Thursday, December 23, 2010

Take that, coupon codes

 {From the XKCD Blog; click image to visit it}

It's not a good feeling...when a form asks you for an (optional) coupon code and you don't have one. You now know you could have got something for cheaper than you will be paying. Is "pre purchase dissonance" an accurate descriptor?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are American Spas Sparse on Facebook? [INFOGRAPHIC]

{Spas & Salons on Facebook: please click image to open full size version}


Friday, December 17, 2010

Boston's Spas and Salons need a botox boost on Social Media

With less than 1% of its spas & salons on Social Media, it's time Boston got more social...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chicago Spas get Chic on Social Media

Here's and overview of what Chicago's spas and salons are doing on Social Media

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Four Horsemen of the new Internet

We strongly recommend that you read Steven Carpenter's article on TechCrunch. It's longer than your average TechCrunch article, but it is also a whole lot more insightful (than your average TC article)

It was reassuring to see that Eyes And Feet focuses on what Steven calls the "Four Horsemen" of the internet; the four being Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare & Groupon.

We've taken the liberty of reproducing some charts from the article (TechCrunch / Steven, if you have a problem with this, please tell us; we assume that it is OK since we have attributed it all to you?)

On the quality & nature of interactions:


On the biggest brands on each network:

Facebook conquering the social world.

See the first map and then the last (scroll down). Talk about juggernauts!

World Map of Social Networks

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spas & Salons in San Francisco - Social media m(e)assage?

As expected, a few of San Francisco's spas and salons are active on social media. Lots more are yet to start, but as we keep saying - it's still early days.

Here's an overview of those pioneers who're sending a massage out to their competitors.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Boston cafes have to wake up and smell the coffee

Boston is certainly one of the most social cities in the US, but with only 4% of their restaurants and cafes on facebook and an even lesser percentage on twitter, they seem way behind other US cities.

Here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.

You might also want to see
How social are Restaurants and Cafes on Facebook.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

San Jose loves its "Chips"

How social is this silicon valley hotbed when it comes to its restaurants and cafes ?

Here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.


View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Using Google Maps to get to China? Try the breast-stroke.

I came across this amusing snippet on Facebook today - especially relevant to those amongst us who blindly rely on technology...

Go to Google Maps, click on 'Get Directions', type Taiwan and China in the From and To boxes, and click on the 'Get Directions' button. Here's what your screen probably looks like:



Now, scroll down to Step 24...


That's a 165 km swim - about 5 times the English Channel swims we hear about! Good luck with that.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

What happens in Vegas...gets posted on Facebook!

Over 40 Million people visit the strip every year to gamble, eat, drink, socialize and party at Vegas' bars & clubs. Here's how these 'happening places' perform on facebook, twitter, groupon and foursquare.

You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.

View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Dine at Miami's hot social Beaches

The beaches along Miami's famous coast line play host to a variety of interesting restaurants & cafes. But, how do they do when it comes to the internet and social media?

From our continuing "Social Media Habits" series...
(You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel)


View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Seattle needs more social media in its coffee

Seattle, known for its huge coffee consumption has over 3700* restaurants and cafes all around the city.
With so many coffee enthusiasts, how does the home of Starbucks score when it comes to facebook, twitter, groupon, and foursquare.

Well, here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.


View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.
*According to Yelp

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Social Life of New York's Bars & Clubs

Ever wondered what bars and clubs in New York are doing on Facebook, Twitter, Groupon & Foursquare?

Well, here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see more presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.



View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Cheers! Infographic on Social media habits of Bars & Clubs

Our last infographic on Restaurants & Cafes stirred up some interesting conversations.
Here's another one, this time on Bars & Clubs. And coming soon is the third of this series, on Spas & Salons. Any ideas on what image we should use for that one?


(click on the image to enlarge; feel free to download the original image and share)


On picking and choosing events



I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting entrepreneurs in the last few weeks. A few of them asked me why we chose to apply to the Mini Seedcamp in Singapore. This post is a long answer to that question...

