March 18, 2015
The Power of Product Hunt
Chirp. That’s how it began. A single, simple, chirp from my Tweetdeck. I was in the middle of a meeting in my office when the tweet came in and I glanced only half-interested while deep in conversation. When I read the tweet however everything else stopped.
— Product Hunt (@ProductHunt) March 17, 2015
That was all it said. Added as a maker of Mautic. (Our open source marketing automation platform and community.) But I knew what this meant. I was very familiar with the twitter handle @ProductHunt. For those that don’t know what Product Hunt is here is a brief explanation. Product Hunt features a list of the best new products on the web. Every day the list is restarted. Throughout the day these items are voted on by the community and comments added. This social aspect allows trending of the most popular new items. For startups and early stage communities this is an incredible achievement and I was well aware of the power of Product Hunt. I’d even submitted Mautic in the past but had never heard anything back.
Happy St.Patrick’s Day
Now, here on St. Patrick’s Day, I had just received notice that we’d been added. Things kicked into high gear almost immediately. I excused myself from the meeting I was in and quickly informed the rest of the Mautic community that we had been “hunted” as Product Hunt refers to the adding of a new item.
And as expected, traffic spiked. (See graph above) We watched – anxiously monitoring our web servers as they creaked under the sudden load increase. But though we may have been anxious we had a confidence because we had some great tools in place.
Some Of Our Tools
We were using a CDN for static assets (CloudFlare is amazing), we also have a secret weapon (not too secret). We use New Relic. We could monitor throughput, response times, CPU usage, memory usage, and errors in live time. This was incredibly helpful as there were moment when we were registering a dozen accounts a minute and we found a problem with simultaneous registrations. We were able to fix them incredibly quickly and notify those few affected users directly. Remember, first impressions are everything! Zendesk was also a great help in monitoring and responding to any specific questions or support issues.
Of course we had thoroughly tested and re-tested to ensure we could handle a traffic increase and traffic spikes (we knew we would be wildly popular once people began to hear about Mautic). But there’s nothing like the confidence that when things are actually exploding you are capable of dealing with the situations as they occur.
Helping Continue Momentum
We continued the buzz by promoting Mautic’s addition to the list through various social media posts. We had to work fast because although we were aware of Product Hunt and hoped to be featured we had to create the resources on-the-fly. We created a custom short URL, http://mau.tc/prod-hunt which would be easy to share (Thanks to Bitly.) And then very soon after the announcement we released this on our social media platforms:
But we didn’t stop there. We continued to share the good news to hopefully increase the visibility of our listing throughout the day. We updated all our social media platforms at the same time. Following some good advice we didn’t stagger our announcements but posted everywhere.
Later we created a second social media announcement focused on the specialness of being listed on St. Patrick’s Day and later in the afternoon we released this graphic:
The response was tremendous. These social media posts helped to boost our presence and awareness of our placement on Product Hunt. As a result we saw an increase in upvotes on the site and our listing began to trend. Things continued to grow as a result and now, the day after we are still “above the fold” as we continue to trend into the second day on Product Hunt.
All in all the day was a thrilling and somewhat wild ride. We saw thousands and thousands of new users and an incredible response to Mautic. Just as we had all suspected, people are thrilled when they discover the power of free and open source marketing automation. My alert may have started with a single chirp from a single tweet, but it wasn’t long before the notifications were coming in so close together the sounds were overlapping.
If you have a startup or a young community then you may be aware of Product Hunt already. If not, you should be. If you are, take a look at some of the tips I shared above to help you capitalize on your listing and do everything you can to maximize your social sharing!
January 5, 2015
The Importance of Planning
Everyone loves to point out those projects which are immensely popular and claim they were overnight success stories. There is something glamorous about the idea that the next day it might be something new. Or, even better, that it might be their idea. Success is only a day away. Unfortunately this notion of instant success is more myth than fact. Some of the greatest companies that have been termed overnight success came from a very different background. The truth of the matter is much less glamorous and much more realistic. Great ideas involve planning. Planning is vitally important to success. Let’s look briefly at 5 reasons planning is important.
