Tag Archive | market

Two Year Anniversary – Stop Crying

New Years 2014 Fire Works

The Spark n Launch Team celebrate with some backyard fireworks…

According to WordPress we just celebrated our two year anniversary – two years since we registered this account. Since our first blog post we have published over 100 articles and written another 100 draft posts. The site attracts traffic from around the world and continues to increase it’s readership. Thanks to all our loyal followers!

Unfortunately most of the traffic is spam bots, and the quality & frequency of our posts has diminished. Nevertheless we will try and keep up the web presence. If you’re interested in guest blogging or want some links shared, get in touch. Drop us a comment and share some love!

For those looking for some inspiration, check out some of our published posts below. Got a favourite post – tweet it!

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In The Beginning:
Hello world! *
Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare
Working for the “Man” (Draft)

WordPress Links:
About
Social
Glossary *****
Tools
Table of Content (TOC) *****

Startups – Lists:
The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (2012) *****
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50) *****

Startups – People:
Fabrice Grinda – Musings of a Serial Entrepreneur
Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com
The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Startups – Stories:
Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories *****
14 Year Old Girl: "Stop making excuses, make something awesome”
Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus *****
Samsung's Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss *****

Startups – Lean:
The History of Lean Startup by Steve Blank *****
Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day
The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days?
Building Your Minimum ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)

Startups – Weekends:
Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
Startup Weekend: What to Expect?
Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0) *****
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 1) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 2) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 3) (Draft)

Entrepreneur:
The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Business Ideas / Business Planning:
How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy? ****
Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark
Business Plans – "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" (includes business plan template)
Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria
Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan *****
Step 1 – Where to Begin
How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken? *****
Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About ****

Customer Development:
Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea
A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups *****

People / Management:
Why Being a Deal Maker Matters To Your Team

Social Media / Blogging:
Twitter – Tweeting to your #audience
The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth ****
Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

Social Media – Experiments:
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
Technorati – Does the verification process work?
Technorati – Does the verification process work? (Yes it does!)
Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

Brand / Marketing:
Picking a name – The importance of brand
Affiliate Marketing 101
Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views ****
Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords
Happy V Day – Seasonal Opportunities
The Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Traffic / SEO:
How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day) ****
Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike ****

Design:
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral ****

Toolkit:
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs
Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo ****
Podcasts – Hearing and Learning From Others
Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers
New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online

Funding:
Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter
Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes ***
Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
Startup Funding: I’m 15 With An Amazing Product Idea
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available In Europe
Raising Money (Draft)
Working Full Time and Bootstrapping Your Business Startup (Draft)

Web:
Web Stats – Who is top of the league table? ***

Rants / Musings:
Why is everything broken? (Draft)
Getting Real – It’s a project, not a startup (Draft)
Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience
The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)
To Code or Not To Code

Messages:
100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Be the First to Like Us on Facebook
Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)
Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts
New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?
Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)
Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?
Upcoming Posts – Please Vote
Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype

Weird / Unclassified:
It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11
Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
Random Generated Startup – Life gets easier (again)
Get hired with the help of your friend, Mark Zuckerberg?
The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
Technology – Is a black pixel on or off? ****
Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February
April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
How the $16bn Facebook IPO looks like in cash (Image) **

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

This Site Gets More Hits than You

Cute Cute Little Cat

Cute Cute Little Cat

Reddit, the supposed frontpage of the Internet drags in a massive amount of traffic. It records, approximately:

+ 15 million unique visits per month
+ 50 – 100 thousand unique visits per hour
+ 150 million pageviews by month
+ 100 – 250 thousand pageviews by month
+ 5 million pageviews by day
+ 8 thousand subscriptions by day

It’s ranked 27th in the US and 69th in the world by Alexa!

The numbers are amazing and explains why Reddit has become such a popular place for visitors, including spammers. While the community is quite harsh on spam, there are various places where you can advertise legitimately. A successful post could drive millions of visitors to your site. Scary!

So next time you see a cute cat picture. It is likely it originated from Reddit! *meow*

Image Credit: Desktop HD Wallpapers

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Analysis – Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe

Good News for Crowd Funding and Startup Financing

In November 2012 we published an article titled “Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe“. The post described Kickstarter, the well known crowd funding platform, entering the UK market.

