David Spark – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz Social media business strategies blog Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:10:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://socialmedia.biz/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/cropped-favicon-socialmedia-512-32x32.png David Spark – Socialmedia.biz http://socialmedia.biz 32 32 11 steps to creating truly awful content http://socialmedia.biz/2014/06/18/11-steps-to-creating-truly-awful-content/ http://socialmedia.biz/2014/06/18/11-steps-to-creating-truly-awful-content/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:35:37 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27433 Continue reading ]]>

If you can’t be the best, why not be the worst?

Target audience: PR professionals, marketers, content creators, brand journalists, communicators.

David SparkWouldn’t it be great if someone could simply explain to you the secret to creating great content? Maybe they could walk you through it with just a dozen steps. Thousands of people like you will gravitate toward such an article. It could be called “How to Create Great Content” and you can cross your fingers that it doesn’t include the same redundant advice (e.g., “Create something interesting that would be of value to your audience”).

BadEgg300Have you noticed that these “How to Create Great Content” articles are written by the dozens if not hundreds. They’re all useless. In fact, I wrote an article on just that sad reality (READ: “Why I’m Annoyed By All ‘How to Create Great Content’ Advice”).

The only way to create great content is to do it over and over again until you get good at it. And then once you’re good at it, keep doing it until you’re better at it.

Since there was no way I could teach others how to create great content, especially in a 90-second video, I thought I’d ask some content producing experts about how they created their worst pieces of content. The above video was shot at the 2014 PR SUMMIT Conference in San Francisco. Watch, and let us know in the comments below about the worst piece of content you ever created. Please, give us a link so we can gaze at its horrid glory.

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Stop begging on social, it looks pathetic http://socialmedia.biz/2014/03/19/stop-begging-on-social/ Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:01:37 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=27177 Continue reading ]]> WARNING: Stop begging. You look pathetic.

Harassing people to share your content is not a social media strategy

Target audience: PR professionals, marketers, content creators, communicators.

David SparkIn a previous whitepaper, How to Trend on Twitter, I recommended that people blatantly ask for retweets because your followers want to help you out and would support you in your endeavors … up to a point.

But all of these pleas eventually start to have the reverse effect. If you constantly barrage your friends with RT and “please share” requests, they’re going to get irritated.

It’s like having a friend whom you’ve helped move once before but who asks you to do it again. Dude, hire some friggin’ movers!

The sentiment is the same when you continuously beg for RTs. Dude, hire a friggin’ publicist!

When retweets turn into a relationship-destroying strategy

Begging for RTs is not a marketing strategy. It’s a relationship-destroying strategy.

HazardousSocial150“Entitlement abounds on the social web with so many communications starting with ‘give me,’ ‘do this for me,’ or ‘share this with your fans’ without anyone ever thinking to create value first,” complained Lee Odden (@LeeOdden), author of Optimize CEO at TopRank Online Marketing, and editor at MarketingBlog.com.

“Asking for retweets is simply unnecessary,” noted illustrator Len Peralta (@lenperalta), “Either your content is compelling or it isn’t.”

“Earned attention comes from an investment in your community with real returns, not just superficial social shares. Creating value in meaningful and interesting ways before ‘the ask’ represents the kind of social media engagement that motivates action, and attracts even more fans,” said Odden.

This post is an excerpt from the ebook “Hazardous to Your Social Media Health: 50 Previously Condoned Behaviors We No Longer Recommend.” Includes insights and quotes from 56 social media influencers. Get your copy of the ebook for free.

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Free ebook: 58 annoying communications that must end http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/21/free-book-annoying-communications-that-must-end/ http://socialmedia.biz/2014/01/21/free-book-annoying-communications-that-must-end/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:50:36 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=26898 Continue reading ]]> 58 Annoying Communications That Must End

New communication annoyances that are now part of our lives thanks to social media

Target audience: PR professionals, marketers, content creators, communicators.

58 Annoying Communications That Must EndDavid SparkEvery year I write a post on my blog Spark Minute listing my least favorite communication annoyances. Amazingly, year after year, these articles have consistently been among my most successful articles.

Given their popularity, I decided to take this year’s list of annoyances, and the past three years of annoyances and compile them into an ebook of 58 annoyances you can download for free. Just register below to get your free copy (PDF, Apple iBook, and Kindle versions available).




For this post on Socialmedia.biz, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from writing these articles, and how people have responded to them.

