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After several months of researching, testing, and using various tools for social media monitoring and response, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my findings. It was fun to dive into these tools, but I hope the information in this article will save you time and help you quickly find the tool that’s right for your needs.
Why Bother Monitoring Social Media?
Even if you or your clients have "decided" not to actively participate in social media, it’s really not a choice. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does social media. Either you can fill the vacuum with your perspective, or your customers and competitors will fill it for you. The choice is clear. Monitoring helps with branding and marketing and can help identify quality control or customer care problems that may have gone unnoticed. Monitoring is only one piece of the puzzle, however. It’s important to find out who is saying what, and where the conversation is happening so you can respond appropriately.
There are few terms you’ll need to be familiar with before we talk about the tools, so let’s take a moment to cover them before we jump into the details. Influence If you find there are customers who have a strong opinion of your brand, it’s important to understand the influence of those customers.
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How many followers do they have? Do they get retweets? How many external links point to their blog? How many comments do their blog posts attract?
Several of the free tools listed below include this measurement to assist in your monitoring and response efforts. All of the paid options include it. Sentiment Are the comments positive or negative? Most current tools attempt to assign sentiment to a post automatically. While this is helpful for brands with tons of mentions, it’s only about 70% accurate in most cases, so manual verification and spot-checking is encouraged across the board before making any decisions based on influence data. Volume This is simply the amount of "buzz" that exists. Many monitoring tools give the ability to chart volume for specific keywords over time. This gives you a great way to measure
the impact of your marketing efforts and social media campaigns, especially when combined with sentiment. A lot can be learned about your brand and your customers by investigating spikes in social media volumes. Workflow Workflow is the process of assigning, tracking and responding to social media, typically in a team environment. An effective workflow can prevent double responses and missed opportunities. Now that we have an understanding of the purpose and the terminology surrounding social media monitoring, let’s take a look at some tools that can help you monitor your presence.
1. Google Alerts
An oldie but a goodie! Google Alerts allows you to set up keyword searches for the name of your company or competitors, for example, and receive updates in your email inbox or through an RSS feed. When combined with iGoogle, you can create a pretty nice consolidated page that contains the latest findings for your selected keywords. When it comes to monitoring social media, this is the least you should be doing; it’s free and an absolute snap to set up.
2. Twitter Advanced Search
By using the advanced features in Twitter’s search tool, you can use simple Boolean logic (true or false conditions) to perform some pretty powerful searches. Once you set up your search, you can save the query as an RSS feed so you can keep up to date on the latest news.
Used by many, Icerocket helps you keep watch over Twitter, blogs, web, news, images and more. Features include a topic cloud and basic listing of mentions. This social media monitoring tool also offers the ability to bookmark your search results for later reference. Although helpful, some users might find the interface and the style of the search results pages a little archaic compared to the other options.
This tool is a consolidated page with search matches across blogs, Twitter, Digg, Flickr and more. Featuring an appealing interface and one-page dashboard, Addict-o-matic is one of the best free tools available for summarizing all your "buzz" in one place.
Boardtracker focuses on grabbing "buzz" from message boards and forums. Features include a topic cloud and influencer list. There are ads mixed in with your search results which may turn off some users. A premium version is offered. If your target customers are more active on message boards than other channels, this could be the right tool for you.
however. and strength (volume/day). The ranking of influencers. Twazzup Of the Twitter-focused monitoring tools I’ve come across. so Twazzup must be using a different calculation. Social Mention This social media monitoring tool features an interesting combination of easy-to-read metrics including reach. Twazzup does a great job of getting everything on one page. sentiment. A quick check of Klout scores on profiles for a few key topics didn’t reflect a high level of influence.6. Social Mention . seems a little mysterious. passion. and influencers are available. Sentiment. top links. 7.
mainstream news. and audio. Searches can be saved as an RSS feed so you can easily stay up-to-date. blog comments. Although HootSuite could be categorized as an account management tool rather than a monitoring tool. You can push updates to one or more profiles. MySpace.tracks blogs. monitor your social media buzz across multiple web services. video. HootSuite HootSuite is a popular tool that can be used to manage multiple accounts across Twitter. Seesmic . and assign tasks among team members based on roles. HootSuite apps for both iPhone and Android are available. 8. you’ll want to use an additional tool to supplement monitoring of forums and blogs. Twitter. deploy timed updates. I believe it deserves mention here because of its large user base and powerful functionality. If you use HootSuite. Foursquare and LinkedIn. track click-through. images. WordPress. 9. Facebook.
on the team collaboration and workflow front.If you try HootSuite. If you’ve used the other tools on this list. Seesmic gives up some ground to HootSuite. Windows. because it needs to be installed on your system instead of being able to run in a Web browser. the multi-column format will feel familiar. so it is not for those who will be collaborating with a team. The similarity doesn’t end there. Linux. iPhone and iPad. They also share the capability to manage multiple accounts across all the popular social media outlets. MySpace. 11. Foursquare and Google Buzz. Scoutlabs ($249/mo) . however. TweetDeck is available as an application for Mac. You can use TweetDeck to manage profiles across Twitter. 10. In addition. LinkedIn. you’ll find the interface of Seesmic fairly familiar. TweetDeck is lacking a good workflow. TweetDeck Another account management tool. many people won’t be able to use it in a secure corporate environment. Facebook.