In October 2012 Kickstarter opened it’s doors to projects in the UK. This was a remarkable event as at the time, as crowd funding was just coming into the forefront for entrepreneurs to gain financing (in the shadows of a depressed economy). This was fantastic news Kickstarter is available to projects in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Something Strange

The strange part was that this one post has attracted the highest volume of traffic, almost 5,000 views since it was published. And we don’t know why?!

The bulk of site visitors are from the US, then way back are UK visitors.

On keywords, it does seem that the combination of “kickstarter” and “europe” are popular:

kickstarter europe (434)
kickstarter in europe (53)
kickstarter for europe (5)
european kickstarter (15)
kickstarter from europe (13)
kick starter europe (12)
kickstarter europe alternative (12)

One thought may be that very few articles write about Kickstarter in Europe. Rather they write about “Kickstarter in the UK”. Hence our post has scored a high Google page rank and we can maintain this traffic (for now).

SEO

We guess we will leave this for the SEO experts to analyse. For now, thanks for visiting our site!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Startup Weekend: What to Expect?

The Startup Weekend Series: This entry is part of a series of blog posts about attending a startup weekend event. These posts will help those people who have never attended a weekend hackathon or those wishing to maximise their experiences.

First Day

Don’t forget a firm handshake and eye contact…

Image Credit: Career Girl Network

Prior Perpetration Prevent Poor Performance

A while ago we asked you what to expect from a startup weekend. We shared the below useful articles on startups weekends, pitching advice, and podcast on what to expect.

1. Startup Weekend FAQ – A set of helpful question and answers.
2. Pitching advice for Startup Weekend – Simple and effective tips for preparing your pitch.
3. Podcast with the CEO of Startup Weekend – An insight of the Startup Weekend events and organisation.

54 Hours Case Study

However if you need a little more information, Howard Kingston describes his 54 hours during a Startup Weeked held in London. In his Huffington Post article he shares his experiences when “300 ambitious entrepreneurs get into a room and have 54 hours to launch a business”.

It is a great case study on the weekend, and you can easily gain an appreciation for the 54 hours. Also, check out Youtube for video footage of past weekends.

Top Tips

What are the key learnings? Be prepared, be selective, be different, be available and add value.

1) Be Prepared

Understand the schedule.
Determine what you can offer your team.
Do some homework.
Be prepared to network, deliver a pitch, contribute to a team and stay up late!

2) Be Selective

From day one, try and focus on a single idea or product.
Join a team made up individuals you believe you can learn.

3) Be Different

Stand out with your idea or offering.
Normally the exciting ideas get the most attraction during the weekend.
Boring or safe options usually don’t attract the excitement.

4) Be Available

Be flexible, be available, be able to contribute.
Make sure you can help your team on the weekend.
Avoid disappearing to other events.
Commit to the full 54 hours.

5) Be Valuable

Even if you’re not a programmer, read up on methodologies and validation processes.
Check out some marketing tutorials.
Create the twitter account and facebook pages. Build the vibe around the venue with posters and handouts.

Inspiration

Good luck with your weekend. If you need some inspiration, just check out links below. Both offer some great inspiration. Remember you don’t need to create a new idea. Sometimes the best ideas are already out there – they just need someone to execute them.

+ Ideas Watch – A website for entreprenuers looking to share and develop ideas. Thousands of ideas available for discussion.
+ Flippa – Websites and applications ready for sale. Gain an insight into the website marketplace.

Got something to share? Drop us a line using the social media links below!

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

blogging_blog_trend_dead

tl;dr Some are questioning if blogging is alive or dead. Blogging is certainly not dead, it continues to rapidly evolve.

Is Blogging Dead?

Blogging is not dead.

Although the conventional notions of traditional old school blogging are most likely outdated.

Blogging or writing online has changed rapidly in the past few decades. Anyone can create and publish an extensive body of writing, video and photos. Blogging has become a mainstream hobby. Microblogging is intensively easy and popular.

The ease of publishing has flooded the market and pushed traditional print authors into online forums. This has essentially made gaining and audience via blogging extremely competitive. It is hard to stand out from the crowd and maintain a following.

The advent of online advertising has also spurred terrabytes of lifeless content to drive quantity (traffic), rather than quality. How can a sole blogger compete with an army of content aggregators and Search Engine Optimisers?

