1. David Meerman Scott 4th Edition, 2013
This has become a bit of a classic, and has gone through multiple editions. However it is still written in a very readable and accessible way. He blogs as well, and this actually helps the make the style of the book very readable. You can tell he has put his opinions out there, and received feedback and discussion and them. Consequently the book reads better for it. It has also evolved over time, particularly because in the 3rd edition he speaks about not using LinkedIn. However if you look him up now on LinkedIn it’s clear he has embraced the network with over 500 LinkedIn connections. Recognising the value of promoting your brand across a number of key social media channels.
Twitter handle : @dmscott
You can also sign up for an email newsletter, which has had some good links to interesting items.
2. Going Social, Jeremy Goldman, 2012
The case studies start to become familiar after a few of these books, but this is a good read, well written. Making the case well for why it’s strategic for companies to engage with social media outlets, rather than attempt to silence or hush up negative news. This does require more work for companies, but it does offer the opportunity for those with the best customer engagement to do better than those that do not.
@jeremarketer [tough on the eye home page ]
3. Socialnomics, Erik Qualman, 2nd edition, 2013
This is great, and also more relevant because it has been updated too. Social media strategies is a rapidly evolving area, so a second edition helps to keep the book more relevant. He has tried to slightly future proof the content, by focusing on strategies, and then ensuring that the case studies are not too dated. It is well written, and a good read, though perhaps the content relating to Obama’s 2008 election campaign has now become a little passe. Sure it worked to beat McCain, but 6 years on, the same strategies might not be so effective, and the impact of the topic is weakened by Obama’s subsequent mixed record while in office.
4. Velocity, The seven new laws for a world gone digital, Ajaz Ahmed & Stephen Olander, 2012
A book as a conversation between two ‘dudes’. It’s a quick read, nominally 250 pages, several of the pages, are single line requotes of lines from the text that you have already read, or are just about to read. Sure we all like turning the pages a little quicker. Maybe they ran out of things to say, and maybe it should have just been a shorter book. That said, they both know there stuff, and it still had interesting ideas. Nike aims to not just keep up with it’s competitors, but to push the boat out, and aim to be different, and ‘go long’ and go hard. Better to over reach, and recover if needed, rather than be too conservative and make little to no impression. This makes sense when you have to compete with Red Bull and other products and brands, where, if your content isn’t interesting, it won’t be passed around social network channels. I found it useful, and hey, as I said, it will do you for a short break flight!
It’s a little hard to find a twitter or website reference for either the authors or the book, which does support the feeling of it being a little tossed off by two friends shooting the breeze a little bit, though after a bit of digging I did find them.
@Ajaz Ajaz Ahmed
@soland Stefan Oland
5. Understanding Digital Marketing, Second edition,Damian Ryan, Calvin Jones, 2012
Also an updated version, and similarly it makes sense, as so much has changed so quickly. This makes a good contrast to the David Meerman Scott and similar books, in that while they are very good, the US market is never exactly the same as the European one, particularly the UK and Ireland. Whereas this book is written by some one based in Chiswick, London (! nice place, just shame it’s so expensive to still live there) and West Cork (beautiful, but remote). This helps to make the examples and analysis much more relevant to our Dublin-centric view of things. It’s also written well, and as with the other books too, it helps that the ideas were honed over a series of evolving articles, helping them to view and reconsider what they had written.
6. SEO made easy, Evan Bailyn, 2014
Does what it says on the tin. It’s well written, about treading that line between not using black hat SEO tactics, which will get you down rated by the google search algorithms, and yet still gaming the system within the boundaries given. Overall, the aim of the ever evolving google algorithms is to move towards reward those sites with the best, most relevant, most recent content, and the best links to the most reputable other sites. However, as every one is, or should, be trying to do this, this book does help to try and enable readers to optimise their own performance within this battle field. Good read, and not too long to get through either.
7. Purple Cow, Free prize inside, All Marketers Are Liars, all Seth Godin, 2003, 2004, 2005
This is just a selection of Seth Godin books you could be reading. He is pretty prolific, most of them are pretty good, they are all pretty quick reads, and make for some light reading after some of the previous, great, but slightly denser books, These 3 are some of his better ones, they have a clear idea to get across, and do it well and entertainingly.
He also posts almost daily from his blog website too.
Dublin Growth Hackers is a relatively new group that has come together. It must be, because last night at the Sugar Club was the second event, as far as I know.
Disclaimer, these are the observations and impressions and a newbie, so apologies if anything is slightly inaccurate.
Like all good ideas, it seems to have been prompted by one person, Paddy Cosgrove (@paddycosgrove), giving another one a nudge, Jason Roe (@jasonroe) to do something about an idea he had been talking about for a while. You get the impression the conversation happened along the lines of,
‘don’t just talk about it, do it!,
sure if you build it no one might come,
but, it’s about growth hacking, so hack it,
use all the social media networks we have and throw it out there,
what’s the worst that will happen?
We’ll have a pile of uneaten canapes! ‘
And thus it came to be, and will hopefully continue to do so.
Jason Roe MC’d the event. He intro-ed, or out-troed all of the speakers, and reminded us of how many interesting things there are happening in Dublin already, allied with the megabeast that is the Dublin Summit (which seems like an awesome event, sigh, maybe one day…). He said there were already 130 people there, and more came in as he was speaking. This seemed like a pretty good turnout, for something that will hopefully become a monthly event.
