Social Media Nuggets – Likes vs Shares

On Facebook, you have Likes and Shares. On Twitter, the equivalents are Favorites (Favs) and Retweets.

Likes and Favs are good.  They are very simple attention indicators. They make you feel that people are paying enough attention and are kind enough to take a few seconds to “Like” what you posted or tweeted. It is some kind of validation that your content may be consumed.

Shares and Retweets are better than Likes/Favs. You get a lot less of them, though. When some on shares/retweets, they are signalling you, that “this content is good for my readers/followers”.

Shares with comments are even better. Replies or retweets with edits are great too. They all show that you are engaging your readers.

The best Tweets/Posts are the ones that generate discussions. Even if the comments are negative, you learn something new. You get to know your community better through these discussions. You come to know what they like and what they don’t. You learn different view points

I spend a couple of hours in social media and moderate 5-7 groups on Facebook. It is an investment in time in understanding your communities. I enjoy being there and the interactions.

Tall Claims

Once in a while I get an email that starts out with:

We are a world leading….

When I read that, I cringe a bit and promptly delete the email. I don’t understand why there is a compulsion to claim to be “world leading” .

What is wrong with:

  • We are a product company growing fast (if that is really true)
  • Our products are liked by our customers (can be proven)
  • We provide good service (can be proven)
  • We are always trying to please our customers
  • We try hard to keep improving ( a modest claim but can be believed)

I am still trying to understand some of these marketing communications. I think more than anything else, what you say must be believable. Trust me. If you are world leading in anything, people are likely to know you without your saying so.


I am guilty of this tendency too, to some extent. We claim that “x is the coolest way to…”. That was my immaturity in clear evidence.

LinkLog: Going Long on Twitter

Twitter is the place which the largest number of the smartest most capable people in the world have chosen to discuss stuff in public. There might be larger numbers of people on Facebook or LinkedIn, but the nature of the Twitter follow and discovery model makes it the place where you can tune into condensed matter physicists, human rights lawyers, celebrity photographers, product managers of your favourite MMORPG, or anyone who matches your definition of important.

Because people relevant to what you care about hang out on Twitter – and are addressable conversationally, this is the place you can reach them. CEOs literally do look at their @ messages, and those who don’t today will do soon.

A nice post on Going Long on Twitter (surprisingly discovered on LinkedIn) by Azeem Azhar founder at PeerIndex.

Trying to Create a Better Product? That Strategy is too Vague.

From Law of Perception – Marketing for Geeks

Ries and Trout say, “Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.” Sometimes the best product does not win.


Quite frequently, perception is merely an exaggeration of reality.

I like this advice:

Don’t try to create a “better” product. That strategy is too vague. Instead, try to create a product which is better for a specific group of  people with specific problems that are not being solved very well by others. That specific group of people will perceive your product as the best (emphasis is mine).

I like it because, it lets me enter a marketplace where there are other products but they don’t satisfy the needs of certain classes of users.

Let me take a specific example. We have a product – TopicMinder,  which can provide you topic based alerts. At a broad level, it can be perceived similar to Google Alerts. However, when you dig deeper, for specific research needs, it is better than Google Alerts. Google Alerts are broad. We are deep. So even though Google Alerts are perceived to be better (and free).  We are starting to get users who came to us, because they do not get what they want from Google alerts.

To Whom Does the Difference Matter? And Why?

The point of creating a category is to make sure you and your customers understand  what your key differentiation is. What makes you different? To whom does that difference matter? In the minds of those people, you are number one.¹

But do make sure there are enough of those people. Every difference defines a category, but not every category matters.

setup a category in which you can be first. But size does matter. Make sure the category you choose is not too large and not too small.

To whom does the difference matter? And why?

I think this is one of the keys to understanding your customers better. If you have several competitors (like we do) but some customers stick with us for long periods of time, we  keep asking ourselves these questions:

  1. Why are they staying with us and have not drifted off to other similar (and even free) services?
  2. What is it that we do or don’t do, that appeals to them?
  3. How can we  use this knowledge to find more such customers?
  4. How can we make ourselves discoverable to these customers?
  5. How can we continuously deliver more value to various customer segments?

To us the last question is one of the most difficult.  Our customers come from different companies and different jobs.  Increasing the core value for each category of customer  is a constant quest.