Radian6 ($500/mo) Radian6 is a powerhouse that gives you the ability to slice-and-dice your data until your head spins. The amount of monthly volume can influence pricing which is a little scary for companies that may experience wild swings in monthly volume. If you invest the time to learn this tool. . monitoring across blogs. Twitter. Note that it can be a challenge to output some graphs and reports which may be an issue if you want to produce reports for your clients. sentiment-tracking. it provides you with a wealth of information so you can become the go-to expert for them. learning about key quotes (based on sentiment). 12. sentiment. branding the service as your own. Integrated workflow.Scoutlabs has a great clean interface and overall excellent features for volume trending. and more is what this social media monitoring tool has to offer. and managing workflow for response management. forums. news. It’s a great option for agencies and freelancers because you can give clients access to a dashboard with your logo on it. This is not the type of solution you should set up and hand over to your clients. alerts. you can discover insights that will make you a hero to your clients. Unlimited results helps protect you from increased monthly cost due to unexpected spikes in volume.
Social news/bookmarking websites are a great for finding useful resources. 2009 by Jacob Gube | 39 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious advertise here Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. Whether you’re seeking tutorials. This article features social news/bookmarking sites for web designers and developers. tutorials. these are the websites to check out. as well as vote down stories that they don’t like. vote on other people’s submissions. These sites typically puts users in the driver’s seat by giving them the ability to submit links. Because of this. and information on the web. information on the latest trends and web technologies. Designmoo . or a design community that you can participate in. 1.12 Excellent Social News Sites for Web Designers July 6th. they’re able to create a userdriven site and connect people who have similar interests.
Pixel Groovy Pixel Groovy is a user-controlled tutorial archive where members decide which tutorials to promote to the front page.Designmoo is a new social media site for designers and developers. Users can submit links in one of the 15 design-related categories. 3. design:related . The ability to tag your submissions with key words and being able to sign in using OpenID are just a couple of features that makes the site easy to use. 4. Design Bump provides web designers and developers with plenty of useful web resources. 2. by the way. It’s an awesome site for finding design and development tutorials that’s been reviewed by your fellow designers and developers. Design Bump is set on becoming one of the top places to go to for design-related news. subscribe to each category via RSS feeds). Design Bump With a new site redesign. With a super simple interface and copious topics to submit news to (you can.
registered users can choose to vote on (or bury) submissions. Digg/Design . 6. DesignFloat DesignFloat is a site where members can submit design-related links. 5. DesignFloat is a great way to find excellent design-related news. You can share interesting news and ideas. tutorials.design:related is a community site that aims to bring designers together by giving them an outlet where they can share their interests with each other. and articles. and much like most “vote-to-promote” sites.
you’ll find plenty of web design and web development links at tweako.WPscoop is a social media/bookmarking site that is focused on news and information about WordPress. tweako is a user-powered website that features guides. tutorials. computing. 12. you’ll want to check out WPscoop. and other types of resources in the subject of technology. and the web. Graphic Design Links . If you use or develop a WordPress-powered site. tweako Though not strictly for web designers. 11.
vote on. .Graphic Design Links is a social news site for graphic design related resources. Sometimes. which allows them to dictate what gets promoted to the site’s front page. Social media is more than just socializing online. 2010 by Alex Kessinger | 15 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious Advertise Here Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. and bury submissions. Got more sites we should be checking out? If we missed your favorite social news/bookmarking site please share it with us in the comments. check out the most popular keywords on Graphic Design Links via the Tag cloud page. There is a broad range of conversation that happens online. One form of which is people talking about what they want to do. To find interesting submissions. we’d love to discover them! Make the Most Out of Social Media July 2nd. this can lead to great opportunities such as being able to work on awesome projects or meeting people to collaborate with. Users can submit.
they had talent. Curators are like the decomposers of information: We take in a bunch of raw material and churn out gold. It’s important theoretically and pragmatically to you. but what if we didn’t have vinyl records or radio stations back in the day? What if we didn’t have televisions. This concept manifests itself in a statement he made. I want 100% of you all to become consumers of social media. The curator level is super important. but the real secret message I have for you is that the best way to get more out of social media is to be a producer in the ecosystem. both are heroes of mine. I want to turn into curators. He was a Professor of Media Studies in Canada who wrote a lot about media. This won’t be the last time I say this. How did they become the most awesome band in the world? Sure. The idea is that the medium of communication matters more than the message that gets communicated. Both are groundbreaking in their own way. The Theory Social media is different from many of the media that came before it. of being a producer: I want to give you that extra push. First. some of you out there may be on the verge of creating.Goals Social media is useful to you. Curating is as simple as tweeting a link or sharing something on Facebook or Google Reader. Now think of a band like The Beatles. "The medium is the message" Marshall Macluhan is a big media theorist. I have two big ideas from two big people. Some of you consumers. The Beatles would have just been arguably the most awesome band in Liverpool. . "The medium is the message. magazines. Finally. and newspapers? Without the major broadcast medium." Think about that: The medium is the message. It’s really easy. the handful of you reading this who may not be already consuming social media: I want you to start. This guy realized the moment we connected the world together into one global telecommunications network that one day it would be instantaneous and the nature of that kind of communication would have huge ramifications. That difference — however slight — is super important. Arguably the most awesome band in the world. and in that regard. I have some goals for you.
