One of the key features of Twocial is to identify people who are talking to/about you, and more importantly, to determine whether it’s good or bad.
We love it when people say good things about us:
And we hate it when people say bad things. Most of us get defensive and struggle to not take it personally. Sometimes we find excuses or tell ourselves that it was just someone having a bad day.
But when people complain they’re usually being pretty honest – they really are pissed off, or think your product should have feature X, or that competitor Y is awesome and you suck.
People who go out of their way to tell you about something they dislike can actually be really useful. Reach out to them and ask them why they dislike it. Try to get more details from them about what they’d prefer to see instead. Learn from it.
Of course, you can’t do this with everyone – some people just like to complain – but more often than not people are complaining for a reason. You can choose to use that and learn from it, or take it personally and potentially lose a great opportunity to improve.
It was nice to see the coffee shop Pret demonstrating this recently:
Unfortunately, if you wait until social media is able to prove itself to you before deciding to enagge with your customers one-to-one, you’ll have missed your greatest window of opportunity to move ahead of your competitors. — Gary Vaynerchuk - The Thank You Economy
Gary Vaynerchuk is a name you’ve almost certainly heard before. He’s an incredibly passionate guy and has the perfect mix of being both insanely inspirational and hilarious at the same time.
At the Inc 500 seminar Gary gave a great talk about how the rules of engagement in business have completely changed. If you haven’t seen his talk, you have to find 60 minutes and watch it right now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcqCAqZtedI. Many of the points mentioned in the talk are things we’re really passionate about at Twocial. Here’s some of the points that really nailed it for us.
It is my firm belief that every single person’s grandparents are more prepared to be successful in the next decade than you guys. Because the way business was built in the old days was on small town rules.
Gary is referring to the one-on-one marketing that was common back in the days when your local butcher would know exactly how you liked your meat and had a real relationship with you. Things have changed in a big way since then. Most businesses now have no relationship with their customers at all. They don’t talk to them, they don’t listen to them and they certainly don’t know them.
90% of you are treating social media like a one-night stand.
Most businesses see social media as another push channel for marketing – an alternative to email campaigns and banner advertisements. What we passionately believe at Twocial, and what Gary puts into a very clear and entertaining context is that this mindset misses the point completely. It’s no longer just about content – everyone is pushing out great content – it’s back to the small town rules. Except now we’re in a huge big city.
When I hear people debate “what’s the ROI of social media?” it makes me remember why so many businesses fail. The problem is most businesses are not playing the marathon, they’re playing the sprint. They’re not worried about life time value and retention, they’re worried about short term goals.
Let’s not forget that it’s called social media. You can choose to treat it as a channel for pushing additional content and trying to work out how much revenue that creates. Or you can see it as the biggest opportunity in history to learn about your customers and build lasting and meaningful relationships with them. Customers who love your product are one thing, but customers who also love you are the holy grail – just look at Apple.
Word of mouth is the currency, and now we have the infrastructure for word of mouth to be on steroids. It carries dramatically further than it ever did before.
It’s now more important than ever to start building great relationships with your customers. While push marketing is diminishing, word of mouth and reputation are becoming everything. Getting your customers to love you is super hard work, no doubt, but certainly the single best thing you can do for your business.
Welcome back to the small town rules.
It should come as no surprise that here at Twocial we really care about customer engagement, particularly the kind facilitated by social media. We created Twocial so we could help businesses better engage with, and better understand their current and prospective customers.
I vividly remember the day we sat down and decided that we’d invest all of our future energy into Twocial and into making it a huge success; we were in an amazing little coffee shop in the Northern Quarter of Manchester called North Tea Power.
NTP has become a bit of a hacker’s coffee shop over the last year or so. We’re not their target market necessarily, but it has become a great place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon and bump into all sorts of creative people working on their own projects or startups – not to mention the great coffee, of course.
One of our primary focuses with Twocial is to make it really easy for business to be aware of people who are relevant to them. This could be someone with a large influence who has complained about a business (where dealing with their complaint quickly is important) but it could also be someone who is singing the praises of a particular business.
These endorsers are hugely important for a business – they validate it to other people with a human, normally un-biased opinion which strongly influences other people. In fact, brand endorsers can often be far more effective than regular advertising.
Last weekend we saw a great example of this from our very own North Tea Power.
Here’s the conversation:
In summary: NTP humorously asked who was joining them for lunch today, mentioning their wonderful soup. I saw the tweet and replied, asking what the soup was. It happened to be my favourite, but at the same time our good friend Gemma saw the tweet and replied “omfg nom.”.
So, a nice human side to their engagement and definitely no sense of mindless advertising – kudos for that alone. But what they did next was awesome. Being fully aware of the power of brand endorsement, NTP decided to bridge the gap between online brand endorsement and real life by taking a few of these endorsements from Twitter and writing them on a chalk board outside the coffee shop.