The days of hard coding your blog posts in HTML and having intellectual dialogue with like minded individuals is dwindling. Mass media professional bloggers are taking over with paid subscription and mass advertising models. Reputation, backing and infrastructure are keys to being noticed in this crowded space.

Blogging is not dead, it just continues to evolve.

Got an opinion on the topic? Then please leave us a comment!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Twitter Introduces Vine – Post 6 Second Videos Online

twitter_vine_6_six_second_video_tweet

In 6 seconds…

Twitter introduces 6-second video tweets. Will audiences tune in or out? What scandals will it create? And will it generate revenue? Read more below…

Tweets

In 2006 Twitter introduced the world to an online social networking service that enabled its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters. They introduced a web based platform for broadcasting short messages. It came at a time when mobile phones were becoming smart and people were already hooked on text messaging and instant chat. Now Twitter have 500 million registered users, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.

Veets?

This month they introduced Vine, available via iTunes in app format. Vine allows users to tweet 6-second video.

According to iTunes:
“Vine is the best way to see and share life in motion. Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.”

Will users be attracted to such short video? Will users be able to cope with streams of video tweets? Will this be information overload?

Danger

To the creative this may be another avenue to showcase their talents. However as we have seen with Twitter, being able to broadcast a message or photo to millions in an instance is a recipe for disaster.

Revenue

Since inception pundits have been trying to determine how Twitter can monetise it’s data. Will video shorts open the gateway for paid video advertising?

It feels as if Twitter is looking to extends it’s capability from plain text and photos into video. Facebook and YouTube have shown the benefit in these mediums. Smartphones already offer the technology. However will users buy into such short film? Only time will tell.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Four Marketing Ps Product Place Promotion Price

tl;dr Reddit built a platform that met the needs of visitors it attracted. By having a functional website that appeals to a wide community, appearance was not as important as maintaining it’s client base. When building a product remember – product, price, place and promotion.

Why Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty?

Recently someone asked Why is reddit so famous despite such a boring interface?

Google, Craigslist, Facebook, Wikipedia, Amazon, Quora and Reddit. All these popular companies began their lives with basic, simple, boring and sometimes plain ugly websites. Many still retain the boring interfaces but maintain a user base of millions of users.

These sites provide functionality that fulfils the desires of it’s users, with or without beautiful front end experiences. When designing your new product or minimum viable product, consider the core functionality instead of getting stuck of the appearance. Your fancy looking product is useless if it cannot actually do anything.

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When planning your product, consider the following:

+ Good functionality typically wins over beautiful design.

Google started as a great search engine with a simplistic user interface. It didn’t need to be beautiful to bring back accurate search results.
Craigslist looks ugly but delivers a service to it’s customers. After all how beautiful does a classified adverts site have to look?

+ Ugly can triumph beauty.

Web marketers have seen ugly banner adverts attaining higher conversion rates than more colourful and attractive adverts. Humans are sometimes drawn to ugly and boring. Sometimes ugly websites can go viral.

+ Marketing comes down to four p’s. You need to think about all four.

Often ugly sites have an intelligence and powerful marketing campaign and/or are incredible flexible. PlentyOfFish spent money on advertising to attract visitors and constantly improved functionality to meet customer needs.

Note: If you particular niche or competitive advantage is design, then obviously beauty plays a part. For the rest of us, look at providing your prospective customers with something functional.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy?

Startup Business Idea Execution

Great Expecations

You are always thinking up great ideas. Good, bad the ugly. Your bedside notebook is full of brilliant ideas to turn you into the next business billionare. One problem, you never execute any of these ideas.

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The Idea Guy

A recent question to Quora asked: How do I go from being an idea/vision guy to an idea and execution guy?

It strikes at the very problem many entreprenuers face. How do we get started? How do we take these ideas and make them real? Execution (good or bad) seperates the men from the boys…

Start Executing

Want to go from day dreamer to execution guru. Here are some steps. Be warned you may actually execute something!

1) Open your idea notebook – If you have one, open it to page 1. If you don’t have one, you ask yourself ig you really are the “ideas” guy.

Inc.com writes: “Get them out of your head and onto paper. Having all of this brilliance trapped in your brain is exhausting – it wants out!”

2) Choose an idea – Pick the easiet and smallest idea you have. Pick one.

3) Execute – That’s right. Give yourself one month to execute that idea.

Add a reminder in your calendar, stick a post-it on your front door. For the next 30/31 days you need to deliver.

