Hootsuite Social Media Management » Mohamed Zahid http://blog.hootsuite.com Engage, Monitor, Collaborate and Analyze, Securely Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:35:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Simple and Powerful: HootSuite’s New Social Media Auto-Scheduler http://blog.hootsuite.com/new-social-media-auto-scheduler/ http://blog.hootsuite.com/new-social-media-auto-scheduler/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:32 +0000 http://blog.hootsuite.com/?p=59589 Auto-scheduling social media messaging is an absolutely essential tool for many individuals and businesses that just don’t have the time to pick and choose when to send Tweets... Read More

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auto-schedule-updateAuto-scheduling social media messaging is an absolutely essential tool for many individuals and businesses that just don’t have the time to pick and choose when to send Tweets or Facebook posts. HootSuite users need the ability to continually engage with their followers without having to sit in front of their computers or be on their phones all day.

A fast and easy way for our users to schedule messages without setting an exact time and date for every post, the auto-scheduler has always been one of our most popular tools. In fact, the convenience of auto-scheduling has made it the most popular type of scheduled message on HootSuite.

Because the tool is so popular, we get a lot of feedback on how it works, and we’ve been listening. We recognize that every user is different, and has different priorities and goals when it comes to social media. Previously the auto-scheduler selected times for messaging with the aim of maximizing engagement, but these times were not always optimal for each individual user.

With that in mind, we’ve created an auto-schedule calendar editor, a natural progression for our auto-scheduling feature. This new functionality allows you to choose on what days and how many times per day the auto-scheduler can post.

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The new social media auto-scheduler allows you to set limits on the number of posts and what days they’re posted.

Keeping the Auto-Scheduler Engaging

We then asked our users what they wanted to see in a scheduling tool and three requests came up again and again:

  • Specific time frames (eg. only post from 8am to 7pm)
  • Blackout days (eg. don’t post on Saturdays)
  • Schedule for multiple days ahead of time

Using that feedback, the auto-scheduling tool now works in two steps. The user sets bounds on which days to post, the minimum and maximum time each day, and how many posts per day. This only needs to be done once. Then the auto-scheduling algorithm successively fills in the slots with scheduled messages starting with the best time, then the second best time, etc. until the limit for the day is hit, then fills up the following day the same way.

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To access the autoscheduler options, click the settings tab on the left hand side of your dashboard.

How the Algorithm Works

You may be wondering about the algorithm and how it populates the calendar. Let’s say it’s Monday, and you schedule messages for Sunday to Friday (no Saturdays), from 8am to 8pm, with a maximum of 5 messages per day:

  • Different social networks are treated separately

  • Your first message will be slotted into the best time on Monday, the second message will be slotted into the second best time on Monday and so on until you hit 5 messages

  • The sixth message will be slotted into the best time on Tuesday, and so on until you have booked your auto-schedule calendar up to Friday.

  • The next message will skip over Saturday (remember, we turned it off), and will be slotted into the best time on Sunday.

The algorithm also works based on timezone.

“As any developer can tell you, working with international dates is a nightmare. To guard against irregularities such as daylight savings time in Rio de Janeiro, I built the algorithm using some battle hardened date time libraries,” explains Chris Noble, one of the developers on the HootSuite Labs team. “This allowed me to focus on the recursive algorithm itself instead of time zone differences.”

To test the new auto-scheduler, Chris first needed the segregate the existing tool. “This allowed me to then develop the new system in parallel. We have a dark launch system which allows us to turn new features and changes on and off for certain users,” he said.

We’re very excited about the launch of our new auto-schedule calendar editor and we’d love to get your feedback. Your comments, Tweets and social messages will help us on the next iteration as we continually improve our auto-scheduling functionality.

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What is Growth Hacking? PART II: Growth Hacking Grows Up http://blog.hootsuite.com/growth-hacking-part-2/ http://blog.hootsuite.com/growth-hacking-part-2/#comments Fri, 18 Jan 2013 16:50:19 +0000 http://blog.hootsuite.com/?p=35931 Mohamed Zahid is HootSuite’s User Growth Business Analyst. This is Part 2 of a growth hacking blog series authored by “Mo.” Catch up and read Part 1.  From Hacks... Read More

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Growth Hacking Part 2

Mohamed Zahid is HootSuite’s User Growth Business Analyst. This is Part 2 of a growth hacking blog series authored by “Mo.” Catch up and read Part 1

From Hacks to Formal Problem-Solving Framework

While the term is recent, growth hacking dates back to Hotmail’s “PS: I love you” hack and probably even earlier. A “hack” is a shortcut or workaround, and a “growth hack” is simply a workaround traditional distribution techniques.

