5 Reasons You Should Start Tweeting

My name is Jono Landon and I’m an internet business developer in Toronto Canada and recently I felt the need to write about my top 5 reasons you should start tweeting.

Even as someone who knows a lot about social networks, until recently the real value of twitter was somewhat hidden from me.  I say “real value” because though I’ve understood twitter from a text book point of view, it wasn’t until I started to depend on it that I really got it.  And to be honest, I think there is still much for me to learn.

So what caused this new dependancy? well I happen to be launching a new niche social network here in my home town, Toronto.  Our target early adopters are mommy bloggers and once I started connecting with this unique and exciting breed online, it didn’t take long to see how twitter is the glue that holds this group together.  And well, you gota be where your market is.

The way I can best sum up Twitter, is that it’s like texting with your friends but doing it publicly.  Being that it’s public, it’s a great way to bring other interested parties into the conversation.  So when someone is searching twitter for something they need and they find your conversation about it, they find you.  If you are someone who can help them solve their problem then you’ve got a opportunity in your hands.  That opportunity could be a business lead, restaurant recommendation, up to date traffic info… you name it, people are tweeting it.

Tweeting takes some time to figure out, but there are only a few things you need to get used to.  Like reading words with symbols before them (#, @) and learning how to express lots of meaning within 140 characters. Here are my top 5 reasons you should start tweeting.

  1. It will improve your communication skills. Twitter forces you to communicate a message that is engaging within a 140 maximum character limit.  This is an exercise in being concise and clear.  I can’t think of a more valuable lesson for writers, especially copy writers.
  2. It’s a great way to meet people you relate to.  People find each other based around topics that matter to them.  Where else are there millions of people in one place looking to connect about topics at all hours of the day.  It has simply never existed before.  For example, while connecting with mommy bloggers on twitter I met @elizabethtraub, had a very enjoyable hour long phone conversation during which I learned about her talented musician daughter Emily Otteson.  I happen to also work in the music industry so this was a lot of fun.
  3. It requires virtually no investment.  Not only are there millions of people looking to connect but they are doing it in a incredibly simple, convenient, fast, and free way.
  4. It’s a lot of fun.  It’s like a puzzle, trying to get your message across in 140 characters.  When you’re forced to be concise, you start to learn which words are essential and which words encapsulate many others.  It’s a game.
  5. It will ensure you are not out to lunch with progress. Though it takes a little more labor to get into the grove then facebook does, this things isn’t going any where so you might as well at least give try and see what all the fuss is about.

I’m sure I’m going to write more about Twitter down the road as I continue to use it and see more value.  In the mean time, I hope this helps shed some light on this strange but incredibly powerful form of connecting with others.  Happy tweeting!

What’s Your Startup’s Growth Strategy?

A couple of weeks ago someone suggested I read the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.  So I went and did just that, and I’m very happy I did. As a product management guy, this book is invaluable and does a wonderful job of clarifying essential methods for any startup to employ.

There are many activities that businesses can engage in to create new customers but there exists three main mechanisms of growth that determine the kind of activities that should be tried, tested and optimized.

Let me clarify that this post in no ways means to discuss how much value you are offering your customers. I want to zone in on the mechanism that makes businesses able to expand and continually offer their products or services to new customers.

Eric Ries does a superb job of summing them up in the following categories.

Sticky Growth: This refers to businesses that brings in new customers and grows by retaining them. They need to be focusing their attention on tracking the attrition or churn rate which is a fraction of customers in a defined period who no longer engage with the product.  If the rate of acquiring new customer is greater than the churn rate, it will grow.  An example of this would be a mobile phone service provider whose goal is for you to remain a customer for a long a possible, in contrast with a car manufacturer who is focused on selling you at least just one car.

Viral Growth: Refers to a product that creates new customers directly from the usage of current customers. Inherent in this growth strategy is that the product itself delivers the most benefit to a customer when shared with others. The most obvious example of this kind of product is a social network. The goal is to create a viral coefficient of at least 1 so that there is a continued rate of growth. Anything lower than 1 means the growth rate will slow down to an eventual halt.

Paid Growth: This refers to a business that needs to sell it’s product at least one time per customer but the cost of acquiring a new customer (CPA) is low enough that the business can afford to continue acquiring new customers while still generating profit.  So take two different companies, one sells a product for $1 and purchases sponsored links on Google Adwords with a CPA of $0.80, while the other sells a service that costs $100,000 and pays sales people a salary and purchases commercial slots on t.v. networks with a CPA of $80,000.  They both have the exact same rate of growth which is 20% of their revenue that is now left over to acquire new customers.  The CPA will be divided among different things depending on the business.  A car dealership will pay for commercials and commissions on the sales, whereas a cafe will try to plop itself in the middle of a highly trafficked tourist area where there is heavy foot traffic.  The CPA has to be deducted from the lifetime value of the customer (LTV) and the revenue will then be invested back into advertising, locations etc.

Here’s the thing about growth strategies… they are just as important as the quality and value of the product for each customer.  You can build an amazing widget but if you can’t optimize a growth strategy that continues without dumps of unsustainable advertising or offering incentives that you can’t afford to offer long term, you don’t have a winning business.

The lean approach comes in to this equation by forcing you to test the growth strategy before you purchase wear houses and fill them with your manufactured products, or lease a really expensive storefront.  You can apply the same thought to a new social network you dreamed up and spent 6 months coding.  If you haven’t yet gathered early adopters and tested whether your viral loop is functioning with at least some viral coefficient the you believe you can optimize, then you might not be ready to make the leap to hiring 2 more programmers “Facebook level salaries” just yet.

Another important factor to consider is whether you are focusing your efforts into one growth strategy or trying to accomplish multiple strategies at once.  It’s very tempting to look at your product concept and envision how it will work for this or that segment and but you should consider if you really have the resources to specialize in more than one growth strategy.   Technically speaking there are businesses that operate with more than one growth strategy but they are developed businesses that have had focused success and then developed the resources to utilize other approaches.  Having different growth mechanisms requires different operational expertise and if you are a startup then the likelihood of accommodating that is low.  A successful startup is one that found a market and created a product that offers value to them and creates a sustainable engine of growth.  That is huge success when that happens and there is no need to layer on confusion that will take away from your chances of hitting that win.



How to really lead a company.

So when listening to a podcast of Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership series I heard about this amazing writer and speaker named Simon Sinek.

This guys has hit the nail on the head with his book titled “Start With Why”.

His main point is that the thing that differentiates great companies from all others is how they portray their reason for doing what they do.  Take a company like Apple for instance. Is it not clear that they love making products that are super sexy and fun to use?  Or that hey want to do it the absolute best way they can, which is different then everyone else doing it?  If you have ever walked into an Apple store, or used one of their products you would know that the answer is yes.  They exude an attitude of, “yeah, this is how we think it should be because this is what we think is the best way to do it”.  End of story and they don’t care about your opinion because they are so freaking confident that they have figured it out.

I really don’t know an average tech consumer who hasn’t loved their apple product or overall experience.  That’s not to say that I don’t know tech geeks who have other opinions on the subject but even they get it.

Well, according to Simon Sinek, this is because Steve Jobs refused to always bring his business back to “why” they were doing what they were doing.

So without further a due, check out this video to hear it from the horse’s mouth.