Like many other startups, we enjoy abundance. An abundance of optimism, enthusiasm, and joy in building our company and product.And like all other startups, we also suffer from scarcity - a scarcity of resources, primarily talent (we always need more and more talented people) and money (a simpler problem). Most importantly, we suffer from scarcity of TIME.

Irrespective of how many hands you have on deck, the 'To Do' lists are always longer than a pragmatic mind would allow, and we happily keep adding to feature lists that are already buckling under their own weight.

In such a scenario where time is immensely precious, attending an event is an absolute luxury. And, there are so many startup events these days that someone rightfully said "there seem to be more people wanting to mentor companies than companies wanting mentorship"



So, why then, did we choose to attend Mini Seedcamp Singapore?  

Especially when the event is a couple of timezones away!

Especially when it's a 'Mini' event!

Two simple reasons - endorsement and endgame. Hopefully, this rationale may be of use to other startups considering Seedcamp (Seedcamp Mumbai is on December 4th, BTW) or similar events

1) Endorsement
We didn't know of Seedcamp till 2 weeks before we applied. A chance question to Sarah Lacy (TechCrunch) and Fred Wilson (AVC/Union Square) got the ball rolling (here's how that happened). Needless to say, this was a huge factor - both these well known people (a) being familiar with Seedcamp and (b) recommending it strongly to non US startups. I also thought it serendipitous that this happened just a few days before the close of entries to Seedcamp Singapore. And then, while we were mulling over the Seedcamp application, this article appeared on TechCrunch. More serendipity!

[Side Note: you must read this nice article on the role of serendipity in life, especially in the context of startups]

2) Endgame
Yes, events are nice. You meet interesting people, have fun, get some good (and some random) inputs, and often come back with a high-especially if you win (Shameless Plug: we won the Mini Seedcamp at Singapore). Remember, all of this, the ego gratification included, is at the cost of 'expensive time' for a startup.

There has to be a more tangible payout to make it worth your time.

I believe Seedcamp offers this in the form of the Seedcamp London event that winners (of Mini Seedcamps) are eligible to attend. At the last 'Seedcamp Week' event that happened in September, we had the benefit of seeing how the Seedcamp brand was perceived by investors and media. It was impressive. While we still don't know yet for sure, I believe that being at Seedcamp London (sometime in Jan 2011) will give us a lot of exposure to intelligent people, potential investors, and some media coverage. Needless to say, that means a lot to any startup.

So, these were the reasons we chose to attend the Mini Seedcamp in Singapore. In retrospect, if I'd known that there was a similar event happening closer home, we'd probably have skipped attending Singapore and applied to Mumbai instead. But then, we can't complain!

And you know my penchant for ascribing things to serendipity :-)

To sum up, all those of you in India who asked me about Seedcamp, I suggest you apply to Seedcamp Mumbai right away (the last date is Nov 21st). Feel free to ping me if you need any more inputs.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

Image courtesy: Flickr | Creative Commons

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Houston, we have a solution

How social are Houston's Bars & Clubs?

Here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see a bunch of presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hacking an event with an iron, an inkjet printer, and $63

Two completed T Shirts and one transfer in progress

Last week, we presented at Unpluggd, an event for selected startups to showcase their stuff. At the end of our presentation, we encouraged people to tweet about @eyesandfeet (with the event hashtag #unpluggd2). We've promised 10 lucky winners their own custom QR code T-Shirts.

This could be yours - in more ways than one

Some of you may know of our fascination for QR codes. Wearing a QR code enabled T-Shirt to an event and promising people a chance to win their own is an interesting (and inexpensive) way to build some buzz.

We're now sifting through the entries to identify the winners, each of whom will be encouraged to give us 250 'custom' characters of text they'd like their QR code to carry. This will then be converted to a QR code, printed on to T-Shirt transfer paper (along with the Eyes And Feet logo, as shown below), ironed on to a T-Shirt in their chosen size, and shipped to them.


Multi-purpose design: besides your own custom QR code, the design helps identify your Eyes and Feet.
Especially useful if you need to be carried out of a bar.