1. Planning helps identify goals
One of the most beneficial aspect of planning is in creating goals to accomplish. When you sit down and write out what you want to accomplish you will be surprised how this goal structure lends itself to creating a plan for accomplishing them. There are a couple of different strategies when working on goals. Some of the more popular include creating three goal types, short-term, mid-term, and long-term.
Short-term goals are those items you would like to see done in the next 2-3 days. These goals are quick, easy to accomplish and relatively simple goals. The mid-term goals are things you’d like to accomplish in the next few weeks or months. This is the broadest time scope and can vary in degree of difficulty. Ultimately each of these mid-term goals are concrete, well-defined goals which can be directly actioned. The last goal type is the long-term goal. These goals are much more abstract and contain more figurative type of language. These are the big picture goals and long-term aspirations you hold for your project.
Writing these goals out and organizing them into these three categories (of course you can use more if you like) will give you the great beginnings to a roadmap. This roadmap is what we’ll look at in our next point.
2. Planning offers directions
If you start creating your goals in the first step and organize them accordingly what you’ll find is you’ve begun to take the first step towards creating a roadmap. Planning a direction for your project or business involves creating a roadmap. Planning takes many different shapes and sizes and as you create this roadmap for accomplishing your goals you will find your planning is offering you great direction.
Business direction allows you to plan for a course of action you will take to accomplish your goals. Planning how you accomplish them is a valuable exercise for your business growth and development. As you plan you will put together a course of action. This course of action will help you to be prepared for what comes next. You’ll be ready to answer questions and you’ll have an advantage over others which have not prepared for their future.
3. Planning uncovers problems
You create your goals and identify your direction and you become prepared for what is coming next. The more prepared you are the better you are able to handle problems as they arise. Even more than handling problems as they arise the art of careful planning will help you to uncover potential problems before they even occur. When you work to carefully plan out a direction you’ll undoubtedly uncover possible bumps in the road along the way. If you aren’t careful in your planning you may never discover them until its too late.
Uncovering problems means finding solutions and implementing fixes before they become a reality. There are few things as exciting as fixing problems before they are even found. Being able to resolve conflicts and work around issues is an invaluable business advantage. Careful planning helps uncover problems.
4. Planning adds professionalism
Professionalism doesn’t mean stiff and stodgy. Just because you are professional it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Professionalism means you are prepared. Preparation is another word for planning. Planning adds a sense of professionalism to your business. When you plan your course of action, when you outline your goals, and when you uncover problems you give yourself the opportunity to be prepared for things that arise.
Being prepared keeps you from getting caught off-guard if things don’t go as planned. This is an important point. Planning does not mean everything always works as you intend. Errors, problems, and failures will still happen. Planning helps you stay professional as you handle those times. Planning keeps you prepared for when things don’t go as you hoped.
5. Planning gives perspective
Lastly, planning your goals and your direction helps to give you a clear perspective of what matters and what is possible to accomplish. As you create your goals you will focus on what you want to accomplish. Planning how to accomplish those goals will force you to organize them and also to prioritize them and put them in perspective. No one wants to waste time working on something that is not important. However, the day to day life of a startup or small business too easily gets overwhelmed and those goals and objectives get lost in the daily grind.
Planning helps to stay focused and to keep your perspective. Keep your perspective on your purpose and your future. Then and only then will you see success and you will be rewarded for your planning.
“Meticulous planning will enable everything a man does to appear spontaneous.”
– Mark Caine
Because as much as human nature likes to believe in overnight sensational success stories, the truth is more common. Perhaps a change to a well-known quote would be appropriate. Instead of “practice makes perfect” a better quote would be “planning makes perfect”.
Don’t believe in wild fantastical stories of instant fame; instead plan a course, identify goals, and move confidently towards accomplishing them. Maybe you will be the next company everyone is talking about.