What I’ve learned from four years of being opinionated

Contrary opinions invite debate: If you want lots of comments on your blog, express an opinion contrary to the common belief. For example, I argue that wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook is extraordinarily lazy since that’s all people do. They just type “Happy Birthday,” and nothing else. This controversial opinion has invited a lot of “I agree with a lot of what you have to say, but …” responses.

People love to have their annoyance validated: If you’ve been irritated by something, chances are you’re not alone. The mere act of publishing that annoyance allows you to find others who have experienced the same. They acknowledge it through their comments and sharing on social networks.

Annoying communications just don’t go away: One can’t just write about the irritating ways we communicate with each other and will them to go away. It just doesn’t happen unless you have complete control over the communications, such as Facebook did and the phenomenon of “Like”-gating. In my four years of complaining, it’s the only annoying communication that has truly disappeared. “Like”-gating is the process of putting up a roadblock to a Facebook page’s content that forces the user to “Like” the page if you want to see the page’s content. It’s an “effective” yet brand-damaging social media capturing technique. Luckily, “Like”-gating no longer exists, but there are other brand damaging social media capturing techniques that still exist. In the case of “Like”-gating, a single company, Facebook, was able to end the communication annoyance with a simple change in programming.

Except for “Like”-gating, all other annoyances have stuck around. My complaining may be entertaining, just not influential.

Comments offer fodder for future posts: My lists are far from exhaustive. That’s why I invite others to add their own annoyances. I will often mine comments from previous posts to write my posts for the following year. It’s important to look for those comments everywhere. Many won’t actually be in the comments of the post. In fact, for this year’s article, the overwhelming majority of them were on Facebook (450+ “Likes” on Facebook). Unfortunately, many of those comments were in threads I couldn’t see.

People like to publicly confess: It is inevitable that many of my readers will be guilty of many of these annoyances. Writing something like this can be dangerous as it might actually insult my readers. If it’s something I find annoying yet my reader does on a daily basis, I could get a “how dare he” and “I’m never reading his blog again” response. Surprisingly, the complete opposite happens. People are amused by the list and instead confess that they’re guilty of a few of the items. Some will say they won’t change, but others admit they’ll try harder not to do those things anymore.

Let me know: Am I full of it? Off base? Or do some of these habits annoy the heck out of you too?

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Worst business advice given to women founders http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/28/worst-business-advice-given-to-women-founders/ Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00:58 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25705 Continue reading ]]> Women 2.0 - Business Advice to Ignore

The entrepreneurs of Women 2.0 received & ignored the following advice

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, small business owners, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkIn April, I wrote an article 20 Pieces of Business Advice You Should Ignore. It was filled with often hackneyed advice that’s offered with little attention paid to the recipient’s business.

I followed up on this article at last month’s Women 2.0 Founder Friday event at Google’s offices in San Francisco, where I asked attendees about the worst business advice they’ve ever received. Here are their answers.

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17 productivity tips from founders & geeks http://socialmedia.biz/2013/08/13/productivity-tips-from-entrepreneurs/ Tue, 13 Aug 2013 12:01:13 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25706 Continue reading ]]> 17 Productivity Tips

How some of the smartest entrepreneurs get through their day

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkYou know what I’m never going to get? More hours in the day. What I need to do is find a way to make the most of the hours that I do have.

At SF New Tech in San Francisco last month, I asked startup pros who have zero concept of 9-to-5 work hours for their top tip for productivity. Some suggestions: Create rituals, take breaks and delineate micro-tasks to sustain productivity.

Here are their full answers in this 2-minute 30-second video:

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15 painful lessons you’ll learn working at a startup http://socialmedia.biz/2013/07/29/mistakes-youll-make-working-at-a-startup/ Mon, 29 Jul 2013 12:02:12 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25649 Continue reading ]]> 15 Painful Lessons You'll Learn Working at a Startup

Advice from entrepreneurs to smooth your journey

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkWorking at a startup is a series of one painful lesson after another. Startup entrepreneurs tend to congregate at tech events to commiserate or brag about startup life.

At the SF New Tech event in San Francisco earlier this month, I asked the attendees, all of whom work at a startup, what’s the most painful lesson they’ve learned. They had plenty, but each narrowed it down to just one. Watch.

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Are you using social media to serve your needs? http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/10/are-you-using-social-media-strategically/ Mon, 10 Jun 2013 10:01:56 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25127 Continue reading ]]> archive
Photo by splorp (Creative Commons)

Evaluate if social tools are helping you personally or professionally

Target audience: Small and mid-size businesses, marketers, entrepreneurs, startups, Web publishers, bloggers, Facebook administrators.