Our original idea was to select a few winners at the event and print/iron/transfer/deliver their T Shirts before the event got over. We'd even carried our inkjet printer and iron - drove them all of 250 miles to the event.

Unfortunately, we were amongst the last to present so there wasn't much time to do our "Iron Man" impersonation. Nevertheless...

Total cost: some effort, electricity, printer ink, and $63 ($50 for T Shirts, $3 for T Shirt transfer paper, $10 for courier charges)

Buzz Value: Priceless

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Oktoberfest

October's been a great month for us at Eyes And Feet -we launched our private beta, signed up over 500 pre-registrations, and won a couple of accolades too...

On October 5th, we were one of 20 startups showcasing our product(s) at Seedcamp Singapore. Overall, it was a great experience, and to top it all, we were one of the 3 winners who go on to participate at Seedcamp Week in London in Jan 2011. Here's Seedcamp's coverage of the event, and a pic of us grinning from ear to ear on being declared winners (pic taken at Techventure 2010 which was happening in Singapore at the same time, and graciously invited Seedcamp attendees too)



On October 30th, we participated at Unpluggd, a startup event where 10 selected startups presented their products. We were delighted to win the audience vote (very interesting voting mechanism) at the event. We're still playing with the interesting Android tablet we won:



And next week, we're presenting at the Emerge Forum's Product Launchpad Showcase at the NASSCOM Product Conclave.

For now, it's back to work :-)

.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Social Media Habits of Bars & Clubs in Los Angeles

Here's another one from our new "Social Media Habits" series.
You can see a bunch of presentations like this one on our SlideShare channel.


View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Want tons of twitter followers? Don't tweet a word. Seriously.

 
Zombie accounts - More proof that size doesn't matter on Twitter!

If you've been with us for a while you may remember our post on the madness behind accumulating twitter followers & facebook fans.

Cut to the Eyes And Feet social media application. The user interface is peppered with factoids - world changing pieces of  information like "@Beyonce has almost a million followers on twitter and she hasn't tweeted even once". We assumed @Beyonce was an outlier, till...

Today!

We (@eyesandfeet) followed someone on Twitter. Thereafter, Twitter recommended that we follow a few other people, one amongst whom was @MrSocial. We were tempted to join 43,000 others in following this 'person' whose bio reads "marketing guru (hate that word) turned social media expert (that word too), entrepreneur, big thinker,..."

Till...

I found out that @MrSocial has never tweeted - not even once.

Curious, we checked out Followerwonk to see if there were any other such 'social media experts' (we searched bios for "social media") who'd never tweeted but had tons (over 10,000) of  followers.

We found five others, besides @MrSocial. Here they are:


@UrbanDecorSue - 17,738 followers
@PCS_CLUB - 17,212 followers
@demiwood - 16,737 followers
@karasmamedia - 16,719 followers
@social_mediax - 10,463 followers

Some of them have even made the effort to customize their twitter page background.

Any ideas about what's going on? Please reply in the comments.


Image: Flickr | Creative Commons | Mush2274

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our first Press Release


We took the easy way out on the "why issue a press release when you have a blog" debate...

Do both!

So here's our first release - on PR Web. The full text is reproduced below:

 
Social Media Radar for Restaurants
& Local Businesses launches Private Beta


Summary: Eyes And Feet, a web application that's available at http://www.eyesandfeet.com, has launched their private beta program. The application focuses on helping local businesses like restaurants, clubs & spas understand and use social media like Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare. With the only social media activity database of its kind, EyesAndFeet helps a local business SEE what its peers are doing, and thereafter DO something social of its own.

New York (PR Web) October 20, 2010 - Eyes And Feet is NOT yet a leading social media application. That’s scarcely surprising considering that they just launched a private beta of their web application to help local businesses understand and use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other social media and related tools!

The team behind the application analyses, filters and curates through over 20 million data records to create what it believes to be the most comprehensive database of local businesses’ social media activity. The growing database currently covers 10 US cities, and more are rapidly being added.

As Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan, CEO & Founder says,  “Everyone needs that little nudge! A lot of local businesses are waiting and watching before they jump into leveraging social media for their business. It’s like when you and I first used facebook. Before gathering the courage to post our first update, we first took some time to observe how our friends use the medium, and to figure what works and what doesn’t. We’re simply trying to provide the benefits of this peer based learning experience for a business.”

He adds, “besides covering geo-specific social media activity of businesses, we also help a local business take its first steps with using social media. Wizards, hyperlocal news feeds, posting tools - we have them all, and some more”

The application is currently in private beta with hundreds of new accounts being activated every day. To sign up for a free account, simply visit http://www.eyesandfeet.com


Contact Information:
Lakshmanan (Lux) Narayan
CEO & Founder, EyesAndFeet.com
TEL: +1-415-651-4524
EMAIL: lux@eyesandfeet.com
Twitter: @eyesandfeet

###



Image: Flickr | Creative commons | Cishore

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Social Media habits of Restaurants & Cafes in San Francisco

Check out this SlideShare Presentation - the first of a series:


View more presentations from EyesAndFeet.com.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

As viral as it gets. Will it Blend meets Old Spice

You have seen Blendtec's "Will It Blend" series, right? No? You can catch the series here or jump right into the popular iPhone4 one or the one where they blend a vuvuzela.

Hopefully, you've also seen the recent Old Spice You Tube campaign that had the internet in a tizzy.

And here's what happens when the twain meet...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From the 'Why do we make it so complicated' department

So, I get this pop-up asking me if I'd like to update my flash player. Only, I'm not sure how I should say 'Yes'. Is it just me or does this UX suck?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Merlions, Seedcamp, Wordles, Thanks, Eyes And Feet



Singapore, here we come!

Seedcamp recently announced their first ever Singapore event. We applied and a few days ago, we were told that we had been selected as one of the 20 participating companies.

Wordle: Tags describing Participants at Seedcamp Singapore

The selected finalists come from 7 countries, with 12 of the 20 coming from Singapore, itself. Here's a wordle on what the 20 companies are about. 'Social' is the dominant theme - followed by location, shopping & gaming. We used 2 tags to describe each company - which two do you think describe Eyes And Feet? (click on the wordle to see it more clearly)

[Update: We won! Next stop: Seedcamp week in London, Jan 2011]


PS: Thank you, Sarah Lacy and Fred Wilson for pointing us to Seedcamp in response to a question we'd asked (at 7:20 on the video embedded below) on how VCs 'find' companies outside of Silicon Valley. That was September 10th - the first time we heard of Seedcamp. By the 20th, we'd applied, and now we're on our way to present at Seedcamp, Singapore on October 5th. PPS: Sarah, Fred, we're NOT focusing on our domestic market - Eyes And Feet's initial focus is on the US market.



Merlion Image courtesy: Flickr | Creative commons

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Social are America's Restaurants and Cafes on Facebook?

9% of US restaurants (listed on Yelp) have Facebook Fan Pages. The average restaurant has 313 fans, and posts updates just once a week. Restaurants with over 100 fans post more often- 1.5 times/week
Click on the Infographic below to see it in full size. Feel free to share this as you'd like.






Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Google Instant Predictions From 0 to 9

Google just launched Google Instant Search. Check it out if you haven't, already.

Within a few hours, Mashable had an interesting post titled "Google Instant Predictions From A to Z".

It was one of those "wish we'd thought of this idea first" moments. However, we took solace in the 'numeric' part of alphanumeric, and hence this piece in Google's Instant Predictions for the numbers. There are some interesting predictions here too. Just imagine: each time you search a street address, one of these will pop up first.


0 - 007



1 - 14th amendment


2 - 24


3 - 3ds


4 - 4chan


5 - 50 cent


6 - 60 minutes


7 - 7zip


8 - 84 lumber


9 - 90210


Oh, and don't bother checking out the symbols now. Google Instant Predictions gives results for only 3 symbols. Can you guess which ones?