Each week they choose a theme and put together a show around that theme. I think we tend to look at all the wrong parts. "It’s like a law of nature. which puts them.The reason I bring this up is that sometimes when evaluating social media. but they started in 1995.200 stories. or even great. maybe topping out at 1. really anything goes as long as it’s good. Only 100 stories a year is good enough to put into their show. Social media isn’t great at this issue. What I find interesting is they have put on 400 shows. Even though they aren’t "creating" the stories. but there are more then a few gentiles out there. Even though I find internet-oriented people to be more open. sometimes some fiction. a law of aerodynamics. Ira glass once said. It takes a serious act of will to make something good. tops. there are still a lot of social media skeptics. "anything that’s created wants to be mediocre" Ira Glass is the host of "This American Life" is a show in the United States. and it’s not really a bad thing. Do you all tend to walk around everyday having really important conversations? No. spoken essays. . at a 100 stories a year.000. Here are common criticisms about social media. 1. and I am going to talk more about this later. These people do their show year round. it’s just the way things are. there are still better ways of handling privacy. Social Media Sucks I might be preaching to the choir here. None of use do." If we look at what Glass is saying — that most things are mediocre — he doesn’t know why. that anything that’s written or anything that’s created wants to be mediocre. Usually it will be a mix of real stories. but in reality. 365 days a year. While there maybe a little getting used to the new-world order. all we have to do is look around us. they are producing the stories. In one sense. And they can only find 100 good stories worthy enough to tell. 50 States. Privacy? Privacy is a real concern and shared by many. Over 300 million people. interviews. They go all over the country and they can only come up with 100 good stories a year. it feels like they aren’t trying hard enough.
personal. CoWorkerJane: A Korean BBQ Truck just pulled up outside Yahoo! Awesome. what’s up? What if we multiply HenerySanJose by a 1000s and put it on a Google Map? . Good Stuff about Social Media Social media’s great because it gives us a way to create connections with real people around or remotely from us. MarioBatali: I just realized that basil grown in Sicily is the secret to a great pasta sauce. why do we expect them to be something else? Context is King JoeChicago: I just ate a bad sandwich.It’s Filled with Crap Danah Boyd is a social media researcher and she has been doing some great stuff around investigating actual use of social media. and pull-based notifications. most things are going to be mediocre. blogs are filled with crap. I get it. I don’t care what people ate for lunch. Twitter is filled with crap. right? It’s an integration of local. Okay. Crowdsourced Pattern of Events What if you were a mayor and you started seeing people tweet something like: HenerySanJose: I just heard a huge bang. It’s filled with crap. why would I ever want to look at a blog about some woman’s dog. and I totally agree. Sure. This is where we can begin to see the medium is the message come into play — the medium of Twitter and other real-time microblogging services — is what allowed those contexts. not so interesting. Yea. but if we look at what Ira Glass said. Geolocation Something Twitter and other real-time social media services can do is to provide a geographical and date context: Geolocation. timely. maybe.
I can just use the star feature. Keeping up with Social Media Using the Triage Technique One of the ideas I want to share with you is the idea of triage. Not So Super Secret Social Media is a stream — well. You are going need to fish for good stuff. you can extract useful information. . Tackle social media consumption by prioritizing the more critical stuff. just like doctors with 10 years of experience will know quickly who needs immediate care and who doesn’t. blog a picture. This is where something like Google Reader really shines. This is exactly what happened in Portland this year. What is The Goal of Triage? To read less crap and more quality stuff. more like a river — a torrent of information flowing past you. just start making decisions. This maybe the most important takeaway. but you will never truly get it until you contribute back to social media. What I know about triage is what I see on medical dramas on television like ER and Trauma. and then its gets filled away for latter perusal. You need to get better at recognizing the good stuff. Tweet a link.We can start to see a pattern. they think of it as a task to be done like getting your unread emails down to zero. The idea is that in the face of an insurmountable. Out of a thousand tweets. completely opaque task. Be prepared to share. It works better the more you do it. Far too many people think they need to consume it all. Practical Super Secret Tip First part of being practical is to give back to the network. I can tell you about how to consume until I am blue in the face. Twitter Movies Another example of the possibilities of social media is this guy is tracking tweet volume around movies coming out and being able to predict with a high degree of accuracy how much money they are going to make.
Your Plan of Action Start small. A rule of thumb for me is if I am not enjoying at least every third item I see from a source. it needs to keep you coming back for more. organically grow. . This folder has to be like your crack cocaine. You need time to develop a sense of social media. but investing some time can pay off in the end. I use instapaper for this sort of thing. cultivate sources. and I need to weed out the bad content. I move down the stack into the larger folders like Twitter. Where to Consume You don’t watch newspaper on the TV. and you can’t see the radio host. When this folder is done. then something is wrong. This folder is easy to clean out in like 20 minutes. and it drives most of my pleasure.Organize For You Your #1 folder is your protective cradle of what you enjoy best. but long form journalism deserves the iPad or Kindle treatment. I find it easier to consume stuff in different ways. like tweets can be read in the Google Reader.
Social media distinguishes itself from less versatile interactive mediums of the past like print and traditional advertising by giving life to the Intelligent User. 2010 by Matt Herron | 16 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. On the Internet. for example. Social Media. consumers are used to the old paradigm where they listen passively and marketers tell them what to think. It didn’t exist in previous mediums. In marketing. interaction is more involved and the Intelligent User — as the consequence of this new system — has overtaken the old paradigm. The interaction only moves in one direction. This modern distinction is often misunderstood by web developers and underappreciated by users because the power of choice is a novel distinction. Briefly Defined .How do you use social media? Why have you chosen to engage in social media? How Social Media Works and the Role of the Intelligent User May 14th.