4) Complete – If you executed the idea, congrate yourself and pick the next idea to execute. If you failed, keep going until the idea is executed.

5) Practice – Practice makes perfect. Keep refining your execution skills and proving to yourself and others you have atarck record of delivering.

Did these steps help? Did you execute? Let us know.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts?

How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts

Blog Promotion

A recent Quora question asked How do you promote old blog posts?

Often a new post gains a high spike in interest when first posted. This is commonly due to promotion on social media and general timeliness of the content. After time, this attention drops off. Good posts should not be forgotten and can still be used to drive traffic.

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Old But Not Forgotten

The following 10 tips may help you attract attention to your older blog posts.

1) Remember the footer: Add a footer on all new posts to older (relevant) posts. The “You might also enjoy reading this” WordPress widget can do this automatically.

2) Add links: Add a menu bar or column that includes links to older/archived articles. This includes using sitemaps, archives and tag clouds.

3) Use categories: Ensure posts have tags and categories.

4) References: Reference older posts in new posts. For example: Back in 2010 I wrote about XYZ…

5) Create a series: Many older posts can easily gel together with newer ones.

6) Updates: Add updates to older posts. A simple “Updated (Date)” with a couple of words at the top of an older post may bring attract visitors.

7) Advertise: Share older post links on other social media site you use. In forums and community sites members may ask for advice that your older blog posts can answer.

8) Avoid Repetition: Avoid reposting older posts verbatim. This may damage your search engine rankings.

9) Analytics: Study your analytics. Discover how your visitors land on your blog and exploit these “doorways”. Remember that not all visitors will first land on your index/front page.

10) Other mediums: Utilise other communication methods to promote older posts. If you have a regular email newsletter, consider adding links to older posts in these messages.

Did these work for you? Have you got some suggestions? Leave us a comment!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth

tl;dr Twenty new Twitter followers in a week but a fall in our net position. Should social media sites allow users to end connections by stealth? Is Twitter the new watering hole for scammers and opportunists?

Introduction

Before we begin, we need to make it clear we like Twitter. It has created a simple tool to connect millions of people. It has built a diverse network that has changed the way many of us communicate and opened up new possibilities for others. Various recent uprisings around the world have demonstrated the strength of mass electronic communication.

However one of our biggest gripes with Twitter is the following functionality, or more so the unfollowing functionality. We frequently receive follow email notifications telling us we have gained new followers. This is great however in the past few months we have lost our trust in these notifications.

This week we received approximately 20 new follower notifications. Awesome, new followers to interact with. In reality our net position fell. Many of these followers are no longer following us. Twitter is not alone here.

Why? What is going on here? Is being unable to break a social media connection by stealth a good thing?

Reasons for Breaking Up (Intentional or Unintentional)

Not all break ups may be intentional. However it feels like too many are trying to lure us in for a unbalanced relationship.

+ Spammers: Social media sites have been plagued by spam and dummy accounts looking to leverage large networks of followers. Twitter appears to be more aggressively pursuing such accounts and deactivating accounts as they appear. Therefore many new followers are likely very soon to become dormant.

+ Tools: With the increase of social media options, various tools have been made available to manage your accounts. Algorithms help you follow and unfollow other users, tailoring your network to your interests. The problem is that a button click may radically modify your network. In one click you start following 100 people, then in the next click you have mistakenly unfollowed the same 100 users.

+ Ratio: The desire may be for users looking to achieve the perfect ratio of “followers to followings”. They use a false connection request to lure in new followers, while unscrupulously maintaining a low following figure. This may have financial value for those looking to sell such accounts.

+ Mistake: Twitter makes it remarkably easy to follow/unfollow users (in error). It is not always clear that a single click on the “follow” button results in a follow.

+ Bugs: Users have reported problems with Twitter removing followers with their authorisation. Legitimate connections are being mysteriously broken.

+ Dislike: Obviously there will be cases where a user genuinely ends the relationship by intentionally unfollowing a user.

The combination of the above may be enough to explain the current high churn of new followers. Spammers have always remained in front of the curve. E-mail has got smarter and applications like Twitter are the next watering hole for ‘fake viagra peddlers’ and ‘Nigerian money scammers’.

Unfollowing in Stealth

The majority of social media sites alert you to when someone wants to make a new connection. However very few (if any) send you a notification of when that connection ends. This seems in contrast to the “making of a new connection” where there is complete transparency.