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why software is easier on the soul than potato chips

Rant alert. And apologies to some of my friends who will probably be offended by this.



For my first startup in 1996, I rented a small office at a business center. My office was all of 56 sq feet. My neighbor was a 'promotion coordinator' who seemed to be doing well in more ways than one. His office measured 150 sq feet (size did matter then) and through the day he had a constant stream of good looking people (mostly women) coming into his office. He explained that his clients were liquor companies who were affected by the recent ban on mass media advertising (in India) and were looking at enhancing their presence at 'points of consumption' - aka pubs. I asked him if it ever disturbed him or his clients that they were probably making young, impressionable males drink more than they should. He had another vodka and we changed the topic.

A few years later, another friend at British American Tobacco (Dunhill, Rothmans, etc) in the Middle East was running similar 'point of consumption' promotions. He was a non smoker and did not wish to dwell on the 'ethics' of his profession. So, I left it at that.

At that time, I simplistically thought only 'vice products' had ethical issues to address!

I now believe that fast food, sodas, beverages, malt beverages, fairness creams, all belong on that list - admittedly with varying shades of gray. From Horlicks who promises kids that they will gain 2 inches in height to drinks who aren't upfront about the havoc high fructose corn syrup can wreak on our bodies to fairness creams that prey on our insecurities - they all have ethical issues to ponder over.

I'm unable to fathom how a product manager can sleep well knowing that his product will not make a kid smarter as his ad loudly promises. Or has he drunk too much of his own kool aid malt beverage? Take the fairness cream marketers - doesn't the thought of women (and men) buying it by the gallon trouble them? The fact that the results promised in the ads (in the promised time frame) are absolute outliers - it should rankle somewhere, shouldn't it?

I worked in advertising for a few years so I can understand the apathy and sense of detachment a marketer can assume (while simultaneously having focus groups to 'get under the skin' of his consumer). Many of these marketers are good, decent people who, strangely, don't seem to have an issue with the ethics of their trade. Something's certainly wrong- somewhere!

Which brings me to software...

Most of the time, it's WYSIWYG. There's almost no gap between what a customer evaluates and what she gets. Hyperbole can get you, at best, a trial. Thereafter, your product does the talking and in this age of free trials, freemium models & rampant choice, it better speak for itself!

I'm not saying software vendors are holier (than thou). Just that selling software is certainly a lot easier on the conscience!


(clarification: enterprise software suffers more of the ills ascribed to consumer products, albeit, to a lesser extent. But what the heck, if they're selling vaporware to McDonalds, so be it)


X Ray Image: Flickr | Creative Commons

.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More on tweet half life - still less than a day

If you haven't read our previous post on this subject, please do so first.


While researching Tweetmeme for our previous story, we noticed that Mashable was one publisher who had the top stories in virtually every silo - entertainment, games, technology, and even business. Putting it another way: If Tweetmeme were a Foursquare venue, Mashable would be its mayor.

We caught ourselves wondering if even Mashable was subject to the short half life we noticed for other stories. Or, were they different?

Here's what we saw for 3 recent stories on Mashable. To cut a long story short, Mashable's stories' half life seemed even less than a day. And each story debuted with almost 1,000 tweets referencing the URL - in day one!

(note: like before, we selected 'non news' stories with a longer shelf life)

As you can see, Mashable is no different - the half life is less than a day!

The half life of a popular tweet is less than 1 day

You've finally got that viral tweet! Something about your start up or product is finally tweeted by a high klout tweetaholic.You have your eyes glued to half a dozen screens that show you retweets, mentions and twitter searches for your company/URL/product/keyword. It looks great - for about 42 minutes, or at best a few hours. And then...Poof!

Silence.



You head to bed, hoping to know that a resurgence in interest happened while you were asleep. The morning brings no great joy. It's almost like, barring that 1 hour in the limelight, your 'tweet de resistance' never existed.

