This post originally appeared on the Buffer blog and was republished with permission.
When it comes to helping you out with Social Media, we often like to categorize things. For example, we’d write about the optimal timing of your posts, or how to come up with the best headlines, and the like.
What happened over the last few weeks though is that we collected a number of awesome tips to post on Social Media, that didn’t quite all fit together. So we thought, why not creating a list of unique tips, that might not have that much in common, but are hopefully still very useful for you!
So, here we go, a list of six rather random Social Media tips to help you improve your marketing today:
Here’s Jay’s Tweet, which he used as an example:
The mistake is an easy one to miss, but it all comes down to the very start of the Tweet. Starting a Tweet with a username (this one starts with @HubSpot) means that only the sender, the person mentioned and anyone who follows them both will see it.
In this case, Jay and HubSpot will both see the Tweet in their timelines, and anyone who happens to follow both Jay and HubSpot will see it in their timelines.
Of course, anyone who scrolls through Jay’s whole Twitter profile would see it as well, but we want to focus on getting your Tweets into the timelines of your followers.
So, how do we solve this? If you really want to start your Tweet with a username, add a period to the beginning, like this:
So next time you want to Tweet about someone, don’t forget to add a period at the beginning if you want all of your followers to see it!
Convince & Convert founder Jay Baer shared a great tip in this Social Media Examiner post for scheduling your updates at just the right time.
If you’re trying to reach business people like marketers, office workers or managers, this is especially handy. Jay sets his Buffer schedule to post updates just before or just after the hour. He does this to catch people who are checking social media just before or just after a meeting.
Here’s Jay’s example:
Meeting is scheduled from 1-2 pm. Meeting lets out slightly early at 1:57 pm, and attendees check Twitter on the way back to their desk. Meeting goes a little long, and that dip into social media occurs at 2:03 pm.
Jay also makes a note that scheduling Tweets around common lunch and dinner times (if you can—time zones can make this a bit difficult) is a good way to make sure more of your posts are seen. When look further into the science of timing, there’re also some other great tips beyond Jay’s ideas.
One tip that I learned from Leo when I joined Buffer was to keep an eye on who shares my content on Twitter.
Just by monitoring mentions of my username, I can find people who are interested in the posts I write, and then quickly follow them or favorite their Tweet.
This is a good way to gather more followers who enjoy your content. You can also use a Twitter search to find people who aren’t mentioning you by name.
Try searching for your website’s name or URL, your full name and any specific keywords or hashtags that you use. If you don’t have time to reply to all of the matching Tweets, a quick favorite can help you make contact with those users.
Being able to get more Twitter followers with a number of tips that simply show gratitude are my favorite, since they’re completely non-intrusive and build on your previous efforts. We’ve written about more examples here.
Facebook has had some pretty strict guidelines for running promotions on your Page in the past, and it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re not in breach of any of these. In fact, their recent big algorithm change, turned the Facebook marketing world upside down.
What you might not know is that Facebook has actually lifted some of the rules for running promotions (they’re fond of changing things at Facebook). A recent Socially Stacked blog postlooked at five of the guidelines Facebook has removed:
1. Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.
You can now run promotions on your Timeline or by using a third-party application.
2. You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.
Now that you can run promotions on your Page’s Timeline, you can require a Comment or Like on your post for entry. You still can’t ask fans to enter by sharing your post on their own Timeline, though.
3. You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.
Not only can you ask fans to Like or Comment on a post to enter your competition, but you can use Likes as a voting feature now, as well.
4. You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.
You can actually use a Like on your Page or a check-in to your business as entry into a promotion, now. Since Likes aren’t differentiated for promotions, however, the Socially Stacked team don’t recommend using this option.
5. You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.
Facebook has relaxed this guideline, so that you can now use the comment stream, status updates, your own blog or website, and even email or Twitter to notify winners.
Being in the know of Facebook’s changes is crucial, especially as they’re changing things so often and frequently.
If you have a local business, or you manage the Facebook Page for one, this tip can improve engagement.
If you add a full address in your Page’s settings, your fans and local visitors can check-in to your business on Facebook.