For bonus points, who noticed that they even removed the ‘f’ from the original tweet to be more street-friendly?
Overall what a great use of Twitter and a great example of using brand endorsement without it feeling too much like emotionless advertising.
Well done NTP, that’s what we like to see!
Righty, so we’ve had some news recently that is pretty big…
If you follow either Martin or myself on Twitter you’ll already know this. Martin has been offered a job at a startup based in Berlin called Babbel. Babbel offer an intelligent web and mobile app based method to learn new languages. Martin will be doing what he does best and that’s being a coding ninja. It’s a cool story how he got the job; he’s a paying customer of Babbel (we’re both learning German) and after developing a relationship with some of the staff there he landed the gig. I know Martin is gonna kill it and do awesomely well.
So what does this mean for Twocial? Well first off, we’ve had countless conversations about it and we’re both as dedicated to Twocial as we’ve ever been. So in short it’s business as usual.
If anything it’s pretty awesome for Twocial. Okay so it’s not a new Berlin office as such - but it does mean that we have a presence in the absolutely buzzing Silicon Allee scene in Berlin.
We’ve made some friends in the US, we already have friends in Silicon Roundabout in London and now we’re ready to do the same in Berlin.
This means that we’re going to be Skyping, tweeting and travelling back and forth which is actually an awesome prospect. This also means that Twocial Socials are going to be a truly international affair :)
So, exciting times for Martin and his big move - and exciting times for Twocial.
P.s. So, you’re not already following us on Twitter? If you don’t want to be left out of the loop then check in with us here: @TwocialApp.
It has been a little while since our last post so apologies for the length of this one. It’s been a while simply because we’ve had so much on. I guess it’s one of the challenges we’re facing with Twocial being both bootstrapped and a part time endeavour. When I say part time, what I mean is that we both have day jobs. For those who don’t know us; Martin is a coding ninja who is seriously well respected in the coding community, and I’m an ex-coder ex-banker product guy (classically trained - long story). Twocial is being developed in our spare time which is our evenings and weekends.
But don’t get me wrong though, Twocial is pretty much all we talk and think about.
Skype with Ricky
So as per our previous post, we’ve been making some friends in the US. Our next Skype was with Ricky cofounder of Crowdbooster. Me and Martin met up at North Tea Power and used their WiFi sat on the veranda. Crowdbooster, based in Palo Alto, CA is a social media dashboard which helps businesses manage their social presence. Most interesting about Crowdbooster is that they analyse your twitter audience and they provide you with stats around what time is best to tweet to maximise your impact.
Ricky already had a handle on what we’re about from our emails, but he was very interested in hearing about what makes us stand out from the 500 other social media analytics out there.
Keep it Simple
Our differentiator is the sentiment, we are able to identify which conversation about your business is worth listening to. Not only the sentiment of what is being said, it’s how you engage with people and the quality of the engagements. That’s our secret sauce. We talked about the standard social metrics that users have grown to expect and that naturally we’d provide them too. Ricky, without hesitation made it clear that this would be the wrong thing to do. His advise is to keep it simple - do what you do best and focus on that - and be awesome at it. Forget the rest of the features that people already use HootSuite for - the cost of converting a customer from using HootSuite to Twocial would be too much. So why bother? Build something simple and you’ll stand out.
Ricky with Crowdbooster have been through the awesome Y Combinator startup incubator. If you’re not aware of Y Combinator, stop reading this and come back when you have. Ricky could not speak more highly of Paul Graham and the influence he had on his idea. Me and Martin have both discussed applying for YC in the past but Ricky said just do it - although we’ve missed the deadline for the current intake - we’re dead set on applying for the next.
The call lasted about 45 minutes and we got some amazing advice on how to focus our efforts. We’ve officially dropped the idea of providing standard metrics that everybody else does - we’re all about user sentiment and user engagement. But most of all it’s not about numbers, stats and charts - it’s all about people.
Ok, so a few weeks ago I blogged about an event I went to at Techcelerate: The Northern Tech Funding Landscape. There I met some pretty interesting people, and I ended up making a new friend in the shape of the awesome Anusha Su. Not only is Anusha a really genuinely energetic and pleasant person, she is also an uber connected person and has some seriously intimidating tech credentials. Before moving to the UK, Anusha was an exec in a VC firm in Silicon Valley and is on first name terms with major players in the scene out there. Naturally I spoke about Twocial, we got along really well and so we stayed in touch. A few weeks later Anusha was in Manchester so we met for coffee. We were talking about the tech scene in the UK and eventually Twocial. She was really interested and promised to put us in touch with two friends of hers who have cofounded startups broadly in the same space - and that I should really connect with them.
So, that very evening Anusha introduced us via Facebook and within days I had Skype sessions organised with each of them; Maria at Davai and Ricky at Crowdbooster.