The current process:

1. Mike logs into account
2. Mike identifies Peter to connect with
3. Mike send a new connection request
3a. Sometimes Peter may need to authorise connection request
3b. Peter authorises connection
4. Mike notified of new connection
5. Mike breaks connection
6. No notification sent to Peter
7. Peter doesn’t know connection broken

Benefits of Stealth

It seems odd that the making of a connection are so open, however the closing of a connection are almost secret. What is the benefit to the network?

The clearest benefit seems to avoid social awkwardness for users. Generalising, the majority of humans wish to avoid conflict and by allowing discreet disconnection all parties can continue participating without the awkwardness. At least, until disconnected party realises they have been dumped.

From one angle it seems unreasonable to expect parties to authorise the break of the relationship. This may inadvertently increase the psychological barrier for creating new connections and reducing the effectiveness of the network. In contrast, many people are quick to rush into things even when implications are high (e.g. financial contracts with penalties for exiting). Attaching penalties on exit may not discourage users forming new connections.

Would building a social network based on full transparency mean a better community? Would penalising breaking connections be effective?

No Conclusions

There are various third party applications online to track your followers and unfollowers. It remains unknown if Twitter and others will enable this functionality within their own environments. For now we just need to accept that it is a better user experience to know about new connections…

Image Credit: Pluggio

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About

Startups for the Rest of Us

Mike Taber and Rob Walling record an awesome regular podcast called “Startups for the Rest of Us“. It’s aimed at helping developers, designers and entrepreneurs launch their startup product. They have just hit their 100th episode and you can check out older recordings or episode transcripts on their website.

In episode 98 they share “eight sentiments that do not bode well for your startup”.

The Eight Sentiments

1. “This product idea is awesome. Now off to the basement to build it; see you in 6 months!”

2. “I haven’t even finished the features I want to build yet and potential customers are already asking me to build X.” Translation: “I’m sticking to my product idea no matter what my potential customers tell me.”

3. “I’m halfway done with this idea… but that shiny new one over there seems so much better.”

4. “I plan to quite my job 60 days after I launch.”

5. “It would take me as much time to explain this task to someone else, so I’ll just do it myself.”

6. “I don’t want to bother with all that click through and conversion rate nonsense…I’ll just build a great product.” Translation: “Build a better mousetrap is not a good strategy”

7. “My idea is pretty hard to explain, do you have 20 minutes to spare?”

8. “I don’t want to talk publicly about my idea because someone might steal it.”

Summary

These are excellent points. The message is do not keep your idea a secret. Speak to people, especially customers and listen and apply their feedback. You need to be able to articulate your idea clearly and be open to suggestions. Do not build and ship in isolation!

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss

Be Your Own Boss

The new entrepreneur TV series “Be Your Own Boss” started a couple of weeks ago on the BBC. This is an extension to the BBC’s portfolio of pop-business productions that includes Dragons Den and The Apprentice.

These shows are definitely pitched at the mainstream and simplify aspects of starting a business. The X-Factor style delivery can easily be criticised. Nevertheless Be Your Own Boss proves to offer some real nuggets to aspiring entrepreneurs. It preaches the freedom and satisfaction that can come from building your own business. Noble aspirations in times the current climate of high unemployment and declining opportunities for young people.

Innocent Drinks

The show follows Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed and his search for bright minds with great ideas to invest in. Richard’s own story is inspiring.

From Wikipedia:

+ Innocent was founded by three graduates – Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright.
+ In 1998, after spending six months working on smoothie recipes and £500 on fruit, the trio sold their drinks from a stall at a music festival in London.
+ People were asked to put their empty bottles in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ bin depending on whether they thought the three should quit their jobs to make smoothies. At the end of the festival the ‘YES’ bin was full, with only three cups in the ‘NO’ bin, so they went to their work the next day and resigned.
+ Had a lucky break when Maurice Pinto, a wealthy American businessman decided to invest £250,000.
+ In total, it took fifteen months from the initial idea to taking the product to market.
+ In 2009 the company sold a small stake of between 10 and 20% to The Coca-Cola Company, with the three founders retaining all operational control for £30 million.
+ In 2010 Coca-Cola increased its stake in the company to 58% from 18% for about £65 million.
+ The three founders continue to retain full operational control.

