How do you start when you first check your computer in the morning? Please tell me: as I am thinking about what we should add next in Seesmic Desktop (ex-Twhirl) it will help me prioritize what we should add.
Here is my sequence in general, with lots of new steps now that we are focusing so much on helping everybody build their community
The most important
-my email, see if anything important with the company happened during my sleep
-check seesmic.com and the stats of everything we do (number of downloads, seesmic for facebook stats etc)
-check the company chat backchannel (powered by Skype)
What everybody is saying
-check what everybody is saying on Twitter about Seesmic, Twhirl and… yes I check my name too
-check what everybody is saying on Google blog Search
Say hi to my community
-say hi on Twitter, which also posts to Facebook and other social software
-often a quick short video
Read (and answer what I can) my social software replies (that includes seesmic and twhirl):
-my Twitter @replies
-my direct messages
-my Skype chats
-my seesmic video replies
-my blog comments
-my Facebook page and Seesmic's page comments
-my YouTube comments
-my Friendfeed comments
-my Flickr comments
Read the news
-Read the friends I follow on Twitter
-Key blogs and friends (I won't name them here, save it for a later post)
-See the front page of the NY Times and sometimes some french press
-If I have time also read my Google reader (I have to admit that's less and less)
-I start to pay attention to two Ning communities these days, Triiibes and Geeks so I check what's happening there
The whole process takes 30 mins to one hour, every morning. How about you? What is your sequence? Did I miss anything important?
coming next: the sequence to share online as after reading… I generally share too!
One of the golden rules I have always applied to anything I do is to never criticize my competitors, here is why.
You never know what they or you will do next, they could be partners soon. I have many ex-competitors who became very close friends helping me all the time.
It is bad publicity for you, focus on the positives and improve your own product than try to criticize others. You build a bad image for yourself if you keep criticizing others.
They could buy your company. France Telecom launched in 98 a product directly competing with mine with an ad that looked like ours. Instead of criticizing I took them to lunch and a few weeks later they acquired my company.
Competition is good. Celebrate competition, it kicks your butt to deliver a better product faster. Celebrate it and just be better.
Competition grows your entire space. The more players on the market, generally the bigger the market.
Meet them. Have lunch. Exchange information. Both of you will learn. Don't reveal all your plans, but some sharing is really good.
You could work with them to grow the space. I had launched with competitors in 96 the French Chapter of the Internet Advertising Bureau. We defined format standards for banner ads, put together a book and we all got more business from sharing and working together.
Say your competitors have great products and recommend them, you will build trust.
Even if the temptation is very high when you think what you do is better, never criticize them. If you want to be extreme, you could do what Robert Scoble does, instead of pitching his product, Robert pimps his good competitors and explain what are the important criteria to make a choice. A conversation starts and his image gets reinforced by the community reactions.
That is also what Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos does. If you call customer service and they do not have a product in stock, they recommend you to a competing site. The result is they are happy about their experience and likely to come back to you first next time they have something to buy.
The word of mouth in public has never been as fast and worldwide with the Twitter growth. More important than marketing or advertising is what your community, your users, are saying about your product or your brand.
Listen first to everything being said about your brand on Twitter search (follow the space as well, your competition and the key players)
Sort what you see into categories, here are a few:
new features requests
people recommending your products to their friends
Decide if there is an action needed or not to every single one, I would go for the negatives and help request first
Answer them as fast and as best as you can
Get into a private conversation with the user if the conversation continues and follow up until he is happy
It is easy to describe how to do it best but much more difficult to actually apply it to your brand especially if people talk a lot about it. I think it is worth the time and resources investment.
A good case study: Robert Scoble yesterday saw me saying on Twitter that our web host for Seesmic, Servepath, went down for more than 5 minutes and took some of its customers sites down entirely. Robert follows me but probably also follows Rackspace his new employer. Robert took this opportunity to write a blog post and we got into a conversation on Twitter and his blog.
In a matter of minutes, representatives from both Servepath (our host) and Rackspace (Robert’s company interested in getting our business) started to get in the conversation with many customers of both commenting at the same time. It was priceless information about their services but also competitive information for the companies themselves. All in public, that is very new.
I have insisted that I was not dissatisfied in general by Servepath but of course annoyed that we went down entirely for a significant time given the budget allocated to our hosting. Now Amazon went down a few times too and I take it Rackspace has its problems too, but this is not my point here.
I presented to MBA students of the Golden Gate University what I am learning daily in building a product in the open with the feedback of our company and my personal community.
Listening and sharing with your community is the best way to build a product I think as it has a high chance to meet their needs. Here is what I can share building Seesmic and Twhirl in the open, with all the feedback of our friends.
Thank you Professor Blodwen Tarter and the students for hosting me, I had great time. I also experimented for the first time streaming live on my channel and had about 100 people in total who followed all or part of the presentation, more than in the room.