Don't be disappointed! It happens to the best, as this tale of two (update: three) tweets illustrates

Here's what we did:
  1. Headed over to Tweetmeme and hand picked a few popular (over 7 days) stories from multiple categories (technology, entertainment, etc)
  2. Filtered and selected relatively timeless stories - stories whose value doesn't depreciate with time. Typically, this would mean 'non news' because a news story's value naturally depreciates but an interesting video on cats doesn't.
  3. Filtered again to select stories that are anchored in a URL, i.e. stories that you would expect to find only at one unique URL. A YouTube video won't pass this test as there is a high propensity to embed a video on one's own blog. Hence, the same piece of content might go viral from multiple URLs. While this is great, it doesn't work for this study as...
  4. We used Backtweets to query the number of tweets referencing a given URL in a given day, and did this for the few days since the URL first appeared in twitter. We'd have loved to provide a higher level of granularity (every hour) - but Backtweets (basic & free option) doesn't offer this.
Here are the ones that we finally selected:

A) Periodic Table of the Elements
Over 2,500 mentions in a week!
This story debuted on August 21st, peaked on August 23rd and then dropped. Interestingly, there seems to be a second surge in interest - not unsurprising considering that it wasn't initially tweeted from any well known account - guess it was just time before someone with more followers picked it up! Here are the numbers:



B) Why working from home is both awesome and horrible
Over 8,500 mentions in half a week!
This one was initially tweeted by @oatmeal. With over 80,000 followers and a reputation for posting stellar content, this is (almost) as good as it gets. Plus, this content isn't time bound in any way- there's no expiry date on its ability to elicit a chuckle. However, after peaking at over 3,000 tweets a day, the volume rapidly dropped to under 25% of that, as this chart illustrates.



Moving to as good as it gets...

From the stables of someone who's almost always trending on twitter: Justin Bieber!

C) Be a part of Justin's Movie | Bieber Fever
Considering that this was encouraging people to apply for a role in Justin Bieber video, this is as viral as it can get. And how: over 25,000 mentions in half a week! Here's how this one did - from when it first tweeted on August 24th. Don't miss the super rapid decline.



Admittedly, there is no rigorous statistical analysis on the above data. It's fairly obvious, though, that tweet volume declines quite rapidly - to less than 50% of it's maximum - in less than a day. Lessons?

i) Don't be disappointed when your tweet vanishes into the sunset faster than it rode in. In fact, if you're not Justin Bieber, you may get a second lease of life if it gets picked up by someone more 'powerful'.

ii) Continue to focus on creating timeless content. As you can imagine, a news story will drop even faster as it gets outdated, so giving a spin on a news story or a product announcement won't make the grade. All the links profiled here are timeless (OK, not the Bieber one - but it was timeless for the period studied, unlike a "Justin in Miami, fans go berserk" news story)

iii) Important for start-ups: Don't fool yourself into thinking "if only X would tweet about me, everything would fall in place". As we've previously written, there's a lot more you can do and should be doing.

Happy tweeting!

[Update: We weren't satisfied with just these three examples and are now analyzing analyzed the tweet volumes of the one source that is profiled most often and across all channels on Tweetmeme. Read all about it in our next blog post]


Image: Flickr | Creative Commons

Friday, August 27, 2010

Our QR code enabled business card (and how I am a late adopter of the obvious)

When cellphones became fairly ubiquitous around 1998, I refused to buy one. For reasons too verbose (and some, too flimsy) to articulate, I didn't get one for a long time. In that period, most of my friends & colleagues had probably gone through about two models. Then, one late evening, my car had a flat in the middle of nowhere and I had to walk a fair bit to get to a payphone. The next day, I was the proud owner of an Alcatel phone!

I thought, in this era of social networking, bump, and virtual cards, we could get by without 'non green' business cards. So, in the last few months of our company's existence, we avoided having one! But then, we're increasingly realizing that this isn't the best thing. At events & conferences, people (understandably) might assume you're not a 'serious' business. So, there I go - eating my words. Again.