Lessons from the Boss

Richard is brutally honest to hopeful candidates and rightly so. How can people seriously ask to use someone’s money to “conduct market research” or “advertise”?

In a way he is the typical angel investor seeking to reapply their recipe of success to others. Richard is constantly talking about the virtues of aiming big and getting into supermarkets; and knocking on doors of retailers to know if the product has any demand.

He also dismisses some ideas he is not passionate about. Rightly so given it will be his time and money he is investing. However occasionally he seems a little too quick to dismiss a pitch. Maybe some of the detail is lost in the editing.

The key points that stand out:

+ Validate your idea and product immediately. Determine if a market and demand exist.
+ Speak to people and potential customers.
+ Forget social media. You need to knock on doors and speak to people.
+ Get orders. The ultimate sign of a good idea is selling (even it is pre-selling before the product is available).
+ Be serious and take advise. Don’t expect investment if you’re closed or not at the right stage for investment.
+ Know your strategy.

There are many more, but the message of getting outside the building and conducting customer development is clear.

Stay Tuned

The series is entertaining and even features the occasional cameo from business legend Richard Branson. So far Richard Reed (not Branson) has invested in a couple of clever ideas. Let’s see if they reap him as much reward as Innocent.

Some of the Ventures so far (more here):

Week 1: Mango Bikes
Week 2: Twists Pasta Bar
Week 3: MixPixie

Image Credit: BBC

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords

google adwords online advertising chart results seo

tl;dr By using a Google AdWords credit voucher we learned an obvious lesson – buying traffic is expensive and Internet marketing (web marketing) is a science. Paid adverts can help compliment an existing organic/SEO strategy.

The Experiment

In March 2012 Google kindly provided us with a credit voucher to test out Google Adwords. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out online advertising and potentially pull in some traffic to our blog (all for free!).

We spent £24.53 in 89 days to get 290 clicks (0.17%) and 166,800 impressions. However recent tweaking has yielded us 166 clicks (CTR 0.42%) in 13 days off £2.79 of spend.

If you are interested in traffic, you may want to read our 10,000 page view article.

The Evolution of Online Advertising

The web has radically evolved in the past decade. Web advertising has moved from irrelevant blinking banner adverts to well targeted text and multimedia adverts. Spam and advert blockers have made it harder for unsolicited or unscrupulous messages to reach us. Nevertheless the end user experience is still flooded by advertisers screaming for our attention. Getting the right message, to the right people is even tougher.

Google AdWords have developed a sophisticated advertising suite to tailor your adverts to the right keywords searches, websites and demographics. The available analytics is useful in identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Lessons Learned

Using a minimal daily budget (<$£0.50) we created and road tested 6 adverts. In summary we learned:

+ The number and type of keywords counts – Our early adverts were associated to less than 20 keywords. Once we increased the list to 100+ we noticed an instant increase in clicks and impressions.

+ The right type of traffic is important – Add keywords but ensure they are relevant to your site otherwise you risk bringing in the wrong visitors.

+ Our keywords – There is no clear winner when it comes the keywords we used. The following keywords sit at the top with a long tail for the remainder of keywords. (Group A = 5 clicks) home business, home business opportunities, business opportunities; (Group B = 20 clicks) start your own business, start a business, build a business (Group C = 67 clicks) startup, startups.

+ Paid advertising is expensive – Google AdWords is expensive and better alternative may exist. You may consider advertising in a industry/niche newsletter or online magazine rather than spending money on Google.

+ Paid traffic can help support your organic page rankings – Page ranking on Google can be ‘make or break’. Therefore paid traffic may help secure or boost your page ranking on Google.

+ Paid traffic can help with your sales funnel (if you have one) – If you are selling something, paying x for a visitor may well be worth the spend. You just need to make sure you can convert many of the visitors and you have some mechanisms to track conversions.