You’ll need to make sure your Page is registered as a local business in the business type section for this to work, so it’s not for everyone. If you are a local business though, why not take advantage of this feature! For more Facebook tips, be sure to look at our Facebook section where we highlight a lot more.
For those of you who use YouTube as a main marketing channel, this is a great tip. It’s a really simple, easy way to increase subscribers to your channel.
This post on the Gleam Marketing Blog explains how to add a small light-box pop-up to your YouTube page, encouraging visitors to subscribe:
All it takes is adding this extra bit of text to the end of your YouTube URL whenever you share it:
Pretty easy, right?
What other social media tips do you have that I missed? Let us know in the comments
See the original post: 6 random social media tips to help improve your marketing today
LinkedIn today announced it’ll soon be closing a couple of its less integral services, citing the need to concentrate “on fewer things” to ensure that its business and enterprise-focused social network is successful. The most notable closure is Intro, a service that brings information about the millions of LinkedIn users inside the default iOS Mail app.
Based on Rapportive’s technology – a startup LinkedIn acquired for $15 million in February 2012 – Intro was designed to give you further information about people who are contacting you via email. Whether that’s a business proposition or a quick invite to meet up for a beer, with Intro enabled you can glimpse at their LinkedIn profile and familiarise yourself with their occupation, place of employment and prior experience.
LinkedIn launched Intro in October last year, but said today that it would be closing the service on March 7. Members can continue to use Rapportive to review LinkedIn profiles inside Gmail on the desktop, however.
LinkedIn was at one point criticized for Intro’s security, with one researcher describing it as “a target for someone that wants to get to your e-mail.” The company defended then defended the service and its implementation in a blog post. “We made sure we built the most secure implementation we believed possible,” the company said. “We explored numerous threat models and constantly challenged each other to consider possible threat scenarios.”
LinkedIn will also shutter Slidecast, a feature within Slideshare that allowed you to attach an audio file to a presentation or slideshow. The service will close on April 30, although it’ll still be possible to view Slidecasts without their audio counterparts after this date. ”The SlideShare team will continue to focus on building new products and improving our existing experiences to make our products even better for our members,” Deep Nishar, SVP for products and user experience at LinkedIn said in a blog post.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
For the past 24 hours, my Facebook newsfeed has been predominantly filled with just two things:
1) People sharing those cutesy automated “Look Back” videos that Facebook made for most of its users to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary
2) People complaining that they hate their Look Back
Don’t like yours? Too many pictures of your ex? Don’t sweat it too much. Facebook is working on an edit tool, we’ve learned.
I’d heard from a source just after the Look Back videos started rolling out that there was supposed to have been an edit tool built in — apparently, it just wasn’t ready to go in time for Facebook’s anniversary. The tool would allow you to pick alternative photos/clips if you weren’t into the ones that Facebook’s Emotion Bot 4000* picked for you.
[* I might have just made this name up. And by "might" I mean I did.]
Sure enough, a support page for the “Look Back” feature has lingering mentions of an “Edit Your Movie” button that doesn’t exist, further suggesting that the option was supposed to have been there to begin with.
I reached out to Facebook about a few issues users were having with Look Back, and a rep from the company confirmed the feature:
“We will be launching an Edit feature soon that will allow people to change moments in their movies or update the ones they shared. I don’t have exact timing at the moment, but this will enable people to remove a post from the movie that was pre-selected and change it to a different one.”
With Facebook getting into video automation and building up a user interface for making tweaks, it’s pretty easy to imagine that this won’t be a one-off thing for the company. With all of the content people post on Facebook, they can do all sorts of these videos. Annual recaps of your year on New Years Day? Auto-magic video compilations following an event, made up of your and your friends’ uploaded pictures? Now that they’ve built out the base functionality, turning it into a proper, regularly occuring feature is a matter of tweaking the auto-selection algorithms.
If you still haven’t figured out how to find your look back, here’s the link.
Read the original post: Don’t Like Your Facebook “Look Back”? You’ll Be Able To Edit It Soon.