David SparkIam a huge fan of Delicious, the social bookmarking service. I started to use it to store really useful articles that I will “some day get back to.” (If you’re using alternatives like Diigo or a couple of dozen other choices, that’s fine too.)

The problem is that I never get back to them.
delicious

The fact that I never revisit is not really a failure on my part nor an issue because Delicious still serves its purpose: It’s a repository for my ongoing social media and search behavior. Every day I’m inundated with endless advice, recommendations, and useful tools. That searching and “check out this article” advice needs to be cataloged in some way even if I don’t systematically go back to the information and take an action on it (e.g., read). In that way Delicious still serves a valuable purpose.

Other people discover content and share it with others without consuming. It’s a way to game the social system to build your online profile, and it’s a really easy way to raise your Klout score.

I recognize the way I use Delicious may or may not be the same way others use the tool. This got me to thinking: What do the social media tools I use deliver for me personally and professionally?

Use social media when it serves a direct need

Using social media isn’t about finding the ROI, it’s about filling a purpose. If we wasted our time trying to calculate return on investment for every action we took, social media or not, we’d never get anything done. We’d waste too much time trying to prove what we’re doing has any financial payback.

Instead, every time you delve into a new social media program, ask yourself what purpose it fills for you personally or professionally. Keep asking yourself that question as it’s hard to determine a tool’s purpose until you start actually using it. That’s why budgeting a little time and money for experimentation is necessary. Testing serves its purpose to determine what’s most valuable for you.

You need to look at how a new social media effort or tool benefits you and your business and not how the creator necessarily intended it to be used. As an application developer, one of the most wonderful aspects of creation is watching how people discover new uses for your tool.

How is your social media use bucking the trend?

Do you use any tool or application that’s contrary to the way others use it? If so, what is it and how has it been valuable to you personally and professionally?

Related

Here’s what’s wrong with social media: Sharing without consumption (Spark Minute)

Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy (Spark Minute)

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55 expert tips to produce better & faster content http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/04/tips-to-produce-content-better-faster-content/ http://socialmedia.biz/2013/06/04/tips-to-produce-content-better-faster-content/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 11:22:51 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=25168 Continue reading ]]> Hacking Media Produciton

Advice to streamline your media workflow

Target audience: Content marketers, Web publishers, PR execs, journalists, producers, businesses, media organizations.

David SparkIn just the first 20 episodes of my podcast “Hacking Media Production,” I’ve collected hundreds of tips from journalists and producers on how to produce content better and faster. What follows is my selection of the 55 creative content production hacks.

If you like what you see and want to learn more, feel free to click through on any episode to listen to the interview and see lots more tips on that subject. And if you want to learn lots more, please subscribe to “Hacking Media Production” via iTunes.

From “Using Crowdsourcing Tools for Cheaper and Better Production”

1If you can think of it, someone may do it for $5: The site Fiverr is filled with mini creative services available for $5 such as drawing a cartoon of your dad, recording a voice-over message in Sean Connery’s voice, or even a bogus video testimonial for your product.

2Crowdsourcing design work still requires an art director: Be aware that using services such as 99designs or Crowdspring will cost more than you expect because you’ll likely need an art director to spend hours of time managing the contest and interacting with the designers to get the final product you want.

From “Crafting Popular Research Reports”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Crafting Popular Research Reports3Write the headline first, before you conduct research: Don’t try to figure out how to make your research sexy after you’ve done the work. Your first task should be to write catchy story headlines that will speak to the research you’ve yet to conduct.

4Get more content bang from your research buck: Craft your study so it’s able to feed the creation of at least three or four different stories.

5Hire a statistician: Basic cross tabulations won’t tell the whole story of your research. You’ll need a real statistician to uncover stories and behaviors the average Excel user won’t be able to see.

From “How to Write a Pitch that Journalists Won’t Laugh At”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Write a Pitch that Journalists Won’t Laugh At

6Don’t try to be clever: Being clever to dress up boring news doesn’t help. Neither does an opening icebreaker line such as, “Are you excited for the Super Bowl?”

7Be creative in what you’re offering: “Don’t be creative about how you package the pitch. Be creative about the news you’re trying to pitch,” said Harry McCracken, Editor-at-Large for Time.

8 Avoid disingenuous compliments: Many compliments to journalists today look as if they came through a database. Don’t think you’re fooling a journalist if you’re just referencing a recent story and saying how much you liked it.

