Tag Archives: channel selection

Facebook Doesn’t get Monday Blues? (Weekly Social Media Behavior)

5 Aug

social web sites

Its true! EVERYONE rests on the sabbath!

I just completed 7 months of blogging – fairly sporadic stuff, i must admit. In these 7 months, I had formulated some theories about days and day parts that are most amenable to posting. These were:

– Mondays are great for posting on Facebook (Contrary to what you would expect, most folks do NOT get to office all waiting to sweat it out! I get loaaads of posts on my timeline, and actually a fair number of hits on my blogs on Mondays)

– Facebook gives me greatest hits – after all, these are friends, and they are fairly varied occupationally (from my mom, to my daughter – see this old post on Facebook’s ubiquitous appeal; to ex colleagues, to batchmates from school and college..)

– Fridays are bad – both these are actually a bit counter intuitive, aren’t they? If you look at lunch places, they are more crowded on Fridays than other places – most “nice to do” stuff is typically kept for fridays – so, one would think that Facebook browsing should be on the rise on Fridays? Not true

– Weekends are worst! On saturdays and sundays, I guess folks don’t use laptops; and, despite mobile increasing as access mode, I get least hits on those days 🙂

– For all social media platforms, the beginning of the day is better than the end – this is true of all, except twitter – where BOTH the beginning and the end is better.

I thought I would undertake some analysis and see if my hypotheses were true. Just so you know, I typically publish my blog at night, and then post it on twitter. In the morning, I repost it to twitter and then also post it on Facebook and Linkedin (Ofcourse, after judging appropriateness! There are posts that don’t make it to LinkedIn and Twitter; just as some that don’t make it to Facebook. See another old post with my opinions on segmenting content according to the character of the social media channel)

So, here’s what the trend of visits looked like:

Blog Visit Analysis

This validated my hypotheses about weekends being days of rest, but threw out a few surprising winners!
Interestingly, on a cumulative basis, all weekdays had more or less the same no. of visits per day (average).

However, if you break it up into days when there were posts published and those when there weren’t, Mondays and Thursdays were best for posting blogs. (I did a further drill down where I removed the outlier posts – those that were wildly successful, and found that Mondays were certainly the stars by far)

But, for “regular” behavior, ie, that not triggered by posts – which further translates to organic / search type visits – Mondays were actually the worst (and Wednesdays the best!). My theory for this is as follows:

After a lazy weekend, folks get back to work but also to their social networks – this points more and more to social networks, even the “non professional” ones like facebook, being almost an adjunct to your productive work day! This explains the high visits on Mondays when new triggers (new posts) are seen. But, during the middle of the week, folks start actual “work” – I am talking presentations/ inspiration/ research 🙂 – and hence organic visits peak then! Makes sense?

Look at the sources analysis:

Blog Source Analysis

Again, much to my surprise, “search” almost equals “Facebook” – this is partially testimony to the (slow) speed of blogging, but does atleast endorse the cleverness of my tags 🙂

A look at a few other similar subject analyses can be had here and here

So, if you want to start blogging, you know what time of the day/ day of the week and which channel to do it on! Happy blogging!

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Start Up Dilemma – 6 (Do You Hire Sales People Sooner, or Later)

31 Jul

rainmaker

Last week I met up with an ex colleague who is now running a startup in the research and analytics space, with play largely in the U.S. He happens to be fortunate in that he is part of a larger, fairly well known group who wanted to spin off this entity.

He’s been in existence just under a year, and has surpassed the goals he and his corporate board had set for year 1 – revenue, people, profitability! Those folks are now really bullish on the business, and want to accelerate the pace.

His dilemma was – is this the right time to hire specialist sales people? Not being flush with funds (obviously), probably the best he can afford is like 70 – 80K-ish dollars – that doesn’t get him rainmaker sales people (there are very very few of those anyway!)! But is it money well spent? Atleast the guy is in the same geography and can pound the streets/ walk the hallways and start getting traction!

