tech-interested men.

I believe it’s just a matter of time before  Facebook will become more important than Hyves.   First of all:  most people past 16 have a world outside The Netherlands too.   Furthermore,  Facebook doesn’t look like a highschool project gone-wrong, so you can actually connect with someone above 30 without silently laughing at them.   While at Hyves it really looks very very wrong if a parent or a teacher joins.   So I believe Hyves will probably become  for kids even more than it is now and it’s empire will sink like the previous dutch profile site that seemed unbeatable:  cu2.nl.  (do you even remember it?)

101 Business Ideas

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

I believe execution is more important than the initial business idea.   At the same time  I have a lot of those ideas, that will never be executed by a shear lack of time.   That’s why I will start something new on this blog:  I will pitch my ideas here.    If you think it’s a good idea or know a service that already does such a thing, please leave a comment.

Idea #1:  One-time chat

Do you run a business online and are responsible for customer contacts?  You will probably recognize this:  you are the man-in-the-middle between a customer and a programmer,  continuously mailing things back and forward.  But you can’t just pass the programmer’s email or IM contact, because your customer would bother them to death for the rest of his life.     Wouldn’t it be great if you could just create a one-time conversation on a secret page where both of the programmer and customer can go  and chat?    The chat log could be mailed to both  afterwards.