what is social media? Briefly — for the benefit of those of you living under a rock for the past half-dozen years — it is the integration of technology and social interaction. think blogs. and some makes the tiniest of ripples. Old Techniques. The "phenomenon" is not new. but each choice is made by an Intelligent User. Social media works similarly to how word of mouth worked before the Internet. and audio: Content." – Anne Kavanagh. The Misconception With millions of people contributing to social media. the "phenomenon" is that word spreads faster than ever on the Internet through the web of connections built by social media. as I’ve explained. When you see social media. Some content spreads like wildfire." Word does not spread through social media "unquestioningly. . Which is why an explanation similar to the following — to explain how content spreads — is promptly furnished by anyone who doesn’t fully understand the mechanism: "The credibility allocated instantly and unquestioningly to just about anything that is read online is a new phenomenon. New Delivery We can clear up Kavanagh’s misconception by explaining how social media actually works. Word seems to spread "instantly" online. and Twitter. pictures. video. there is no direction to the "phenomenon. Kavanagh was right about one thing. It’s not even a phenomenon. They also share ideas. The misconception is that in Kavanagh’s explanation of social media. through personal connections — at an unprecedented rate. and people are sharing more than words. How does social media work? I’ve always heard that the best advertising is word of mouth. but her understanding is flawed. Global Travel Retail Returning to the ‘word of mouth’ comparison. She offers decent advice.First of all. The infrastructure of social media is built for millions of immediate minute interactions. The best explanation for social media is that it’s word of mouth on steroids. there is a lot of noise. only now it’s amplified and recorded by technology. Marketing campaigns based on this flawed understanding will never tap the full potential if the audience is treated like a mysterious phenomenon instead of a group of Intelligent Users. Then other users share that content — in turn." It does not spread without thought or purpose. Facebook.
and most importantly. they can measure. as Kavanagh suggests. Listen to your users. 2. Remember that you’re there to help them. as Nietzsche named his new philosophers. It could make the product. Here are some things you can do to humanize your experience. give it when no one asks. Remember. but their feedback is important. and overall their changes have been an improvement on the experience. learn to recognize it. Give feedback whenever developers ask! In fact. But don’t forget that you’re making a product for the users. Go with your first instincts when using new products. The Implications To recap. Not only can interested parties follow the conversation. Don’t be afraid of failure. It is a multifunctional two-way communication system made up of millions of Intelligent Users. Social Media is not digital paper. 1. it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. but don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism. So put something in. Who knows what you’ll get in return? 2. Be patient. Your experience is based on your willingness to experience. * This is a subject open to debate and I am referring to the advantageous changes in the design. Interact – Don’t be afraid of change. especially the negative feedback. New ideas brought us here. . To Developers You are the innovators (or. Your users don’t know as much as you do. don’t be afraid when they protest new ideas. So what does this mean for you? To the Intelligent Users You’re not just a statistic. 1. perhaps even the whole industry. Although you must be attentive to your users. but Facebook kept moving forward.You can literally watch it happen on a website like Twitter. what counts is how many times you get back up. assess and even. and new ideas will lead us to the future. 3. Try it for yourself before you pass judgment. People are naturally averse to change. Facebook users protested the changes many times. It’s an investment. the more you get back. It is not just a bunch of noise. Positive feedback is always welcome. influence its direction.* 3. better. the attempters). too. Try new things. The more you put into social media sites. not the other issues. not scare them off with your intimidating technological prowess.
we’ve built a dedicated online following without the backing of any other established website. influential. From would-be bloggers to potentially successful entrepreneurs. Moreover. the number of people sharing the common goal of online success is staggering – a number rivaled only by the number of people wishing they knew how to achieve it. Matty Craig. . with my business partner. Over the last month. The Internet is packed with opportunities for unique. I.Launching a Blog Successfully in 15 Days May 12th. A design and development blog that I’ve been involved in — AddToDesign — has been visited by hundreds of thousands of people and recommended by thousands of social media users in the short time that it has been up. 2010 by Mathew Carpenter | 57 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. have seen online success — albeit on a much smaller scale than some of the Internet’s leading blogs or authoritative websites. and ambitious people to succeed.
resource-style posts. I’ve had an equal number of online publishing assumptions squashed flat. 3. 2. and your own network is. third. Besides the most obvious currency for return visitors – quality content – we found several key elements that we believe brought people back to AddToDesign for second. That’s why our initial content wasn’t designed to lure in readers and have them exit quickly. we’ve built a popular website in a very competitive field without any of the resources that many people believe are requirements. We have more competitions coming up. our initial goals weren’t related to generating revenue. but to draw in an audience that would stay with us long term. In the early days of the blog. and our content hasn’t been pieced together by a research team or stable of professional writers. and other engaging content can increase the amount of time readers spend on your website. our aim was to increase engagement and create a resource that readers would return to. I’ve had beliefs that I once held to be completely true. and even act as a reason for them to subscribe. each offering its own set of challenges and difficulties. How launching a major website isn’t that difficult. aimed at achieving the same purpose: keeping long-term readers with us and building a subscribership base rather than a quick spurt of initial traffic. What steps are required to rise above competitors initially. My story aims to demonstrate several things: 1.Our marketing efforts weren’t commissioned and carried out by online superstars. Our goals were all related to popularity and increased readership. our design wasn’t built on a huge budget or expansive scale. While we do plan on opening up AddToDesign to advertisers. Our initial goals weren’t a flood of traffic. disproved. AddToDesign’s rapid growth has taught me some interesting lessons in online promotion. In essence. partnerships. . Use Engaging Content One key element was the use of blog competitions. How important social media. and fourth reads. but a flood of traffic that remained on our website. Increasing User Engagement Is the Initial Goal There are hundreds of reasons to launch a blog. Competitions. While we’re far from the pinnacle of online success.