Slipping software release schedules are hardly new. Today ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported that she is now hearing, contrary to prior information, that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will ship not in March, but in April. As expected, it will ship as part of a Patch Tuesday event, meaning we’ll most likely see the new code on April 8.
Microsoft declined to comment.
Now, what’s interesting in this is that Update 1 is now a post-Build release, instead of a pre. This makes Build itself tricky for Microsoft, given that on a March schedule developers have had the code out far enough before Build that they would have been well versed with its intricacies in time for the event.
With this new schedule, instead, developers will be clamoring for information on the code that won’t come out until several days after the conference ends. Microsoft can’t very well tell developers during its developer event what is coming in four days. That would cause a riot.
What do we know about Update 1? Mostly that it will contain a number of improvements to make Windows 8.1 easier to use with a mouse and keyboard, which is still by far the most popular way to interact with Windows. Also, the ability to pin and see Metro apps in the desktop task bar is coming. The Windows Store itself will likely now come auto-pinned there, perhaps driving more use of the store itself.
I’d break down the latest application download figures for the Windows Store, but Microsoft yanked the numbers, provided a single blog post as explanation, and has clammed up since. So, it’s hard to tell how things are going.
At whatever rate, if you were hoping for new code in about a month’s time, get patient, because you likely have two to sit through.
Top Image Credit: Dell Inc. under Creative Commons license (via Flickr, Image cropped)
Original post: Windows 8.1 Update 1 Reportedly Pushed Back To April
As Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday today, we were drawn to think back to our early days using the service and our first ever Facebook statuses.
Most of us have changed our approach to using Facebook over the years, so here various members of the TNW team look back at how their relationship with the social network has evolved. TL;DR? It’s complicated.
My early days on Facebook were spent accumulating friend connections to everyone with whom I went to school – most of whom I’ve interacted with precisely once each in the years since.
As I gravitated to Twitter, my usage dropped off before Facebook settled into a comfortable place in my life where I tend to check it a couple of times per day but usually not much more. Facebook Messenger is a useful tool from time-to-time, and I often use my login as a convenient way of setting up an account on apps I try out, but it’s hardly a core part of my daily life.
I definitely could get more out of Facebook if I put more in, but for me it’s a question of time. Twitter fits around your life; Facebook is more demanding of your time – time I don’t tend to have these days.
My Facebook use grew very quickly to crazy proportions between joining and around the middle of last year. However, since then, my social media allegiance has swung massively over to Twitter with me posting to Facebook less than 1-2 times a week (if that!). I love it less than I used to, but it is still my destination of choice for brief personal social interactions with family and friends (now and then!).
Oh gosh, the era when Facebook forced you to write statuses that begin with active verbs! Natt is this, Natt is that. As far as I can tell, in 2007, Natt is a dork.
I can’t say I quite remember what this status referenced other than the obvious. I had just graduated high school and joined Facebook to keep in touch with old schoolmates and to-be friends in college. Facebook acted as a bulletin board of feelings, upcoming events, and occasionally, the very quirks that keep me as random as ever.
Whatever the reason was for practicing those light saber skills, I hope they become useful when the zombie apocalypse hits.
I used to comment on other people’s walls, first thing I posted was photos of a trip to Japan — but they are set to private
I’ve always been a casual lurker rather than a super-engaged Facebook user, but my opinion of it changed massively when I left the UK for Asia in 2008. Initially, few people in Thailand used Facebook, but these days it is a phone book used by all.
People in the West are more negative about Facebook, perhaps due to fatigue and privacy concerns, but I’ve seen its power to bring people together and be their Internet experience all on its own. Facebook is unique in having over 1 billion users per month, and I think it and Mark Zuckerberg have the potential to do a lot of good improving access to information and communication across the world.
I used to post tonnes of photos to Facebook, of holidays and such like. I hardly post any photos any more – I’m really not sure why. I guess it assumes people are really bothered about seeing your snaps, when in fact they’re not.
These days, Facebook for me is more of a ‘Visible email platform for groups’, if that makes sense. I get lots of group messages, about organizing holidays, birthday parties and such like. I don’t leave many status updates, but when I do it’s typically sharing a video or news article that I think is genius in some way, or the occasional ‘funny’ pun that I’ve pilfered from the Internet.