My advice was a strong, heartfelt NO! Its a little funny actually, because if you read my earlier post in this series on when to offload other support functions, it was earlier rather than later!

So ofcourse at the heart, the solution is right – specially in offshored plays, it is critical to have sales folks in the same geography – just the physical proximity, the cultural nuances, and ofcourse the rolodex is the all powerful tool. Many offshored start ups solve it by hiring sales folks in the offshored/ delivery centre (cheaper 🙂 ) and making folks travel. Wrong move! In fact, in Europe and Asia, it is disadvantageous to not have same region people – you cannot build trust and credibility without native folks!

But, the solution is also not, hiring specialist sales people in the geography.

I did a rough analysis of our history here (and I admit it may not be the correct benchmark – one man does not n army make and all that) – but here is where it netted out (over an 8 year period):

Sales Force Efficiency

(Disclaimer : Impact analysis is not very scientific)

The hit ratio of success was not great – and the amount of time spent briefing, searching, shortlisting, recruiting just outlandish! (don’t get me wrong – we wouldn’t have been able to build our company without the ones who did well, but this is just to show hit ratios!)

So what works?

There is nothing that works as well as “doing it yourself”. The vision, the fire in the belly and the sincerity that emerges from the founder’s personna – is unmatchable! Also, your desire to make it work is that much harder, so you will stretch yourself – sometimes unreasonably so (but then, thats part of an entrepreneur’s life, right?). In my own company, we were really lucky that of four co-founders, 2 were based in the off-shored location (and hence took charge of operations and solutions development) and 2 were based in the client geography (and thus were “natives”). It was a win-win situation, and, our best salesmen was actually one of the co-founders!

But, you ask me:
i) “We are selling offshored products/ services – You just said two minutes ago it is imperative to have presence in the geography”
ii) “We are tech people – we can code, we are not market facing – how do we get the smarts to manage that?”

Both really valid questions. My answers :

to ii) first – it is a good idea to rope in a person with market facing skills as PART of your founding team – so, part with some equity – but then his/ her stakes in the venture are very high. That then makes sure that you are, in essence, “doing it yourself”

Another thing that you should do – is arrange channel partnerships. Your channel partnerships, if done right, with complementary folks – sometimes freelancers almost – takes care of the networking/ rolodex/ native face issue. In our case, our biggest revenue grosser accounts came from partners. Ofcourse, taking from the point made earlier – the channel partnerships will only get you entry, the pitch HAS to be made by YOU – After all, as I said in another earlier post, We are ALL Sales People, or need to be! (More so if you are an entrepreneur! ).

And finally, acknowledging that sales is a matter of sheer numbers, you have to invest in an offshored “calling team”. These are young, fire in the belly type sales people (start with one) who can call and arrange meetings to supplement the partners, and block your calendars when you DO travel to the client geographies.

This means, the money that you would struggle to eke out to the (actually-not-so-well-paid-though-for-you-its-a-lot-of-money) sales guy is better spent on travel – your travel!.

The situation does change if you get funding – one of the uses of external investment is always sales investment – and understandably so – your investor WILL want to see escalation in growth and the ONLY way to do that is to (again mathematics) have multiple feet pounding the client doors!

So, you ask the question – when then should i hire specialist sales people? My answer – when you can afford the good ones:)

In this context, I always remember what the founder of a very successful offshored analytics company told us (he was a single founder – had no partners, but did get funding early on – and then successively with larger frequency). He did not, till fairly late in his entrepreneurship journey (and his company was a substantial size by then) hire any specialist sales people. His quote was “Jo founder ka khoon til til jalta hai, woh aur kisi ka nahi jal sakta – tou hum log hi convincingly sale kar saktey hain!” Translated, this means – only the entrepreneur’s blood boils bit by bit for the need to make revenue – no one else can do that job with greater conviction!.

Well said, Sir, and I fully agree!