aren’t interesting to the stereotypical social news site users. yes. As we grow older and gain a greater list of subscribers. or Twitter is relatively low — these types of topics. business contacts. and don’t freak out if you’re receiving less traffic that you’d like – it’ll even out in the end. business. How Social Media Plays a Big Part at the Start It’s obviously difficult to provide promotional advice that applies to every blog. we have a feeling that social media traffic may peel away slightly. Measure engagement times (using handy software like Google Analytics) and subscriber count in the early days. social media contributes approximately 45-50 percent of our traffic. The most successful social media efforts we had were those which moved through real friends. I had some early assumptions about the value of social media as a marketing tool. and the majority of its users are squandering it by focusing on flimsy connections. This is very high for a blog. the coast is relatively clear when it comes to social news site marketing opportunities.A blog is a long-term investment — we accepted that from the start — and it’s essential for us to build a deep connection with our readers right from the start. Social Media Can Be a Huge Source of Site Traffic at the Start At the moment. and build more long-term reader connections. There are blogs out there aimed at helping people fix nail fungus and cataloging junk food.000 unique visitors – an overwhelming amount for a relatively new website. . real networking is by far the most important strategy for promoting your blog. AddToDesign received 150. In its first ten days of existence. Authentic Social Networking Firstly. become more visible in search results. Reddit. Social media has given us all a valuable chance to interact. Do You Need to Network to Succeed? Put simply. or online presence. several of which were proven untrue by the results they gave us. in general. But for a design blog. but we can attribute it to the fact that we’re the new kids on the block and our website isn’t clearly visible in the search engines yet. and power users – not the result of mindlessly expanding our follower lists or LinkedIn accounts. The chance of any of them succeeding on social news sites like Digg.
there appears to be a tipping point where frequency of updating a website becomes less important in blogging. misjudgments. While it’s far from complex to piece together the content required for a blog. This is something that comes with your content — newsstyle blogs will ultimately see a quick drop in traffic as publishing slows. we’ve been visited by people from over 25 different countries. and social media spamming. and it was certainly a learning experience that I won’t forget. or at least barely attended to. impersonal email blasts. Even Sergey Brin. A range of popular blogs (and websites. Looking back over the launch. the schedule. while timeless content may receive attention forever. it’s very likely that your audience and influence will quickly taper off. there are hundreds of small errors. It all comes down to real connections — not false friendships. your contacts. and the reason to update a high-traffic blog regularly. What Would We Do Differently? AddToDesign is the first high-traffic blog I’ve launched. Without the energy. only seems to update his personal blog once in a blue moon. Thanks to the extreme variety within the design world. guest posting on a wide variety of blogs. How did this flood of traffic happen? Through the natural connections we’d built over the years before our launch. and your publishing schedule — can be quite tiring. blogging can feel like a full time job. By connecting with website owners. Almost 150 of them subscribed to our blog. and consistently aiming to help people in our field. we created real connections that allowed us the privilege of guest posting to their blogs upon launch. some of which predate blogging software) have sat dormant for several months without seeing their traffic disappear. but for the . The sad reality is that most blogs go unattended. and assumptions that could have been fixed given the perspective we’ve gained. This is not a field for get-rich-quick schemers and would-be successes — in many ways. and we were forced to take the entire website down for several hours and move to a new host. and over 400 are now following us on Twitter. the co-founder of Google.Our traffic extended to the point where our ultra-cheap server simply couldn’t handle everything. With that said. How Much Maintenance Does a High-Traffic Blog Need? Maintaining a high-traffic blog isn’t a simple task. the sheer amount of effort required to manage the other things — your audience.
promoting it through social media. If you’ve launched your own blog. . We could have networked with more bloggers. but I certainly don’t know everything about how to succeed as a blogger.most part. but also fantastic because it’s helped us learn so much more information that we will use going ahead. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. For example. We could have put an opt-in form on our website to keep Diggers there longer. Reddit. The Ingredients of a Successful Website March 6th. regardless of how refined or complete it may be. please share your experiences with us in the comments. and the like. 2010 by Jacob Gube | 28 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. and had more media out there to support us during the launch. What Has Helped You Succeed Online? Launching a blog. What matters most — at least to me — is that we put our blog together and made it visible. Looking back on the launch is frustrating as there are lots of small things we could have changed. they’re not a large cause for concern. we could have built a greater presence on social bookmarking websites – Digg. The thing is. but on other future Web ventures. but we didn’t. made more connections. and building connections in the blogging world has helped me change a lot of my preconceptions. it’s not a huge problem that we missed out on opportunities along the way. not just on AddToDesign.
which gives out different prizes every day of Design Instruct Week. it clearly shows through to your audience. This week on Six Revisions covers topics that deal with running websites and design. you have to know your subject inside and out. a weeklong celebration of our newly launched site. Design Instruct. Two years later. In this article. It has an abundance of minutia tasks that need to be done when you’d rather be doing something else. Unyielding passion for your work Growing a web project takes time and dedication. The definition of "success" is different to everyone. give up. Being knowledgeable about your subject is about creating trust: Internet users are wary about the things they consume on the Web. When you’re not well informed. I define success as having a large audience that consists of readers from all over the globe that love and enjoy your work as much as you do. written by the founders/editors of Design Instruct and Six Revisions. If you can’t prove to them that you can be trusted. Be sure to check out the Design Instruct Week Twitter Giveaway. the site has reached a point that I would consider "successful".The first published article on Six Revisions was about the things you need for a web project to succeed. they have thousands of other sites to choose from. To me. I would like to reflect and share with you the things I consider to be the ingredients of our recipe for success and growth. Talented people . Building a website necessitates a schedule that would make anyone but those who are truly passionate and dedicated to their idea. This article is part of Design Instruct Week. Do you have it in you? A strong knowledge about your subject Whether you’re building an email app that will revolutionize the way people do emails or a web publication about baking cookies. It involves many days with little or no sleep.