I’m definitely sensing a gradual shift away from Facebook as a communications platform. I discovered tons of people I know use WhatsApp, and I have maybe 5 or 6 groups set up in there, for organizing things and sharing photos/videos that perhaps aren’t best suited to Facebook. I also discovered a good friend who now lives in Korea uses Kakao Talk, so I’ve been using that too.
I think Facebook will definitely still have its place, and I’ll probably not stop using it, but there’s plenty of alternative avenues for sharing and communicating now than when I first joined Facebook in 2007. I see Facebook more as a platform ‘for everyone I’ve ever known’, and other services such as WhatsApp for actual good friends.
I can’t really find my first status. Seems like some are missing, but I never really got into posting status updates on FB.
I joined Facebook when it first arrived at UC Berkeley in the fall of 2004, back in the days when it still had the “the.” There was a ton of buzz on campus about the service that fall as students signed up to check out their classmates.
I don’t use Facebook on a daily basis anymore, but it’s still the default method for keeping in touch with old friends and extended family. My News Feed has become extremely noisy, but no other social network has the near-ubiquitous reach that Facebook does. Now almost ten years later, it’s easy to take for granted how convenient it is to have almost all of our contacts in one place.
Dare you share your first Facebook status with us?
Image credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images
The rest is here: These were our first ever Facebook statuses, what was yours?
India’s Supreme Court has deferred hearing of a defamation case against the local unit of Google on whether it’s liable for offensive comments posted by a user on Blogspot.com. The case has been in play for three years.
The case, originally filed by a Hyderabad-based construction company Visaka Industries, underscores growing concerns around Internet freedom in India and several grey areas in interpreting the Internet laws that could have an adverse impact on everybody from Google to Facebook and Twitter. A Google India official confirmed that the case will now be taken up after four weeks.
However, the laws in India are still unclear.
In 2009, India changed laws to hold Internet companies liable for any “offensive” content on their site. Basically, this means that the Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter can be held liable for any “offensive” comments posted by a user. Later, in December 2011, the Indian government asked Google and others to pre-screen user content and remove anything defamatory. The government also asked Google and other social media sites to delete any content deemed objectionable.
Since then, several users have been booked for Internet offenses. In 2012 for instance, police arrested two women in Mumbai for making “offensive remarks” against a politician on their Facebook pages.
The precedent isn’t looking good for Google. In 2011, Google lost a case against Visaka in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and appealed to the higher court saying it has no control on what users post.
Meanwhile, cases like these are making it even tougher for users and the Internet firms to interpret what’s wrong and right. The consequences of any criminal proceedings can be really damaging for Google if held liable. As the WSJ noted, Google managers in India could face fines starting from around $1,600 and even life imprisonment if convicted.
In November last year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt even made an appeal to the Indian government to give up on Internet censorship. Schmidt had written a piece for the book “Reimagining India” by McKinsey.
India has been tightening its grip on social media using the 2008 Information Technology (Amendment) Act that allows increased censorship.
India also ranks quite low on Internet Freedom, according to this report by the Freedom House. The Freedom House adds that the Central Monitoring System, partly in place since April 2013, seeks to equip a range of agencies to monitor any electronic communication in real time, without informing the target or a judge. A bigger challenge facing users and Internet companies in India is that they can be held liable and even arrested for making any “offensive” comments on the web and social media.
This is how Freedom House describes the current state of Internet freedom in India.
A 2008 Information Technology Act amendment allowed officials to issue blocking orders to internet service providers (ISPs), outlining a procedure and protecting compliant companies from legal proceedings. But 2011 intermediary guidelines under the same Act introduced a different process, making companies liable to criminal penalties if they fail to delete or take down content which any individual flags as “offensive.”
Like many governments around the world, India too has been justifying these actions citing security threats. But the problem is lack of clarity on the IT Act’s punitive section 66. “During the coverage period of this report, police arrested at least 11 people for social media posts—including tags, ‘likes’ and closed group comments—under the section’s vague ban on annoying, offensive, or menacing messaging,” the Freedom House said in its 2013 report.