Embedded video was YouTube's growth hack. In return for free video hosting, websites promoted the YouTube brand as the standard in video hosting by embedding YouTube-hosted videos on their websites. Only recently, has YouTube become a portal for video.

Embedded video was YouTube’s growth hack. In return for free video hosting, websites promoted the YouTube brand as the standard in video hosting by embedding YouTube-hosted videos on their websites.

The first generation of growth hacks focused primarily on users acquisition: this included everything from hyperlinks, viral growth, shares, invites, etc. These techniques were and still are incredibly successful, but a fundamental problem arose time and time again for companies overly focused on user acquisition to the detriment of a product’s other dimensions: you cannot fill a leaky bucket. These “growth hacks” could bring users to a landing page, but getting them to perform an action (or “convert”, eg. watching a YouTube clip, uploading a picture to Flickr, adding a friend on Facebook, following someone on Twitter or sending an email in Hotmail), let alone remain and come back to do it again was an entirely other struggle which many startups simply regarded as a bridge they would cross once they got there.

The term “hacking” also implies curiosity, and a strong desire to learn, iterate and progress. The new wave of growth hacking is much more product focused, working on the more difficult problems of user activation, engagement and retention. Instead of simply bringing as much traffic to a product as possible, the new currency is in trying to build an audience of core, engaged users (which in turn leads to high retention and possibly even virality).

With a decade of experience under their belts, growth experts and practitioners honed their craft, from simple and creative “growth hacks” to an elegant, stylized and quite frankly brilliant problem-solving framework (which I’ll explain in more detail in the next post). Combining internet marketing with engineering, analytics and product, enter the new growth hacker and fully-fledged growth teams, a phenomenon of recent years, who are gaining incredible traction in the Valley and elsewhere.

The Growth Hackers’ Conference: Growth Hacking as a Problem Solving Methodology

Growth Hackers ConferenceI recently attended the Growth Hackers Conference in Palo Alto. There was surprisingly little talk about literal “growth hacks.” Rather, the real focus of the conference was on the discipline’s next big challenge, which was getting the user to a product’s core value as quickly and as often as possible (to paraphrase Chamath Palihapitiya, ex-VP Growth at Facebook, whose rules for growth I will explain in the next part of this series).

The premise seems so obvious that if one hadn’t spent years focused solely on trying to ramp up user signups, it would appear a trivial suggestion. But at the same time, it’s incredibly robust. Most marketing and distribution is focused on the start and finish, with the middle being somewhat of a mystery.

I’ll end on a high note by quoting Andy John’s brilliant analogy regarding growth teams and growth hackers: “growth teams are technology’s equivalent to a finance team, rather than capital, they optimize the flow of users in and out of your product.”

Growth hacking is a young, fragmented and vast discipline, but this series is an introduction to the discipline. In the next post, I will explain Facebook’s four pillars of growth, setting them on the path to a billion users.

PS: I love you. Questions and comments are most welcome.

The post What is Growth Hacking? PART II: Growth Hacking Grows Up appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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http://blog.hootsuite.com/growth-hacking-part-2/feed/ 2 Growth Hacking YouTube Growth Hack Embedded video was YouTube's growth hack. In return for free video hosting, websites promoted the YouTube brand as the standard in video hosting by embedding YouTube-hosted videos on their websites. Only recently, has YouTube become a portal for video. Growth Hackers Conference
What is Growth Hacking? PART 1: The “Hack” http://blog.hootsuite.com/growth-hacking-part-1/ http://blog.hootsuite.com/growth-hacking-part-1/#comments Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:50:59 +0000 http://blog.hootsuite.com/?p=35920 Mohamed Zahid is HootSuite’s User Growth Business Analyst. This is Part 1 of a growth hacking blog series authored by “Mo.”  “P.S. I love you. Get your free... Read More

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Growth Hacking Part 1

Mohamed Zahid is HootSuite’s User Growth Business Analyst. This is Part 1 of a growth hacking blog series authored by “Mo.” 

“P.S. I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail.”

Hotmail launched in 1996, when the consumer internet was still a fledgling idea. Growth was slow to start and the team started bandying around the idea of putting up billboards to promote the revolutionary idea of a free web-based email service. During these first few weeks, however, an interesting figure stood out: 80% of new signups found out about the service from a friend. This gave seed investor Tim Draper the simple, yet brilliant, idea of a message at the bottom of every Hotmail email.