The Adverts and Results

Between March and September we set up a campaign with 6 adverts:

Ad Group #1:
Lean Startup Tips
Winning new business ideas!
Launch with success.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 89
Clicks: 38
Impressions: 81,902
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.05%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.18
Cost: £7.02
Average Position: 3.8

Ad Group #2:
Entrepreneur Startup Blog
Lessons in business startup.
Turn a business idea into reality.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 89
Clicks: 7
Impressions: 22,666
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.03%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.19
Cost: £1.35
Average Position: 3.8

Ad Group #3:
Business / Tech Startups
News and stories on startups.
Ideas for business startups.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 89
Clicks: 1
Impressions: 481
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.21%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.22
Cost: £0.22
Average Position: 5.7

Ad Group #4:
Want Startup Success?
Interested in lean startup, models?
We share our experiences.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 77
Clicks: 77
Impressions: 21,637
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.36%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.17
Cost: £12.80
Average Position: 5.5

**** Ad Group #5: ****
Want Business Success?
Winning new business ideas!
Launch with success.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 13
Clicks: 166
Impressions: 39,946
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.42%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.02
Cost: £2.79
Average Position: 2.4

Ad Group #6:
Startup Success Stories?
Learn from the best startups.
Tools podcasts videos ebooks.
sparknlaunch.wordpress.com

Days active: 89
Clicks: 1
Impressions: 179
Click Through Rate (CTR): 0.56%
Average Cost Per Click (CPC): £0.35
Cost: £0.35
Average Position: 6.5

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views

tl;dr We looked back on our last 10,000 page views. We found: 1) Traffic spikes help, 2) Being unloved hurts, 3) Google search Rocks, 4) Social media sux, 5) Google images draws in questionable traffic, 6) Low click rates hurt, 7) Spam is out of control, 8) More bots than humans visit the site.

Introduction

There is the old adage of the past best is the best predictor of future. Some say we just have to look back in the past to forecast our likely future. With this in mind we decided to look back on our last 10,000 blog views (page views). Hopefully the future is going to be brighter than the past…

We took figures from our standard WordPress Dashboard. The numbers represent the count of “views” and are not unique. In most cases we have only provided a cut of the top figures rather than the full list (due to the very long tail of results).

Lessons Learned

The results are hardly impressive or surprising.

1. Traffic Spikes Help

The odd news spike from news aggregator sites managed to haul in a large amount of short term activity. Activity quickly diminished but spikes did keep post links alive in social media sites (eg Twitter, Facebook) and news readers (eg Google Reader).

2. Being Unloved Hurts

Articles that never had the fortune of gaining large attention remain unloved.

3. Google Search Rocks

While many preach the power of social media, the bulk of referral traffic has come from Google. Yahoo and Bing are well behind.

4. Social Media Sux

Our experience with social media is extremely poor. Hardly any activity turns into visits. A Facebook Like, a Twitter Tweet and Google +1 are meaningless in converting into visits.

5. The Power of (Google) Images

Oddly Google Images yield the bulk of Google traffic (636 of 921 Google Search Engine views). It is questionable the value of this traffic.

6. Low Click Rate

It is rare that a visitor clicks on any/many links. We are not worried about external links however concerned about the low internal click rate. We added a standard footer to all our posts a few months ago that has made some improvement.

7. Spam Is Out of Control

Traffic is on the decline but spam is out of control (increasing from 7 to 777 per month).

8. Too Many Spam Bots

The large amount of spam may well be automated (ie sent by a bot) rather than by a human.

Summary

It feels as web traffic is much like catching waves in the ocean. Catch a good wave and you can ride it into shore. Catch no wave and you’re left floundering with the (spam) sharks.

The numbers are posted below. Get in touch if you have anything to add.

Happy swimming!

The Numbers

Top 10 Posts

The following summarises the top 10 posts by number of post views.

Views / Post
3402 Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
1404 Home page / Archives
1314 How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News?
285 Glossary
240 Learning From Other Startups
234 KISS – Ugly Websites That Went Viral
212 The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
205 The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds MVP?
204 The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
190 How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken?

Comments:
- One Hacker News submission sent 2,958 visitors to our blog in one single day (Described here).

Top 10 Referrers

The following summarises the top 10 referrers by number of post views.

Views / Referrer
2988 Hacker News
921 Search Engines
462 hackful.com
358 Twitter
342 Google Reader
179 StumbleUpon
126 quora.com
101 Facebook
93 bbc.co.uk
63 WordPress Dashboard

(Note: Added 146 to hacker news for HN aggregators)

Comments:
- Community sites have helped draw majority of traffic.
- Popular posts often get captured by Google Reader and Twitter, growing interest for a short term period then quickly dying off.

Top 5 Search Engines

The following summarises the top 5 referrer search engines by number of post views.