and ideas. When things start to build up. Design Instruct and Six Revisions wouldn’t be able to advance without a solid partner. fresh ideas. Critics are a penny a dozen on the Web—the Internet gives people a cloak of anonymity that make it a piece of cake for raffish individuals to say negative things about your web project just for kicks. and passion to the table. yet I was fearful to put my fate in the hands of just anyone. when we believe in something so steadfastly. we’ve found a few of them that have decided to join our family (you can see just some of them on the About page). I spend a lot of my time working with our writers. It’s no secret that the largest component that drives the continual growth of Six Revisions and Design Instruct are their brilliant writers. This is when I approached my brother (Isaac) to team up with me. He’s an illustrator and photographer by trade. and I’m almost certain that your web project won’t be able to either. I knew I needed someone who would be better than I am with visual art and design. Discovering people with the same passion and belief is rare. we tend to shut these voices of alternative thoughts out. They have a vested interest in your growth and have entrusted you with the responsibility of constantly improving yourself to meet their needs. An open ear to your audience Your users have a lot to say. in order to carry forward your growth and keep up with demands. regardless of whether you consider them competition or not. there are also many people with ideas and suggestions that can make your site better. They have taken the time to share these ideas at no cost to you but your time to listen to them. our two sites wouldn’t be where they are now. For Design Instruct. Partners that complement your skills In the first article of Six Revisions. suggestions. you need to collaborate with someone. Thankfully.The foundation of any web startup is the people that have built it. I said that you should avoid going solo for your web project. However. I also knew that I couldn’t run two sites on my own. and someone who—regardless of our relationship—is vastly dissimilar from me. Without them. Oftentimes. but have now since moved onto web development and web design. When we are . Take advantage of the collective nature of the Internet by listening to your users’ opinions. It’s important to foster and create relationships with people in your industry. Relationships with people in your industry The Web has the ability to connect us with people that we might not be in close proximity to. I was a graphic designer back in the days when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. as well as helping them grow their own websites. skills. He has brought his knowledge.
On the Web.working together rather than against each other. Make it a habit to reach out and contact the people in your industry. frequently find me in the trenches of Smashing Magazine and Envato comment sections). just like your budget and your technology infrastructure. Taking risks What stuns advancement of any project is the fear of change. In a realm where things move very quickly. without a doubt. see if there are opportunities to team up and build something together. we can drive innovation and grow together instead of creating a counterproductive environment. being a stick in the mud will only make sure that the people around you that are taking all the risks will be reaping the rewards instead of you. It’s part of being knowledgeable about your subject and is something your audience expects you to be doing. join panels. What are your own ingredients for success? Let’s talk about them in the comments below. Participate on discussions in their website (you can. for example. trade war stories. 6 Things You Need for Your Web Project to Succeed February 2nd. when things change so rapidly and interests are fickle. write on other web publications. write books. Looking out for opportunities to grow The reason I personally respond to every email (I get hundreds a week) and carve out blocks of my time to partake in interviews. it’s imperative to maintain your information current. and thus. being risk-adverse is not a good trait to have. has contributed to the growth of my own web projects. and other activities that may not have a direct impact on Six Revisions or Design Instruct is because I never want to end up saying. Effective time management skills Having a good time and task management habit ensures that you can keep up with the growth of your web project. participate in discussions. 2008 by Jacob Gube | 12 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious . Time is the primary limiting factor to your growth. and just get yourself on their radar." Being receptive to possibilities outside of the websites that I run. Staying informed about the happenings in your industry Keeping up with the events happening around you is critical. Especially on the Web. "I wish I’d done that. you have to treat it as a resource. Fear of change leads to fewer or no innovations.
creating profit-generating web applications (like a derivative facebook site). and I present them here. things won’t happen. by Andrea Mercado I’ve had thousands of conversations about initiating startup companies. selling IT products or services online. when you have other obligations that take up the majority of your day. Eventually. Being at an age where I’m just beginning to carve my path in the real world. I tend to have many peers and co-workers who constantly think about making an income besides sitting in front of the computer eight to ten hours a day in a windowless room.Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. you won’t be able to commit the time and resources needed to get things rolling. Who wants to sit in front of their computer after work to design the UI interface of your application or draft a . right below playing “teh gamez”). In addition. I began to see characteristics that I feel are needed in order for your own project to succeed. and you’ll constantly put your project second on your to-do list (i.e. If you’re comfortable with your current salary and you need the promise of eating at least one meal a day (sans ramen noodles). why change it? If you can’t commit wholeheartedly to your endeavor. and putting up blogs. Don’t be afraid to commit.
“Just do it”. Right on the onset of your project. just to help pay the bills”. or (c) a combination of both. or (c) coming up with something else that you’re equally passionate about.business proposal to pitch to a small-business venture investor when you’ve already used most of your thinking and creative energy at something else? While talking to a friend of mine who’s in the midst of developing a startup company. (b) adjusting your commitment to other duties and responsibilities. and marketable way. a random person you met at the bars) or pitching it to a potential investor. hard decisions are going to be tough to settle without another person (or two) calling the shots. When you’re asked about your idea. you’re peddling. If it takes more than five minutes to describe your idea. Whether you’re talking to an acquaintance about your idea (i. I’m not asking you to quit your day job (that would be hypocritical of me). Put yourself in the situation where there’s no other alternative to success. but can manage do to in your spare time. (b) you’re clueless as to what needs to happen — so you should develop your ideas further. There are several reasons why a single founder is bound to fail. these points give your audience the basics of what you’re trying to accomplish. do you have the right people to make it happen? Besides helping you conceptualize your idea in a more graspable way. but you may have to consider (a) scaling down your project to something you can manage on a parttime basis. set your goals and develop your idea in a presentable way. clear. and how does it compliment your skill set? In other words. “I think I’m gonna try and get a part-time job somewhere. and allows them to comment/suggest things constructively. For one. it says that the concept is either (a) too complex — so you should consider simplifying. Before doing anything. To which I responded with. there should first be a clear definition of goals and what it is.e. or how are you different from what’s already out there? Who are you working with. you should be able to respond in a concise. exactly. “There isn’t a better motivation then ‘hungry’”. You can ask anyone who knows me. Take a leap of faith in your ability to succeed and overcome the obstacles of your projects. one of my most-used phrases is a rip-off from Nike. Avoid going solo. . I heard the ultimate startup killer. Things won’t happen and there will always be impasse’s between you and yourself. you should always be prepared to cover these questions: • • • • How do you describe your project in two to three sentences? Who are you selling to and what’s your plan-of-attack to reach and market to them? Why would people attain services or products from you.