From “Tips for Sharing Professional Photos at Live Events”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Tips for Sharing Professional Photos at Live Events

9Configure your Eye-Fi card for social sharing: This SD card can wirelessly upload your photos with appropriate labels and hashtags to a multitude of locations such as DropBox, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. After you configure make sure you send a test photo to the feed and then delete it.

10Entice others to tag, specifically on Facebook: Photograph a few key connectors at an event and then tag them when you post the photos on Facebook. These connectors will know others at the party and will inevitably tag them as well, saving you a lot of work and exposing your photos to people who didn’t know you.

11Tweet out some of your photos in intervals: If you’re uploading 400 photos from an event, you don’t want to flood your Twitter feed with all those photos. Instead, use a service such as Twitterfeed and have it tweet out the latest photo in 10 or 15 minute intervals.

From “Using Historical Data to Create New News”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Using Historical Data to Create New News

12News is something people don’t know: That doesn’t mean it’s new information. It means it’s information that hasn’t been covered. Services such as Google Patents are a treasure trove of weird and interesting information.

13Focus on patent drawings: The text in patents are filled with painfully long legalese. You’ll find a more interesting story a lot faster if you just focus on finding interesting drawings.

14Look for the current news hook to attach to old information: If it’s Christmas, look for Christmas patents. If a certain company is hot in your industry, look at their patents or patent applications.

From “How to Pitch a Speaker for a Conference”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Pitch a Speaker for a Conference

15Would people pay for it: This should be the barometer of whether your talk is something people will want to hear. People are traveling to the event and paying for a ticket. This presentation better be worth their time and money.

16Your presentation should not be Googleable: If the same information from your talk can be found in a Google search, then it’s not worth presenting, and therefore it’s also not worth paying for.

17Put the conference name in the subject of the email. This shows that it’s not a mass mailed email, plus it really shows you’re thinking specifically about a certain conference that this speaker would be appropriate for.

From “How to Run a Contest to Generate Free Content”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Run a Contest to Generate Free Content

18Emotion-based contests work best: If you give contestants a chance to express themselves, that’s often all they need to participate. The prize may not be a motivating factor.

19Do A/B testing on your contest question: To make sure you’re pushing out the very best version of the contest, do A/B testing and then push your marketing efforts toward the version that’s doing the best.

20Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on Facebook works: Contests have a very high click through rate on social networks with PPC advertising. Getting people to “Like” something because they’ll be entered into a contest is that little extra nudge most people need to actually click that “Like” button.

From “Tricks to Producing Corporate Comedy”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Tricks to Producing Corporate Comedy

21Easiest laugh is the recognition laugh: A big secret in corporate comedy is you don’t actually need to write a joke to get a laugh. You can often get laughs simply by acknowledging people within the company, especially people of power. Just mention that person in a non-business situation.

22Non-actors can only be themselves: If you’re trying to make people in your office funny, don’t have them play other characters. Let them be themselves, but in funny situations.

23Map corporate lingo to dialogue of scenario: Bring accounting terms in a “Star Trek” script, or maybe database architecture terminology to a pirate scenario.

From “Build an audience around content”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Build an Audience Around Content

24Web content is iterative media: You change your content based on the behavior of the audience. You’re creating your media property with your audience.

25Authentic and real wins in Web video: On traditional television, people work really hard at not being themselves. That’s not true with Web video. Be direct, open, and yourself.

26Strive for velocity of comments on video launch: A lot of comments in the first hour or two of a video will help make it more visible to people visiting YouTube. To help juice that initial push, let viewers know the host will be in the comments for the first two hours of responses.

From: “Tricks to Find and Report on Industry Trends in Real Time”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Report on Industry Trends in Real Time

27Real-time search tools level the reporting playing field: Even if you don’t live in the area where most of the news is happening, you can compete with those locals by using real-time search tools to effectively uncover breaking stories.

28Subscribe to vendor RSS feeds via SMS or instant messaging: This lets you know about breaking stories the moment they become available. Email is too slow because it often doesn’t come when the story breaks.

29Follow aggressive users of Delicious: For the sites and companies you care about, follow the Delicious users who are the first to bookmark their hot stories.

From “How to Sequence Your Video Quickly”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Sequence Your Video Quickly

30Create a shot list: Sounds basic, but even the most experienced producers forget to do this. Write down on paper the different shots you want to be able to tell your story. You’ll need this when you go to edit your piece.

31Listen for the details: Listen to specific things mentioned in the interview and then go get shots of those items.

