Case Study Urban Times (UT)
is a UK based startup operating out of London. They have recently closed a round of Series A funding to help scale their publishing platform. With 15K Facebook fans, 25K Twitter fans and over 1 million unique page views a month they are refining their market strategy for growth following a recent rebranding. UT bring positive and topical news stories into the mainstream to counter the overwhelming negativity of the mass media. Are you in? Initially built to bring ethical bloggers together, Urban Times was founded by former urban planner Charlie Hilton and entrepreneur Alexander Phillips. The original motto? F*ck the News.
Hack 1 Reclaim Twitter Real
Estate Use FollowerWonk to extract data and insight from your Twitter account including competitor analysis. Automate BuzzFork to favourite tweets with keywords generating reciprocity. Automate, so that all Urban Times tweets have a blank second line and blank fourth line to ensure maximum Twitter space. Insight Schedule 3 x 15 minute windows during each working day to purely respond to and engage with Twitter followers. Chair online debates. 1
Hack 2 Utilise viral channels.
Hacker News is often referred to as the Reddit of technology. Ensure that relevant and timely articles are shared across both Reddit and HN to generate maximum possible interest. Insight URL shorteners are banned on HN and Reddit. Ensure the full URL is being used. 2
Hack 3 Re-evaluate your customers.
Lean Startup advocates small changes to the direction of an enterprise based on data driven analysis. Use Survey.io to evaluate your existing customer base and market positioning. Ideally, any product is seeking users to respond “I would be VERY disappointed if I could no longer use XX.” Data drives improvement. 3
Hack 4 Embrace infographics. Editorial
content at Urban Times often consists of infographics. As a content medium, infographics should be disseminated via a separate channel. Ensure all infographics are posted to the new Urban Times SlideShare. A good SlideShare submission can generate 10K+ views in a month with 1K+ shares across social media. 4
Hack 5 Remind journalists you
exist. Ensure that the staff of Urban Times are subscribed to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) HARO digests questions from journalists into 3 x emails per day. In response for quotes and insight journalists provide exposure in national, regional and niche publications. Furthermore, utilise the Tech Reporter Contact List at www.brownsteinegusa.com 5 Insight ^^ I took this photo of my daughter Darcey. It has nothing to do with reporters.
Hack 6 Hack blog comments
w/ IFTTT Using the web service If This Then That ensure industry wide exposure. Have each member of staff at UT identify 5 or 6 industry blogs that are widely read and relevant. Sign up to IFTTT and enable a recipe that alerts when any of those blogs are updated. Comment on the content with a direct link back to a timely and relevant Urban Times article. With 10 members of staff you are potentially looking at 60+ mentions a week so use intelligently. 6
Hack 7 . Super quick
Facebook wins. Set up a Facebook advertising campaign to derive insights from the platform. Do not publish the advert, simply record the market data. Make photos compliant. No more than 20% of the image can be obscured with text. Be aware that only 18-21% of a Facebook pages fans will ever see published content without paying Facebook to promote posts. Schedule posts to save time. Use Buffer across all platforms. 7
Hack 8 . Encourage involvement!
Ensure that all outgoing communications maintain a call to action. Encourage each user to commit to a response with every post. Best utilised for social media however CTA is criminally underused for email campaigns. People are passionate. Let them display their passion with calls to action and in turn generate further traction. Next time you post, ask yourself, what 8 Insight This is Venice. It’s awesome. Sometimes you need to unplug and remember there is a world outside, your customers are outside more than in so encourage word of mouth.
Hack 9 . Overhaul email!
Let’s talk spam. More importantly, let’s not be spam. In line with Hack 3: Revaluate Customers, ensure that email communications are included in customer development. Do they want one digest per week? Two? One digest and a personal curated list? Article alerts? However, when anyone hits the unsubscribe button offer them the chance to subscribe via Feedly instead instead of emails. 9
Hack 10 . Save me!
Damn, I just read an amazing article on Urban Times. It expanded my consciousness. I shared it with Facebook and tweeted it then added it to my bookmarks… Last time I checked I had over 400 bookmarks including Del.Ico.Ous. So how do I actually save knowledge? Offer users the ability to export to Evernote, Pocket and Instapaper in PDF format (branded with UT). Or, hack an IFTTT recipe to do it auto! 10 Insight Isn’t this beautiful?