If Google loses this case, it will be held accountable for criminal activities on its network. This will force Google and others including Facebook, Twitter to ensure monitoring of posts and comments all the time. This kind of tracking will be “humanly impossible”, according to a top executive at a large Internet company based in India.
To be sure, it could take few months after the Supreme Court starts hearing Google’s plea for any judgement to be passed. But officials at Facebook, Twitter and Google are anxiously watching the developments as a test case for how to do business in fast-growing, developing markets like India.
The 7th video in the new WordPress Basics video series. Here we show you how to make your first post in WordPress.
See original here: WordPress Basics #7 – Our First Post
“Facebook may have an irreversibly bad brand,” wrote 22-year old Branch founder Josh Miller in December 2012 in a post about his 15-year old sister’s predilections for social apps. Almost a year later, his chat startup was acquired by Facebook. Awkward.
The “criticize Facebook” > “get bought by Facebook” dynamic in the Branch/Potluck acquisition was so ironic, it was the first thing to come to mind for many upon hearing the news of the merger. Will Oremus over at Slate wrote a whole post peppered with critical quotes from Miller, ending with a quote from SLC Punk: “I didn’t sell out, I bought in.”
Miller had successfully “negged” Facebook.
For the lucky people who are unfamiliar, the concept of “negging” comes from the decades-old craft of pickup artistry, and involves the pickup artist saying something mildly insulting to a target, in order to pique their attention and make them feel like they have something to prove e.g. ”You have a pretty face, but you’d be even prettier if you’d lose the bangs.” The purpose of negging is to take your target ”down a notch” and make them want you more.
Despite Facebook’s Achilles’ heel being teens at the moment, Miller’s negging was just not limited to that sore spot. In one of the multiple posts he wrote about Facebook’s flaws, “Facebook needs Air Jordans,” Miller underscored Facebook’s need to get off its laurels and build standalone apps.
Mr. Zuckerberg, you know those 70 engineers that you had working on Graph Search?
Take ten of them and task them with rethinking online dating. Call it Bar, put the Facebook logo in the footer.
Then take another ten engineers and have them figure out why half of my friends can’t find jobs, even though the other half are working at firms which are hiring. Call it Cover Letter, put the Facebook logo on the About page.
In a post called “The New Facebook” (it really doesn’t get much better than this), Miller compared his eventual parent company to a suburban basement.
Previously, Facebook’s competitive advantage was that it took a lot effort to establish social connections on new services. With Contacts access, that’s less true. Thus, people are flocking to new services.
It’s sort of like the Internet just turned twenty-one! Before, you could only drink in your friend’s suburban basement. Now all of a sudden you can go wherever you want — clubs, bars, you name it.
From what we hear these posts were not brought up during acquisition talks, which first started when Branch was a mere twig, and progressively got more serious when other suitors, like Yahoo, entered the fray. But there’s no way that Facebook Corporate Development didn’t do a Google search for Josh Miller’s name in their due diligence. No way.
For what it’s worth, Miller, not so far from the crucial teenage demographic himself, is on to something in his critiques. Facebook does need Air Jordans, discrete non-branded apps that further the scope of its monolithic product.
Facebook’s social graph becomes less and less valuable in a mobile world when all of your friends are already in your phone. Miller also holds in his writings that the next Facebook will bring way more than friends together, eventually connecting the over 2.5 billion strangers with internet access.
Snapchat, Miller’s teen tech trend darling, took full advantage of the access to users’ address books allowed by iOS and Android, essentially proving it didn’t need Facebook to be popular. This, like in dating, only made Facebook want it even more. Snapchat negged Facebook so hard Zuckerberg cloned it and then tried to buy it for billions when that didn’t work out.
“Welcome, Facebook. Seriously,” CEO Evan Spiegel responded at the time.
Snapchat may be the only app that Facebook will try to clone twice.
But contacts portability means that it’s just as easy to leave Snapchat as it is to leave Facebook. And those fickle teen trends may one day anoint Whisper, which we’re hearing is trying to raise a Series B, or Tinder next in line to the throne. “The next Instagram.” “The next Snapchat.” The next target in Zuckerberg’s crosshairs. The next app to not need Facebook.