I must however confess to loving our design, especially the "relative to email" idea I picked up here. Oh, if you have a smartphone with a camera, download a QR Reader - and scan my QR code (showing on your screen). Yes, it works - it has my name, email, phone number URL, LinkedIn, twitter,and horoscope (just kidding)! Do you like our design? Too esoteric? Please let us know.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The A E I O U of Software Marketing

Marketing a software product involves 'talking to' various audiences. It's easy to lose sight of this fact and spend a disproportionate amount of your resources to get that Techcrunch story that you think will propel you into instant traction. This 'vowel guide' should help your efforts stay consonant with your objectives.

Here's whom you should be talking to - in INCREASING order of importance:

Analysts - Least important

They seem to be a dying breed. I can't recall the last article I read where a Gartner or Forrester analyst was quoted! Additionally, one typically needed an analyst quote for a press release but the press release is a dying breed unto itself. If enterprise software is your forte, you probably can benefit from some analyst coverage.

If it's a consumer focused web 2.0 product you're doing, forget that analysts exist.

And remember, most analysts will grudgingly give you only one briefing (if you're lucky) so that they have something to pepper their next conversation with a Fortune 500 CTO. Thereafter, if you want them to show any interest in your "earth's rotation changing" idea, you'd better be a paying client.

Early Adopters (rather, early adopters of anything) - Less Important

These are NOT the early adopters of your product. These are early adopters of anything that smells like tech. They are a subset of the 4.4 million people who subscribe to TechCrunch, Mashable, RWW, TheNextWeb, Lifehacker, and everything in between (no, Hacker News doesn't belong here - not yet, at least). Most start-ups spend a disproportionately high amount of time focusing here.

It's enticing, for sure. After all, it's the tech equivalent of making your Hollywood debut in an Angelina Jolie movie. Take it with a pinch of SALT (pun intended) - especially if it's just 2 seconds of screen time where she's kicking your ass.

TechCrunch is not / cannot be your marketing strategy! That traffic blip from news hungry (and easily jaded) readers will drop off as fast as it came. Most of the traffic may not even be relevant unless your product targets start-ups, journalists & angel investors. Sure, it could catalyze some conversations with investors and (therefore) the media. While you should certainly try, don't direct all your efforts into this. After all, as a start-up, time is your scarcest commodity. And the disappointment from not making it here can (wrongly) color your own assessment about your chances of success. Don't let that happen.

 Industry insiders - Somewhat Important

These are the individuals whose blogs you've subscribed to, whose tweets you follow, whom you're (creepily) trying to 'friend' on Facebook, and who you're trying to connect to on Linked In (tip: join a group they're a member of). Some of them are known in your technology niche (eg. Social media applications) or amongst your target audience (eg. Restaurants and other local businesses) or even better- the intersection of your technology niche & target audience (in our case, social media for local businesses).

As you explore more and more, you'll probably see a pattern of cross-pollination whereby the members of this coterie pass & curry favors amongst themselves, speak in the same conferences, have twitter banter, etc. Some of them deserve their 'guru status' and others may help reassure you that if they could manage 23,456 followers, anyone can. You fantasize about how you'll have made it - if you can only make it into their 'club'. By all means try, but don't be hasty about it. Follow the common sense rules of engagement. And remember, unless you're getting into a (mutually) meaningful relationship like making someone a member of your advisory board, their attention spans can also be short! A good rule is to start with the less popular members of their tribe and work your way up. Don't go prematurely for the jugular of the alpha male.

Other Partners - Very Important

Imagine you have a LinkedIn silver bullet that allows you to have a meaningful connection with anyone you want. Whom would you choose? No, you can't choose Paul Graham; we're focusing on marketing, remember (Yes, I know, getting into YCombinator => free & instant marketing, but let's keep that aside for a moment).

Understand your ecosystem. Figure out who's already got traction amongst your users. And try and ride on their coat-tails. Obviously, you'll need to add value to them in someway so figure that part out first! Then, try and get a one to one meeting - this is the tough part. You should invest your energies here. This is where you can ramp up your user base - the guys who really pay your bills. If anyone from OpenTable, AMEX Open Forum, Yelp or Google Places is reading this, please please contact me.