Major Hack 1 Get offline.
Find groups that share the same ethos or values as Urban Times via www.meetup.com Contact group leaders and offer them incentives to share and contribute to the magazine. In time, organise physical meetups in London for writers, journalists, hackers and entrepreneurs. You are based in London. Leverage it. 1
Major Hack 2 Organise an
army for PR. Utilising www.fiverr.com, pay for a team of researchers (<$100) to produce a database of relevant journalists and bloggers who share the same ethos of Urban Times including first names. Craft a MailChimp/Mandrill targeted email campaign to highlight the Urban Times platform to each individual. Ask for bloggers to cross-post content to UT and journalists to cover the new startup that is disrupting the news using a personalised email. 2 Insight This a photo of me meeting the Woz. Smashing Magazine piggy backed this PR beautifully by encouraging users to tweet what they would ask the Woz face to face.
Major Hack 3 Automate growth.
Utilising the rock star CTO, develop an automated service that daisy-chains numerous API’s. 1. Leverage the sign-up email address, have Rapportive return the user Twitter account. 2. Scrape the Twitter account for popular accounts following the individual. Analyse with Klout. 3. Favourite tweets of those accounts and @reply to them with a UT link. 3 Insight Going one stage further, it is possible to return a Google search of the Twitter accounts, capture emails addresses and then send an introductory UT email informing them that a friend has just signed up for UT and they should to!
Major Hack 4 Forget Google.
Outbrain is a content delivery system that shows users additional content related to that which they are viewing. Commercial partners can pay, similar to adwords, to have their content displayed at the bottom of a premium publication, driving click-throughs to their platform. It amplifies your audience in a costeffective manner an ensures relevant interests are matched. www.outbrain.com 4 Insight My other daughter Holly. Why is this relevant? If you want to understand marketing always refer to kids. Holly is two. All that is relevant to her is Mickey Mouse or what Mickey Mouse suggests to her…
Major Hack 5 Produce an
eBook(s) Draw on the collective talents of your workforce to write an AH-MAZE-ING ebook. Additional minor publications include “How to write well for online platforms” “Challenges of Changing the News” etc. Leverage the super simple Gumroad sales platform to sell copies, offering free editions to anyone who publishes XX number Urban Times content. Sample chapters could be distributed through GoodReads and SlideShare. Each page contains embedded icons linking back to the UT website. 5 Insight Zappos produce the annual Culture Book to demonstrate to customers and stakeholders how the company operate. In addition it serves as a recruitment and sales channel by promoting the Zappos brand.
CONTACT Mavin Management is an
independent consultancy specialising in project management, lean startup and marketing. We strive to provide insight in order to affect your decision making process. In addition, we also host the not-for-profit TEDxCorby conference and mentor new entrants to the Lean Startup Machine. @mavin_man Steven Feeney Managing Director Project Management, Lean and Marketing email@example.com 24
BIO Steven Feeney firstname.lastname@example.org Steven
served 8 years in the British Army Intelligence Corps with operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Initially training in Electronic Warfare, he was rapidly promoted into Operational Intelligence, subsequently writing the Standard Operating Procedure for Human Terrain Analysis. Further tours in Counter Intelligence and Protective Security rounded off an excellent career before he transitioned into the Palo Alto intelligence firm Palantir. After achieving the coveted Capstone Trainer qualification he subsequently worked as a freelance intelligence consultant, specialising in PRINCE2 methodology. In July 2013 he won the Eric Ries inspired Lean Startup London conference and is a resident business and intelligence mentor for Evolve and Lean Startup Machine as well as a writer for Urban Times and Team Treehouse. He can be found evangelising new technology, security and intelligence techniques to the start up community in London. Connect with him at Twitter LinkedIn 17 - @steven_feeney - www.linkedin.com/feeneysteven
Ding Ding Ding! Bonus hack!
You made it to the end! You are the sort of person who stays to the end of the credits in movies theatres aren’t you? Just in case cause you never know… Well, like Vanilla Coke, your curiosity has been rewarded. Ask yourself, where is the Get Help button on your website. How quickly is help responding? Put it prominent and respond prompt. 27 Remember – prominent and prompt. Help your customers help you. A/B test that help button to death.