And though it very clearly wasn’t the new next thing, Branch was a solid acqui-hire. These days the deadpool runs deep, and not every startup team gets acquired, but it’s especially rare when all nine team members are under 25. Josh Miller was exceptional because he, a Princeton sociology dropout, deeply understood the confluence of social and mobile. And wasn’t afraid to be vocal about it. Even at the risk of offending potential acquirers.
Sell them what they want. Even if you don’t have it.
Disclosure: I own FB stock and my significant other works for General Catalyst, a VC investor in Snapchat.
View original post here: How To Successfully “Neg” Facebook
A few years back, the Labs group of The Washington Post Co. debuted Trove, a personalized, social news site and aggregator that relied heavily on Facebook for curation. But of course, the company’s flagship newspaper WaPo was sold to Jeff Bezos last year, and the Labs group was absorbed into the new Washington Post Co., which is now Graham Holdings. Today, Graham Holdings is relaunching Trove as a standalone social news reader, which combines existing parts of the original Trove app and WaPo Labs’ Social Reader app to create a new social news-reading experience.
Trove, which is launching iPhone and iPad apps, as well as a mobile site today, is based on the same premise as Flipboard and others in the space: The Internet is overflowing with news, and there needs to be a way to cut through all the noise. Facebook and Twitter can’t serve to cut through this noise, but the social and personal data these networks provide can help sift through what may be relevant to me and my interests.
Trove’s social news app is a combination between Flipboard and Pulse from LinkedIn. The app wants to bring you stories picked by people who share your interests. So once you enter the app, you can follow certain topics (which are called troves), and you’ll see a feed of news around these Troves. So if you picked news around “Fashion” and “Technology” and “Food,” Trove will accumulate the best articles from over 15,000 news sources to fit these areas. If you integrate your Twitter and Facebook accounts, Trove will suggest various “Troves” for you to follow based on your Facebook likes and topics you’ve tweeted about in your Twitter feed.
The stories in troves are also picked by curators who are passionate about a topic. So some troves by topic are curated by Trove’s algorithm, and there are some Troves that are created by users and curators. As Trove’s team explains, “algorithms are smart, but people are smarter. So on Trove, curator picks appear at the top.” For launch, the group has accumulated a group of curators including former Bravo Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent at The Washington Post, on “Afghan War” and Vivek Wadhwa, journalist and tech entrepreneur, on “Advancing Technologies.”
To create a Trove, you can name your curation (i.e. Fashion Week), add a description (i.e. Stories from Fashion Week in Paris), and add additional Troves to your curation.
At the heart of Trove is the idea that you are curating your news through the eyes of various people you trust, as well as through your own interests. Within each Trove you can pick stories, which is similar to Liking a story. The story will rise higher within the Trove based on more picks. You can also comment, tweet or post stories to Facebook from Trove. Additionally, the Trove editorial team will feature certain curated Troves.
“Trove is about reducing the amount of work you need to do to find stories,” explains Trove’s team. “We think this is introducing a different way to find and discover quality news.”
Trove’s creators are correct in wanting to help users cut through the noise of news, and use their social data, and personal interests to help do this. But I suspect Trove will have a tough time differentiating itself from the giant in the space, Flipboard. Armed with new funding, Flipboard is growing impressively and now has more than 100 million users. Not only is Flipboard tackling personalized news, but CNN-owned Zite and Prismatic are also formidable competitors.
Read the rest here: After WaPo Sale, Graham Holdings Relaunches Its Flipboard Competitor Trove
“There’s a lot of glorification of startups and being a founder. People brush the failures under the rug, but that’s the worst thing you can do. You kind of have to face it head on” says moot aka Christopher Poole. So rather than raise more money for his remix artist community Canvas and game DrawQuest, later today he’ll announce they’re closing. “No soft-landing, no aquihire, just ‘shutting down’ shutting down.”[Update: DrawQuest and Canvas have now published blog posts confirming this article and telling their users what's going on. Moot has also penned his own eulogy for his startup, and will be writing more in the future in hopes of educating other entrepreneurs.