Users - Most Important
 
Here's where you start by focusing on the real early adopters. These are your angels (not investors). The ones who will hopefully evangelize your product and help you get that early majority, cross the chasm and achieve greatness. Unfortunately, this is often the most difficult task and involves the most drudge work, and thinking: Can I send them spam email? Doesn't everyone? Should I tweet to 5 of them each day or is that crass? Call them, perhaps? Adwords? Facebook Ads? 3 months of SEO? What's my viral strategy? I'll leave it to you to figure what works best for you to reach your users. But if you've truly built something good that makes their life better, they should want to hear from you. If not, you should be reading this instead.

Good luck with focusing where it matters, between A,E,I,O & U. And don't forget to mind your Ps & Qs


All images courtesy: Geishaboy500's amazing Red Silk Alphabet on Flickr | Creative Commons

Now that's what I call a presentation

Look beyond the excessive (non) use of expletives. If you haven't seen this before, drop what you're doing and see it. Yes, even if you're not into social media. Besides giving a good idea of the way people connect today, this is a great lesson on how to make a presentation that's seen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

If real life mirrored social networks

Dunbar number aside, social networks, most notably Facebook, are supposed to mirror real relationships. Do they? This interesting (french) video shows what real life would look like - if it was indeed like a social network!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Facebook's killer app is here. No, it's NOT places.


Image courtesy: Mark Krynsky | Flickr

Rewind to 1999. I was working in an advertising agency then, running their web & interactive services division. It started then: the footer of almost every print  advertisement, the last frame of any TV ad, and the last 5 seconds of a radio spot- were reserved for the company or product's URL. No marketing manager worth his 4Ps would be caught dead without a URL. And web design shops were sprouting up faster than mushrooms.

Now imagine if someone (say, Google) had the power to display advertising on each and every one of those company & product websites and of course, charge for it. Sounds inconceivable?

Back to the present...

Notice something about magazine ads these days? The product URL, while still popular, is fast being supplemented, and in some cases entirely replaced by a new kind of URL - that of their facebook fan page!

This year, in a period of about 6 months, the number of facebook users grew 25% - from 400mn to 500 million! 500 million users is over 25% of the world's online population.

But there's a more fantastic statistic on facebook:  300% growth.

When we were going through facebook fan pages (for our app, Eyes And Feet) in March, we counted approximately 4mn facebook fan pages. This month, we counted 16mn. That's a 4 fold increase in 5 months. And this number will only explode - especially with the launch of facebook places, and businesses being encouraged to 'claim their place' and convert it to a 'facebook page'.

Facebook's "global domination plan" has been here all this time & staring at us in the face- it's Facebook pages!

As Facebook pages become more ubiquitous and as more brands, products & businesses mention this as "their URL", that's more power to Facebook. The big big big difference here is that the pages are hosted on Facebook, by Facebook! That's NOT the same as your 'under your control' webpage on your friendly neighborhood web server. Facebook's recent announcements to do away with boxes on fan pages, the changes in tab widths, improvements to FBML, are all steps in this direction - to help make your facebook page your new brand URL!

And once your Facebook page is an integral part of your brand, would you want other products randomly advertising to your customers on your fan page? Only, it's not your choice anymore - Facebook reserves the right to display anything they want on "your" page, and there's nothing you can do about it. Unless you pay...

I won't be surprised if, as a part of their fan page monetization strategy, Facebook charges brands for 'no ad fan pages' depending on the number of fans they have. In fact, I think something of this nature may already be happening. The five leading brand fan pages on Facebook are Starbucks, Coca Cola, Oreo, Skittles & Red Bull. Oreo's fan page looks cluttered - thanks to the 'random' ads on the right. None of the other 4 seem to have ads!

Hmmm. Welcome to the new www. Guess who Verizon will have their next net neutrality conversation with.

[written by Lux, founder of Eyes And Feet - Get more customers from social media for your local business]