The first was with Maria who is a cofounder at Davai. Davai are Seattle based and are focused on the social and mobile experience in the retail sector. Davai offers web and mobile apps to retailers to best target customers and provide them with branded and targeted content. Broadly summarised, the call was focused on our user base and our strategy around quality of data. Davai use a sophisticated algorithm that crawls all of the social networks and platforms and aggregates this for the retail sector. The call was great for me to tell Maria where we’re at, and it was encouraging to hear that Maria had the same thought processes as we did when they were at early stage.
My key take aways from the call were:
Maria has so much experience and her product development journey was so similar to ours - so it was great to hear the drivers behind their decision to focus on the retail sector. Maria ended the call with words of encouragement by saying we had an interesting spin and that we should check in with her once we had an Alpha release.
So, lessons learnt and food for thought. I’ll be sure to blog once we’ve had the Skype with Crowdbooster. Until then why not follow us on Twitter @TwocialApp to keep up to date with what we’re upto and when we next meet.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had a recurring conversation with a number of different startups, just how much do you charge for a subscription? It’s a really difficult question to answer. How do you know when you’ve hit the sweet spot for a tiered subscription model?
I was talking with James Wilson (also my colleague) founder of Adbok.com about the awesome DollarShaveClub (see the video I posted yesterday) and their $1/mo, $6/mo and $9/mo subscription model. Adbok, an established startup and a leader in its niche, is a cloud based driving school aggregator allowing learner drivers to find instructors and make buying decisions based on their preferences. At the same time, Adbok offers instructors tools to manage and track their business and financials - all integrated with social networks. James was talking about how difficult it is finding a price that is both accessible for ‘non tech savvy’ users without selling yourself short.
I had the exact same conversation this evening with Graham Ashton, founder of The Agile Planner. I met Graham on Monday at the Bootstrap Business Club where he gave a 5 min presentation on his product. The Agile Planner is a way for anybody using an Agile or Kanban dev process to track their tickets/ stories. Btw, from the demo I saw on Monday - I really like the look of it; crisp, simple interface and focuses on the essence of the ticket: the story. I liked it so much that it’s the reason we met up this evening at North Tea Power (where else?), we swapped details on Monday and met up to talk as I use Kanban pretty religiously in my day job. The subject of subscription price came up - I asked him “based on 50 developers how much would he charge per month?” - I won’t share his answer but I definitely thought it was too low! We ended up spending the rest of the time discussing frustrations around price points and perceptions.
Both James with Adbok and Graham with The Agile planner (and eventually myself with Twocial) are facing the same issue; How much is too much, and how much is not enough?
Again, none of us have the answer but we did share some interesting thoughts. I’ve read the awesome ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely who gave a TED talk titled ‘Are we in control of our own decisions?’ - about 12:30 into the talk he gives an amazing example of the psychology of subscription models (just watch it, I won’t give it justice by paraphrasing).
Ultimately we shouldn’t be afraid of charging from day one, Ryan Carson talks about this when Kevin Rose interviewed him on Revision 3 (about 20 mins in), because freemium don’t pay the rent.
So, no great insights, no answers, just a bunch of confused people and a few interesting videos - your thoughts?
So Monday evening we were at the awesome MadLab here in the Northern Quarter of Manchester for the Bootstrap Business Club organised by Tekin Suleyman.
The Bootsrap Business Club held a ‘Show and Tell’ night where tech startups had the opportunity to explain and demonstrate what they’re working on right now and give the audience the opportunity for Q&A - all in a 5 min time limit. It was brilliant to see the loft of MadLab full to the brim with standing room only at the back. The night attracted a whole host of self funded startups all at varying stages of development.
The evening started off with Tekin talking about his own startup Crowd FM, and then handed over to the 15 other startups waiting to pitch.
For a blow by blow live blog of the pitches and a list of all startups, check out the Northology blog. Northology is a podcast/ blog centered around the startup scene of Manchester. It’s run by a friend Nathan Rae - I was involved with Northology at a super early stage until my life got taken over by all things Twocial. It’s definitely worth checking out.
At the end of the evening, I managed to steal a 5 min slot at the end to conduct some Minimum Viable Product testing - I began the sentence with “Twocial is…”
And I tried to garner which of the above were interesting, awesome, rubbish, had potential… the reaction was mixed but did provoke some interesting questions! Martin also pitched in with comments throughout. The pitch was total ad lib and I wasn’t prepared by any means - but it was great fun to do and we got some great feedback.
But at the end of the evening, the thing that struck me most was the energy that was in the room and the diverse set of startups present. It was really awesome to be among other startups who were in the same boat - the feedback was all constructive and I think we all made some awesome contacts.
All in all a great evening and I shall definitely be attending next month, thanks Tekin for a top event.