I would love to know how you think about or solve this problem with your product/service.

¹The Law of Categories – from Immutable Laws of Marketing

Startup Topics: Growth Hacker Marketing, SAAS Metrics

A series of events led to this post.

First, I finished reading the book on Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday . I decided to try a few growth hacks for our products.  The first few were to dig a bit deeper and collect more information understand concepts better and start on some small projects  related to an initial analysis of my company’s customers.

While the book is a great intro to Growth Hacking, Ryan stresses that it is not a set of tools but a ‘mindset’. My second step was to watch this video from Paul Willard on Growth Hacking . Paul talks about lots of experiments he tried, and shares many observations. He talked a lot about Lifetime Value of customers (LTV), the importance of modeling it for future value.  I had a rough idea about LTV, but wanted to learn more. You can find the slides Paul used here.

I stumbled upon Jason Cohen‘s article –  Why I don’t like LTV metric . Here I was, all convinced about Paul’s ideas about LTV, and the very next day I am reading an article that says it is a wrong metric. Jason says that if you make your marketing spend decisions based on a wrong model of LTV, you will be wasting money but explains in another article a revised calculation of LTV.

I think I have enough stuff to get started with a few experiments on my own.

Be Nice. Always, Always, Always be Nice

Be nice. Always, always, always be nice.

It is a strange advice to see in a book that teaches you to sell, but not as strange as it appears.  Most of the best sales people I know are extremely nice people.

It’s not your words that sell. It’s your preparation, your questions, your comprehension of the prospect’s problems, and your actions to solve them. Yes, you need to talk about the product and talk about their business, but you have to do it in a comfortable way.
Most of our sales successes have been due to the comprehension of the prospect’s problems and some knowledge of how others solved them. Somewhere in that process, our product might have been involved. One of the advantages you have, as a sales person listening to lots of questions and problems from potential customers is that you become a kind of Information Hub. That puts you in a consultative role.  That is always a good starting point and a way to build a rapport with customers.
unless they have a problem equivalent to their house on fire and you are the fire department, insurance company, and grief counselor combined, you both know that you won’t be doing business together, because that’s how things work.
When customers have urgent pressing problems and they think that you may have a possible solution, they will give you a lot of their time. They will somehow find you.
I absolutely, positively recommend choosing 2-3 media platforms and becoming active. Personally, I use our company blog, a personal blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The blogs enable me to share perspectives and industry expertise in detail, while Twitter and LinkedIn allow for sharing these posts and for daily interactions with customers.
I think this is a great idea and can relate to it.  Several of my fellow entrepreneurs do that as well.
You need to give them a reason to take your calls, return your calls, or spend five minutes with you when they do answer the  phone.
This will be very difficult initially. But if you provide value in every interaction with the customer, it gets easier.
As you are calling each of your prospects and inbound leads, white papers are effective because they show that you are serious about the industry and that you are participating with thoughtful contributions.
We did not do this well at all. But I have seen how some companies like Hubspot do such a good job.
Know your industry-specific news sites. These industry news sites give you plenty of reasons to call a lead or a prospect to ask them how a particular  happening affects their business.
A bit of shameless plug. If you want to know how to discover news and send them to your customers or use them as conversation starters, we can certainly help.
The process of  migrating a ‘user’ to a ‘customer’ will reveal the answers to several vital questions about your business and its viability.
If you are a startup in the early customer development phase, this is invaluable. Even as you grow, this process can keep you well rooted.
Startup Selling: How to sell if you really, really have to and don’t know how  by Sambucci, Scott is really a book worth reading. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I think I will go back and reread parts of it later. Thanks to Sid for suggesting it.

UnImaginative Marketing

I loved this fragment from Copy Blogger:

Unimaginative marketers attempt to stand out with message frequency, or by exchanging bribes for attention (resulting in an explosion of Facebook contests and giveaways, among other tactics).

You can’t survive by shouting the loudest and relying solely on anachronistic interruption marketing. You can’t proclaim you’re featuring the “biggest sale ever!” every day (I’m looking at you, Macy’s) or simply rewrite a portion of your online brochure and hope that Google funnels customers to your website.

I think we instinctively know this but we still resort to some of the interruption marketing techniques. I like this advice:

Use social media to promote useful information first, and your company second.