business school MBA grads). you’ll be stuck in the water. How would you expect employees to commit to developing your idea when you won’t commit to keeping them on board? When your employees jump ship. A good-sized decision-making team (drawn from observation and experience) is two to three diverse (but like-minded in the end result) individuals. design. “full-of-big-ideas”. We will all have varying skill sets and personalities that compliments each other. Your success hinges on the people working with and for you. cars. so to speak. you can motivate each other to keep things going. You have to be passionate (borderline obsessive) about your idea. etc). set-up. a professional consumer technology editor working for a magazine. because this shows your lack of interest (and most probably your lack of expertise) in your chosen area. When your startup relies on other people (programmers. Personally. I. simplistic. has. If you’re not passionate about your plan. you have to keep them on the payroll. Look at profit as just one of the benefits of accomplishing your project. and important decisions not being made in time. the person who’s in between the two extreme personalities. say. I believe a three-person team is the way to go because there won’t be any ties when issues are being decided upon. would choose a more open-minded. I lack neither the extreme fervor to get it up and running. you have to pick the right people. I’d pick someone that falls in the middle. of what the other partners lack. Being a cheapskate when it comes to human resources will cost you a lot in the long run. nor the expertise that.Also. with a partner. and start publishing stories. and once you do. But there’s the other extreme. and we each “fill in the blanks”. When you follow . Hire (and pay) well. graphics designers. person A’s idea of “let’s make a myspace derivative… only we give the user even more freedom to customize their page” might be swayed by person B’s more even-keeled reasoning. PDA’s. Then. come up with something else. business-savvy peer to be in a startup with. You can’t be in it just to make a boatload of cash. and lacking business/marketing sense. it took me two days to launch. and it’s the “too many cooks/chiefs/shot-caller” team. akin to having a workout buddy to force yourself to go to the gym. Although these are things I’m knowledgeable and deeply involved in. This runs into the problem of things being argued constantly. being technical. someone I’d dub “the mediator”. I’ve been trying (for almost two months) to launch a blog that my brother and I co-founded (about consumer-related topics such as mobile phones. Don’t make money your sole goal. If decisions were made in a group. there won’t be enough diversity in generating ideas and problem-solving processes. With Six Revisions. a lot of profanity-slinging. For example. Additionally. For example.
or make a mistake that your super-PHP-expert friend warned you from the start about SQL injections — listen keenly and avoid the temptation to shut them out just because they’re not saying what you want to hear. All in all. Believe it or not. “Thanks for the input. 2010 by Jacob Gube | 49 Comments | Stumble It! Delicious Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions. other people are smart. This says that even though you’re not going with their idea or suggestion — it still indicates that you appreciate their input and that you’re always open to any ideas they may have in the future. I’d like to hear your thoughts about the subject.your passion instead of chasing after the dollar bills. in the end. things happen quickly and successfully. My biggest suggestion is to believe in yourself and don’t doubt your abilities… if you don’t think it’ll work. simply say. If you shut out these valuable resources.com’s spot in the social bookmarking arena. I think these are things you should keep in mind and try to have when you’re thinking of that next big project that will oust digg. If you feel their criticisms or suggestions are wrong or won’t work in your case. reasonable. I can almost guarantee that you’ve killed your idea right there. What are the other ingredients for succeeding in your projects? Drop a comment! 10 Simple Tips for Launching a Website March 3rd. . and experienced too. Be confident and unyielding. but listen to what other people are trying to say. You have to believe in your idea. you’ll have no one to else to blame but yourself. Don’t miss out on an angle that you failed to see. you should have the mindset of proving your naysayers wrong… but always listen to what your peers have to say. but I think I got it”.
There are many things you want to do.NET. 1. Be sure to check out the Design Instruct Week Twitter Giveaway. but not enough time and resources to do them. a weeklong celebration of our newly launched site. I’ll share with you some tips for launching a website based on the experience of our own launch of Design Instruct. which gives out different prizes every day of Design Instruct Week. we set up a CDN for distributing static files for our content-heavy pages. written by the founders/editors of Design Instruct and Six Revisions. Highavailability. . However. you can affordably have web servers that can take a beating from high-burst traffic. Not only will having scalable solutions prepare you for the high-traffic that a website launch can generate. For Design Instruct. even though it might seem like a herculean task. but it also future-proof’s your set-up as your website grows. and on-demand instant scalability offerings of hosting providers such as VPS.The process of launching a website can be a daunting endeavor. metered set-ups give you the ability to pay for just the resources you need right now. This article is part of Design Instruct Week. Design Instruct. you can ensure a hassle-free website launch. as long as you keep some fundamental things in mind. and scaled up our VPS resources temporarily on the day of the site launch because we were anticipating a huge burst of traffic. Have scalable web server resources With today’s high-availability and cost-effective content distribution solutions such as Amazon S3. In this article. This week on Six Revisions covers topics that deal with running websites and design.