32Zoom rule of 1-2-3: In post-production, the rule is don’t enlarge a shot more than 123 percent or you’ll start to see pixelation.

From “How to Launch a Competitive Content Site”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Launch a Competitive Content Site

33Don’t syndicate your content: While it may sound like a good idea, Google may perceive your site to be a spam site even if it’s the originator of the content. Your search engine ranking will plummet and it will take years to fix with Google.

34Make social media participation part of the job: Hire journalists to write and participate in social media. Pay them for getting involved with the audience.

35Put as much above the fold as possible: Whatever the audience wants, make it super easy to find and consume. If you can, create a condensed version of quick to find content in the upper left-hand corner.

From “Tricks to Building Your YouTube Audience”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Tricks to Building Your YouTube Audience

36Write a title for your subscribers first, and then one for everyone else: For the first version of your video have a simplistic title such as “Do this” that your subscribers will see first. The enticing title will drive a lot of traffic from your subscribers. After that plays for a week, go back and change the title and make it more search engine friendly.

37Content supersedes professionalism: Don’t spend as much time on professionalism but rather focus on the content itself. The content is far more important in driving views over the slickness of production quality.

38Collaborate with other YouTubers: Like rappers doing cameos on other rappers’ songs, find YouTubers in your same niche through a channel swap or just interviewing each other. You’ll be able to take advantage of your respective audiences.

From “Produce Just One Great Article Every Month”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Produce Just One Great Article Every Month

39Write evergreen stories that become industry staples: Don’t let time pressures dictate the release of stories. If you’re putting so much effort on a single article, let that piece be the definitive piece on that given subject for at least five years.

40Publicity across multiple issues, not just the current issue: If your stories don’t have a short shelf life, you can publicize back issues.

From “How to Create Really Fun Trivia Games”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: How to Create Really Fun Trivia Games

41Let your audience have fun not knowing the answers: Even if the audience doesn’t know the answers, the process of the game and the information learned from the game should be entertaining in itself.

42A good question invites fun speculation: Even if you don’t know the answer right away, a question can be presented in a way that the players can make educated guesses based on the information presented.

43Triple check your facts: Don’t always rely on one source. Make sure you have multiple sources verifying your information. One comment on a website, even if it’s Wikipedia, doesn’t cut it.

From “Produce a Daily Web Show in Two Hours”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Producing a Daily Web Show in Two Hours

44Have access to talent on all coasts: While some people are sleeping, those awake are doing research on the stories.

45Create timely content that’s evergreen: If you want your programming to be both popular and have legs, be timely on your content but let it have interest beyond the day it’s released. Weird news fits that description.

From “Using Storify to Produce Content”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Using Storify to Produce Content

46Uncovering the best of trending stories: When big stories hit, who’s providing the best information in terms of the best article, photo, and video? Storify is now analyzing trends and usage of its product to see which content gets used the most.

47Prompt your audience for content: Instead of just searching for reactions, many journalists are using Storify as an engagement tool by first asking questions of their audience. Those social responses are then reflected in their story.

From “Produce 100 Blog Posts in One Day”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Produce 100 Blog Posts in One Day

48Split your time between gatherers and publishers: If reporting at a conference, those at the conference will be the content gatherers and those in the back office can write and publish the content.

49Pre-write content: This is how you can “fake” 100 blog posts in one day. You start preparing the content beforehand. If you can, get embargoed content and write it off the blog. You don’t want to accidentally hit the “publish” button on information you agreed to embargo. It will ruin your chances of getting any embargoed content in the future.

50Take a picture of the specs: For accurate transmission of technical information to your back-office editors, photograph the specs in a trade show booth.

From “Producing Video for a Mobile and Social Audience”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Producing Video for a Mobile and Social Audience

51Lead the video with the most critical elements: Deliver on the promise of the headline immediately. If you don’t deliver this in the first four or five seconds of the video, you will lose the viewer.

52Break complex down into the simple: Take incredibly complex issues, look at the very core elements that make up the story, and just deliver that information. This is unlike 24-hour news media which must deliver an endless stream of information, often trying to fill hours of time.

53Sometimes you can let the raw video stand by itself: Given the success of “in the moment” YouTube videos, you can distribute raw video content without contextualization. Let the video speak for itself first and if appropriate cut another version with your editorial spin.

From “Secrets of Getting a Journalist to Quote You”

Hacking Media Production Podcast: Secrets of Getting a Journalist to Quote You

54You can get quoted while never speaking to a reporter: Email-based matchmaking services such as PR LEADS and Help a Reporter allow reporters to issue queries and get email responses which they can copy and paste into their stories. That means so many articles never include even a single phone interview.