In a touching part of his post-mortem, moot opens up saying "Few in business will know the pain of what it means to fail as a venture-backed CEO. Not only do you fail your employees, your customers, and yourself, but you also fail your investors—partners who helped you bring your idea to life."]
What’s different about this trip to the deadpool is that DrawQuest was actually doing relatively well. Launched a year ago to inspire people to take on daily bouts of creativity through drawing challenges, it reached 1.4 million downloads, 550,000 registered users, 400,000 monthly users, 25,000 daily users, and 8 million drawings.
“We’re doing better than 98% of products out there, especially in the mobile space.” says moot, but he admits that traction is ”Shy of that all important million (monthly users). Where we failed basically was one: to crack our growth engine. But importantly, we were never able to crack the business side of things in time.”
Perhaps if DrawQuest was the plan all along, it could have survived long enough to grow and monetize, but it was on a short fuse. Moot originally raised a $625,000 seed round led by Lerer Ventures in May 2010 to start DrawQuest’s predecesor Canvas, a media-centric forum where people could post, remix, and discuss visual Internet art. Then he raised $3 million more in June 2011 in a Series A led by Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and joined by SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective, and Joshua Schachter.
It wasn’t until February 2013 that DrawQuest launched, and that tardy pivot left moot lagging far behind where he needed to be. “We built this app with less than half of our runway remaining. You have to do twice as much with half as much time. It’s really freaking hard.” For seed stage companies it might be easier, but proving you’re worth the valuation of a Series B upround requires incredible metrics that are tough to reach if you have audible late in the game. ”People trivialize pivoting but it’s truly a hail mary, and it’s rare that people can pull this off.”
DrawQuest got some traction, but found that selling paint brushes in a drawing app is a lot harder than selling extra lives in Candy Crush. There’s just not the same emotional ‘I can’t play if I don’t pay’ urgency. “I definitely have a new appreciation for game designers” moot tells me.
With Canvas/DrawQuest’s headcount incurring serious costs, moot searched for someone to acquire his startup. “We approached a few companies and no one was buying what we were selling. [We were] never trying to win any awards with our brushstroke algorithms, so from an IP standpoint [there wasn't much to buy]. The nut that was interesting was the community, but it wasn’t really clear what exactly this community would do for their business.”
After running “Wild West of the Internet” image sharing site 4chan since 2003, moot was actually looking forward to not being the head honcho for once. “I thought we were doing great work and we could continue to do great work as part of a bigger organization. I had kind of psyched myself up for that, but then…” no deal materialized.
“Ultimately we decided we wouldn’t go try to raise more money – it wasn’t really on the table because we just hadn’t created enough value” says moot. So today he’ll announce that Canvas is shutting down in the next few days, and users will get an email with a link to download all their content.
As for DrawQuest, moot says “I’m going ot try to keep the servers up as long as I can. As of today all of the company’s employees are going their separate ways…but I’m hoping that between in-app purchases and whatever money is in the bank we’d be able to keep the service alive for a bit longer. We think it makes sense to pay our AWS bill until we’re completely out of money which will hopefully be a few months.” Perhaps even longer as moot dreams that maybe “some white knight comes in and says ‘I want to chip for the server costs’.”
In DrawQuest’s goodbye post, moot writes “We hope you’ll all continue to spread the importance of daily creativity, and inspire those around you to draw more often. While DrawQuest may not be around next year, you all will be, and we hope you’ll leave the world a better, more creative place.”
And ss for moot himself?:
“I’m a free agent for the first time in over 4 years because I was in college when I dropped out to start this comapny. I’m definitely not trying to start another company anytime soon. I need to decompress and refelect on what I’ve learned and take some time to myself because it’s been a bit of an emotional rollecoaster. You start to appreciate why the best investors are the best investors. In our final hour everyone was so supportive. It’s made the difference between me being an emotional wreck and me being in as good of a place emotionally as you can be when you fail.
Most companies fail, and unfortunately we are one of those companies. Those are the odds.”
See the rest here: With Traction But Out Of Cash, 4chan Founder Kills Off Canvas/DrawQuest