On Design Instruct. Facebook. This guarantees that your preferred account name will be available before you become known and gives your visitors additional ways to communicate with as soon as they arrive at your website. MySpace. 2. 3. and any other site that you’re planning to engage in. social networking is integral to a website. For example. Don’t risk having your website crash and your launch day ruined because of a shoddy web server. we had our Twitter account set up close to a month ahead of our site launch. it’s never a bad idea to get a web hosting solution that will scale—they’re tremendously affordable and you pay only for what you intend to use. . One timesaving deed you can do is to have content ready to publish so that you can follow up your launch with great content. This also frees you up for the many other activities involved in this stage of your website’s growth. Have content ready to publish for at least a month The early stages of a website is filled with many tasks. our social media accounts were established well before the site’s launch date.Regardless of how big or small you think the traffic you’ll get is. Get all of your social media accounts beforehand Nowadays. Don’t wait the last minute to sign up and set up your social network accounts on Twitter.
don’t let the initial interest fizzle out by not having a plan. 4. though we had enough to comfortably go ahead with the launch. Before you launch. 5. That didn’t prevent us from dropping hints that there was something coming soon. And those are the people that count the most when your website launches. We didn’t quite make that goal before our launch date. Plan your tasks for at least a month after the site launch The worst question to have after a site launch is. Drop hints about the upcoming launch to build anticipation Let people know that there’s an event that’s going to occur to help create some hype. you should know exactly how you want to proceed right after. . we set out to have 10 tutorials ready to go before we launched the site. If you’ve planned for a big site launch. We did it through interviews and on Twitter a month ahead of the actual launch date. In Design Instruct’s case. If you want to keep the details undisclosed to the public—that’s fine—you can still let people know that something on some date is going to happen.For Design Instruct. This enabled us to focus on tasks that needed to be tended to without fear that we wouldn’t have great content to publish. This type of subtle hinting can pique the interests of your long-time supporters and fans. we wanted to wait until the actual launch before revealing what the site was. "Now what?" You need a clear goal and direction on how you intend to follow through your site’s launch.
It gave the impression that there was something wrong. so please check back soon!" to let users know that the pages do work. At Design Instruct. commenting systems. measure thrice. We still went ahead with the launch and created a malleable and constantly updated Upcoming Features page that listed the things we wanted to do in the future. we had a laundry list of things we wanted to work on. We’re working on it though. 8. What can cripple and delay a website launch is the attitude of "It’ll be ready when it’s ready. on Design Instruct. we were delayed with some of the site features we wanted to implement. 6. Launch on schedule Whether you’ve announced your launch date or not. Triple-check the technical details before going live Measure twice. We had to revise the message to say. Users visiting a category page from the sidebar links that didn’t have an associated tutorial under it simply said that the page could not be found. Better yet. such as a comment rating system and a post rating system. Check to make sure that all hyperlinks work. we were able to focus on growing the site and improving the user experience for our readers. "There aren’t any posts in this category yet. Let them know that you’ve launched the site so that they can be the first to see it. Websites aren’t like conventional consumer products—you can update and upgrade them any time you want. and all the other things that your users will interface with.For example. Make ultra-sure that contact forms. One of the late quick fixes we had to implement just hours before Design Instruct’s launch had something to do with category pages. you should release your website to the public when you say you’re going to. is working properly. email accounts." When you’re nearing launch day and you think you won’t have the site fully completed. Contact your friends and family about the site launch The first thing to do after a site has launched is to contact your friends and family. launch anyway (as long as it’s presentable and usable). just that there aren’t anything in them yet. This forces you to stay on point and work towards a goal. Making certain that your early visitors will have the best experience possible when first arriving at your site means that everything needs to be working correctly. We would curate this list by adding and removing items based on what our users want. cut once. . 7. Having content ready to publish.
we had several modes of communication available: email. We were also able to discover bugs via reports in comments and Twitter such as the error in color profiles in our CSS sprite and forgetting to set up RSS auto-discovery. anything you think your users will want and need is just a guess. Abduzeedo. 10. they should be the first to know about your site’s launch. Show site visitors a roadmap of what’s to come Perhaps the most important thing you can do when you launch a site is to show your initial users that there’s more to come. . Twitter. we still sent personal emails to our friends at Smashing Magazine. and the comments section in the welcome post on Design Instruct. The people who will best help you figure out what works for your users are your users. Your initial visitors are early adopters. We’ve periodically polled our supporters and fans through Twitter to determine what we should do next. as well as suggest ways you can improve the site for future users. Provide easy ways of contacting you When you first launch a site. they’ll be critical and will help you find things that might be wrong with the site. and as such. Envato and others. and what they wanted to see in the future. We announced the site launch here on Six Revisions so that our regular readers would be the first to know about our new site. 9. the comments section in the announcement post on Six Revisions. you have to give visitors ways to communicate with you easily. Unless you release your website. No one gets a site right on the first day. It doesn’t matter how big your list of friends and family is. For Design Instruct. However. So we’ve set up an Upcoming Features page and asked our users to tell us what they want and what they don’t want. This enabled us to find out what early adopters thought about the site.Our friends list is just a bit larger than most people just starting out.
We also track all of our site changes publicly through our changelog and version history to show our readers that we are indeed moving forward with their suggestions. Share your own tips for launching a website in the comments. . Let your users see that you have more tricks up your sleeve and that they should stay on for the ride as your website continues to grow.
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