Views / Search Engine
921 Google Search
636 Google Image Search
11 Ask.com
7 Bing
4 Yahoo Search

Comments:
- Large amount of traffic from image search. Bulk with Google.
- Using Adwords and Facebook however minimal spend.
- WordPress Dashboard may be self clicks.

Top 10 Countries

The following summarises the top 10 visitor countries by number of post views.

Views / Country
4308 United States
1572 United Kingdom
464 Canada
377 India
299 Germany
254 Australia
163 France
151 Brazil
131 Netherlands
118 Sweden

Comments:
- In total there have been visitors from over 106 countries.

Top Search Terms

The following summarises the top search terms by number of post views.

- startup glossary, startup dictionary, buzzwords, biz buzzwords
- minimum viable product, mvp, pivot
- business guru, business gurus, biz advice, startup advice, how to launch
- new startups, top uk startups, top 100 startups, best startups
- hackers, hacker news
- startup podcasts, startup tools
- startup funding, business finance, crowdfunding

Comments:
- Hundreds of variations however mainly focused on “startups” and “business”.

Top 10 Clicks

The following summarises the top 10 visitor clicks by number of post views.

Clicks / URL
167 quora.com
87 Hacker News
85 kickstarter.com
82 startups.co.uk
70 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com
39 techzinglive.com
26 bbc.co.uk
25 Twitter
23 Reddit

Internal:
67 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com/ (Images)
3 sparknlaunch.files.wordpress.com/ (Files)

Comments:
- Very low internal click rate.
- Bulk of clicks appear to be on images. May suggest users behaviour or other sites recycling images.
- Poor reflection on the ability of site to retain visitors.

Top Comments

The following summarises the number of comments.

Comments / Category
1590 spam
396 ham
2 missed spam
4 false positives
95 Comments

Comments:
- Spam is the unwanted commercial comments.
- Ham are legitimate comments.
- The high amount of spam comments hints that bulk of visitors to the blog are just spammers or spammer bots.

Comments Per Month

The following summarises the number of spam comments by month.

Comments / Month
7 Feb
36 Mar
101 Apr
172 May
160 Jun
541 Jul
777 Aug

Comments:
- Strangely traffic has gone down but spam comments have gone up.
- February caught 7 comments versus 777 in August!

Image Credit: VistaPrint

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As

In early August we published a post titled “Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs“. It announced our new repository of online startup tools for entrepreneurs.

Today we have added 10 top question/answer websites. We are big fans of online expert sites. These platforms allow you to gain access to industry experts.

Want to ask Eric Ries a question on Lean Startup? Check out Sprouter. Want to ask Drew Houston about how he started to Dropbox? Check our Quora.

Here are the 10 new entires into the startup tools repository:

1. Quora – Using the search functionality you can easily find experts and answers relevant to your industry.

2. Askolo – A small scale question and answer website, however has a diverse membership base of startup entrepreneurs. Offers an opportunity to get in touch with like minded people.

3. Stack Exchange- It originated from helping programmers solve coding problems. It is now an ever growing pure question and answer site.

4. OnStartups – Part of the StackExchange network. This section deals specifically with entrepreneur and startup based questions.

5. Sporuter – A rich community of startup experts. Includes answers from Eric Ries, Brad Feld, Tony Conrad, Dan Martell, Mark Suster, Hiten Shah, Micah Baldwin, Aaron Patzer, Daniel Burka, Joe Stump, Ash Maurya.

6. LinkedIn – Best known for being a social network for professional connections, LinkedIn offers several forums for connecting with experts in your field.

7. Reddit – The social news website has slowly been adding subsections (“subreddits”). This has helped in finding useful users and threads to follow.

8. Hacker News – Affiliated with the YCombinator accelerator foudned by Paul Graham. The site is primarily a news aggregation site for startup and technology related articles. However submissions prefixed with “Ask HN” or “Show HN” can quickly gain useful feedback and interest.

9. Twitter – Search and find experts to follow and ask questions. Your submissions are limited to 140 characters but can start informative interactions.

10. Google – It is very likely your question has already been asked (and answered). Searching for “How do I…” may yield some quick answers.

Want more top tools? Visit our Helpful Startup Tools For Entrepreneurs section.

Have a site to add? Drop us a line in the comments section or over .

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
+ Helpful Startup Tools For Entrepreneurs

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

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