Mohamed Zahid

Mohamed Zahid, HootSuite User Growth Business Analyst

It was an instant hit (the final version lacked the “PS: I love you.”). With the addition of just six words at the bottom of every Hotmail email sent, the product itself became Hotmail’s promotion and distribution channel. From an initial pool of a few thousand users, within hours growth became exponential. Fast-forward to December 31st, 1997, just a year and a half after launching, Hotmail had 12 million users (out of a total internet user base of 70 million — this would be the equivalent to having over 400 million users today) and was purchased by Microsoft for a record-breaking 500 million dollars. Hotmail’s “PS: I love you” was the most lucrative postscript in history and one of the first documented “growth hacks.”

Every product has two problems: design and distribution. How do you make a great product and how do you get it into as many hands as possible? Traditionally, if you wanted to get people to choose your product over a competitor’s, you had two options: sales teams or advertising spend. The problem with both options is that they are expensive (the classic adage being “half of your advertising budget is wasted, you just don’t know which half”).

Growth Hacking: An Elegant  Solution to the Distribution Problem, Made Possible by the Internet

Every startup has a limited “runway” in which to “take off.” Every day that goes by before reaching critical mass or figuring out your monetization strategy, your runway gets shorter. Constraints breed creativity and growth hacking grew out of the need to build an audience as quickly and affordably as possible.

The internet is a revolutionary distribution platform with few costs and even fewer frictions. With a little creativity and some hard work, many startups were able to completely bypass traditional ad spends and sales teams. They leveraged everything from affiliate programs and other referral traffic sources (including link circles), to SEO, social media, email marketing, and anything else they could come up with to acquire users.

Draw Something: Fun, For a while

(What you’re probably thinking right now is: “Gosh, I haven’t played that game in ages.”)

A Draw Something game between two owls

A Draw Something game between two owls

Just to bring everyone up to speed, Draw Something is essentially Pictionary on your iPhone. Brilliant, right? Draw Something is famous for its hyper growth: it went from zero to 100 million daily active users in under six months and lost those users almost as fast. Easy come, easy go.

Draw Something absolutely nailed user acquisition, engagement, and virality (by leveraging Facebook connections for invitations): the more friends you invited or added to Draw Something, the more people you could play with. The game was simple, easy to get into and provided instant and recurring gratification. As a result, one person discovering Draw Something invites ten, and those ten people invite ten each, and so on and so forth. Add in Facebook integration for invites as easy as a “select all” button, and you’ve got a runaway hit.

What Draw Something didn’t nail, and perhaps we can’t fault it, as it may have been inherent in its game design, was user retention. The game’s simple mechanics lead to the novelty of it wearing off rather quickly and daily/monthly active users fell off a cliff. With a 183 million dollar price tag, this left Zynga with one of the world’s most expensive email lists.

Groupon: Grand Openings and Not Much Else

Much like Zynga, companies like Groupon and Livingsocial did an amazing job at growing their user base by aligning the incentives of the user with their own. For Groupon and Livingsocial, inviting friends over Twitter, Facebook or email to get the same deal, allowed you to get your deal for free. Add to the that the fact that it was a generally a great deal, so there was no downside to sharing the deal with friends (“$50 for ten spin classes, my friends would love this and we can go together!”). But that’s half the story.

Groupon and Livingsocial are two-sided markets and so, much like eBay or etsy, it has two types of customers to keep happy at all times: buyers and sellers. Groupon’s leaky bucket problem took place with the latter, actual brick and mortar businesses. For example, let’s say you’re opening a bakery. You want to have a huge grand-opening and have decided that for one day only, everything in the bakery is free. You sell out in two hours with lines around the block. Was it a success? Well, it depends. Did anyone come back the next day? Therein lies Groupon’s (and Livingsocial’s) problem.

Groupon’s business model was to provide small businesses with their own “growth hacks,” a coupon, shareable over the internet (hence, putting the “group” in “Groupon”). The problem wasn’t that people weren’t buying Groupons, it was that they didn’t come back and pay the full-price. The Groupon deal is meant to be a loss-leader, meaning that if customers don’t come back for a full-price massage or another flying lesson, businesses stood to lose a lot of money from a very expensive and ineffective customer acquisition campaign.

The Limits to Growth

Draw Something and Groupon are textbook illustrations of every company’s worst nightmare: the leaky bucket. Just as growth hacking grew out of necessity, it matured out of experience. Rapid growth can easily mask underlying problems, which only become apparent when growth slows. Growth hacking is shifting its focus to user engagement and retention.

In Part 2, I’ll explore growth hacking’s shift to a holistic problem-solving framework and how companies like Facebook and Airbnb are using it to build long-lasting, solid businesses.

Check out Part 2.

Try HootSuite Pro and leverage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more for your own growth hacks!

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