55Respond fast: One reason you won’t get quoted is if you don’t respond fast enough. Journalists have deadlines. Sometimes they’re within hours, and sometimes weeks. Often they won’t clarify a deadline. Assume immediately. You’ll improve your chances of getting quoted with a prompt reply.

If you like what you read and want to learn lots more, please subscribe to “Hacking Media Production” via iTunes.

Creative Commons photo attribution to TenSafeFrogs, Happy Monkey, and Exit Festival. Permission to post photo by Pinar Ozger of Alfred Spector granted by GigaOM Events.  Stock photo of “Enter to Win” key courtesy of  Bigstock Photo.

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Lean Startup’s Eric Ries on building accountability into your startup http://socialmedia.biz/2013/01/23/lean-startup-eric-ries-on-building-accountability/ Wed, 23 Jan 2013 13:31:56 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=23769 Continue reading ]]>

Learn to measure what’s truly valuable to business development

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups.

David SparkWhether it’s the minimum viable product (MVP), pivots or continuous deployment, entrepreneurs love quoting the tenets of The Lean Startup movement.

leanstartupconf_logo“The Lean Startup is more than just the parts that fit on a bumper sticker,” said Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and co-host of the third annual Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco.

Ries admitted that these Lean Startup maxims are good as buzzwords, but it’s time for the movement to move beyond that. “If you want to improve entrepreneurial outcomes, you have to improve the accounting. Yes, I said accounting. The math of how we hold entrepreneurs accountable,” said Ries, who admits it’s a topic that nobody wants to talk about. But startups need to account for progress differently than their enterprise counterparts.

“If you want to improve entrepreneurial outcomes, you have to improve the accounting — the math of how we hold entrepreneurs accountable.”
— Eric Ries

“Unfortunately, most of the accountability and accounting systems used today — which work great for an established enterprise — are denominated in what we call vanity metrics,” he said. Vanity metrics refer to those very visible numbers that you pull out to show your levels of improvement and try to play off as success. Metrics such as pageviews and numbers of users for a fledgling company are often not representative of the true business model. At the beginning of the conference, Ries even joked that we should boo any presenter that presented such metrics. The crowd took him at his word and did (in jest) actually boo a couple of presenters.

Ries explained that you need to take a closer look at these metrics to understand what really matters to growing the business. For example, total number of users is not as valuable to business growth as how much a user would be willing to spend or how important the product is to a customer. If you’re measuring these variables correctly (even with just a few hundred users), you can start to see signs of progress before the vanity metrics come into play.

Validate your development against business goals

“All management revolutions have been led by engineers for a reason. And that’s because management is human systems engineering,” Ries explained. “When we’re thinking about ourselves as developers, we’re not thinking about management, we’re thinking about code. But humans write the code and humans use the code. So there’s no way to escape the human part of development.”

Our decisions are played out in code. As a savvy development group, you may have a whiteboard with stories (planned feature releases) queued up — backlog, in progress, completed — but Ries advised developers to add a fourth column: validated. After a story is done from a code complete point of view, move it into the validated column. Don’t remove it until you have evidence that it was a good idea to have done that story done in the first place, said Ries.

“We want you to start measuring productivity not in terms of how many stories did I crank out code-wise, but how many experiments do I learn from,” said Ries. “And I’ve seen that one simple technique have revolutionary impact in a lot of different software teams.”

This video was produced at the Lean Startup Conference where I was reporting for New Relic. Original post can be found on the New Relic blog.

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Techniques for working smarter — not harder http://socialmedia.biz/2013/01/17/techniques-for-working-smarter/ Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:44:44 +0000 http://socialmedia.biz/?p=23767 Continue reading ]]> Work smarter because no one is impressed with how few hours you slept

Target audience: Businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, general audience.

David SparkBragging that you’ve worked a 16-hour day doesn’t actually increase your bottom line. Success comes from being smart about how you work, which doesn’t necessarily mean you have to forgo sleep and family to be successful.

Much of the advice Eric Ries’ book “The Lean Startup” speaks to working smarter, not harder. At The Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco, we asked attendees how they plan on working smarter, not harder this year. Check out this 1 minute 16 second video to see what they’re going to do. Will you do the same?

This video was produced at the 2012 Lean Startup Conference where I was reporting for New Relic. The original post can be found on the New Relic blog.

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