Website or Blog, Pinterest or Facebook Page or….The Problem of Plenty For Start-Ups

9 Jan

My friend Shoma launched a new recipe/ food related web-site today . My other friend Sumanya on the other hand started with a facebook page for her nameplate making business which she runs out of home. I want to release a portal for moms – not a new idea, but sorely needed (i think) in the avatar i envisage it. The question is – should i create a website/ or will a facebook page suffice. Or maybe, because i do want this to be contributory/ interactive, i shd just make it a blog!

Sounds familiar? I’m sure a lot of small scale enterprises, attracted by the ubiquitousness of social media and the ease of marketing their business using these channels face these problems. 

So what is the answer? While i do have my own point of view here, i started by what a start-up would do – “Just Google It”. And came upon many “definitional” differences between blogs, websites and facebook pages. (no advice mind you :)).

Just so you understand,

A blog IS a kind of a website – (infact, its name comes from weB-LOG). THe only difference is that generally, a website has content that is fairly core to your business and so “static” i.e., it doesnt change/ get refreshed every once so often. In contrast, a blog is MEANT to have new content every day/ week/ hour/ minute — and the whole aspect is designed to show the changes in chronological order. Due to this, a website is typically informative about the company, and very often directed towards purchase (think e-commerce). A blog is more thought leadership-ish. Jeff Korhan has a nifty take on this – he says a Website is a digital storefront while a blog is a digital magazine.

A facebook page obviously, being a later avatar of all things digital, tries to combine the best of both. Having said that, the essential difference is that in a website – you wait for your audience/ customer/ reader to COME to YOU – i.e., you have to attract her to your destination. Once done, however, the audience is in a non competitive scenario – as she is consuming only your content. On the other hand, in a facebook page, your content is GOING to WHERE your customer IS – i.e., her newsfeed! Which means, that your content has to be compelling enough to even attract attention as the reader is scrolling through her newsfeed! This is the reason why facebook is often used as one of the media to draw traffic to websites (when both exist – as they often do). Per Jeff Bullas, facebook is not killing the web-site, in fact they co-exist.

Add to this the fact that all lines between different channels are blurring anyway! Web-sites now have blogs, they also have facebook pages. Blog platforms like wordpress and blogger now give you templates where your blog can be turned into a website. And facebook now has monetization options a la e-commerce. This convergence means, that there is no true form now.

Confusing, isn’t it? i’m sure you’re saying – OK, OK, i get the differences, so which one should I start with?

I have 2 pieces of advice here:

a) Think about WHAT you are trying to do with your business and with the digital marketing of it – Sumanya just wanted to spread awareness amongst a “manageable” circle. She views her business as a one man operation which will satisfy her creative urges, keep her busy as well as get her some recognition and pocket money. She is not into scaling it. It makes sense for her to use her circle of facebook friends who will spread the word to their facebook friends and so on – enabling creative appreciation via “likes” (see my other post on likes) and a steady stream of incoming requests. Shoma on the other hand, having been an entrepreneur, does want to keep herself open to the possibility of scaling her business (to eventually sell off). Hence she used the web-site format. She also, incidentally, has a blog embedded – that satisfies her creative writing urge just as the web-site itself satisfies her creative cooking one. She also “marketed” her web-site through her facebook page…See the possibilities?

b) But most importantly, and honestly, my BIGGEST piece of advice to you is – start with whichever one you know, are comfortable with, and can manage easily yourself! The main objective is to GET UP there on the web, it doesn’t at this stage matter too much – HOW!

As we all know, in the garage mode, we entrepreneurs have so much to do – and the biggest lesson we learn in this, is focus – on the core competence. Its very easy to get distracted by the myriad things we have to do. But after all, it IS necessary to get some kind of marketing done – and a digital presence is the easiest. Given the fact that all forms have all others embedded in them anyways, i would say – till you grow large enough to warrant specialised marketing and/ or can hire these folks who can market for you, just get started! You can refine/ add/ migrate whatever when the need arises.

So, ladies and gents, choose your poison – but just DO it…..err, on my idea? so, maybe i shd do facebook….no, – blog….no, website….ok, all three……