We were at the Sugar Club, which, in the semi dark at least, looked cool and trendy. Charming waitresses walked around with trays of tasty canapes, which helped to give a tapas style feel to proceedings. Of course the bottom line though was the content, not the location.There were three speakers.
First up, was Marcus Segal, ex COO of Zynga @marcussegal
Apologies for using a google image, though it is the one he used, next time I’ll bring a camera.
Marcus took the mike with ease and rolled. He is now the entrepreneur in residence for the Dublin Web Summit, roving around European cities, meeting other start ups, and, I think, helping them, and promoting the websummit. He spoke about his early days, entertainingly describing one whole 5 year period from 2003 – 2008 with a long yawn.
Zynga was where things really kicked off. Mafia Wars beginning the period of massive growth on gaming within Facebook. In some ways there seemed to be a parallel idea of doing something different, and then if it works, doing it again and again. He described how the idea of gaming within the facebook domain was not an obvious opportunity to everyone, but at the same time the social features presented a massive opportunity.
In some ways, consciously or otherwise, they had tapped into our two fundamental powerful, and conflicting human traits, cooperation / socialising and competition. At times we can do wonderful things to help our fellow humans, and at other times, we want to be better than our peers.
Mafia Wars, and the 5 odd other reworkings of the same concept followed this idea, including Pirate Wars, Prison Wars, Creche Wars (it didn’t quite get to that but you get the idea). We want to get out there and kill the opposition, but at the same time, the more friends we have at our side, the longer we get to stay alive in the game.
So far, so well known. He asked the room how many people had played Mafia Wars or one of it’s variants. Half the room put up their hands, and he said the rest of us were liars! This was funny, I almost felt bad I had never played it. From this he explained they looked at what worked, and took these competitive and cooperative elements into developing FarmVille.
So you know all about this, but in tonight’s context it was looking at what was growth hacked. Here they seemed to follow the principal of, if it worked, do it again and again, and again. He mentioned the lost groovy cow, and how, if it worked in one game, then literally the same concept was used in every other variant of the game they developed.
Marcus was both laughing at this, taking the piss, and also pointing out that with 300 million d.a.u (new acronym for me, daily average users), it made money for them and the company.
Listening to Marcus and the following two speakers, I was constantly trying to work out what was ‘growth hacking’ and what was just smart monetisation and smart marketing. I think this might be an unnecessary question. You look around, take what works, try it out, if it works keep at it till it stops working, and then do something else.
Next was Niall Harbison @NiallHarbison
Known for several things, but here to talk about his current spin off, Lovin’ Dublin.
It was interesting to hear how the blog was trundling along, in his words, with 15 posts in 2011, and 20 in 2012, before upping the pace in 2013, and starting to go through the roof in terms of social media shares across facebook, instagram, and the wider social media environment.
Niall was entertaining to listen to, and it was interesting as he described how he wasn’t completely sure how and why the site had taken off. That said, he was predisposed to take advantage of the opportunity when it came his way. He recognised the value of using strong visuals to promote the posts, and encourage the likelihood of them to be shared.
The Lovin’ Box was their latest venture to roll out a viable business for both them and the restaurants they paired up with. In the Q & A Niall further outlined how his idea had evolved from a series of similar but all slightly different box delivery concepts that he had come across around the world. In this way, while offering no specific ‘growth hacker tools’, you get the feeling that growth hacking could be a mindset. Look around, see what works, adapt to your own area and opportunities, if it gets traction go with it.
Next up was Kieran Flanagan @searchbrat
“Highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack”.
If Niall Harbison was the minimal google analytics user, then Kieran was the uber user.
Hub spot’s EMEA Marketing Director, he followed the idea of everything of value being measurable.
Kieran’s appearance really rounded out the choice of speakers for the night, as it ensured we had a great cross section of perspectives. He mentioned a lot of great ideas, and resources to use to ensure you optimise for success, including, but not only social crawlytics. https://socialcrawlytics.com/
Kieran had a bit of a nightmare with his slide show presentation, somehow his zapper got possessed, and rapidly zoomed too far forward and backwards. However being super efficient he had already put the slides up on slide share.
To do real justice to all of his content I suggest going through them yourself too.
Once the three speakers were done, there were more canapes, and the opportunity to mingle, network and ask questions.
I think the event was really useful, and will share once a date is set for the next one in May sometime.
I was lucky enough to get an invite to DCU School of Business for a talk.
I knew it was something to do with analytics, which I figured could only be useful as we are currently trying to work out if you can run google analytics on a wordpress site. Now that is a whole other story, with a whole load of blogs, many wordpress ones including, offering really useful information on the pro’s and cons of using wordpress.com or wordpress.org sites. I guess that’s another days blog.
Alistair said he was tired, because he had just come in on the flight from Canada. Which is of course slightly cool too, that they got him over. It seems like if you offer these type of speakers the chance to come over, they often have an Irish relative, somewhere, even if it’s only an Irish Setter.
As he began he paid a quick spin through the principles of Erik Ries and the Lean Start Up concept, I realised how closely they were related. This was going to be a talk about the data that helps to underpin the whole Lean Start Up idea. Get feedback quickly, see what the customer wants, not what you want to build.
Don’t build it, and hope (mutter repeatedly to self) “they will come”, dammit!
As Steve Blanc repeatedly says, get out of the building, talk to people, validate your idea.
[You can do a version of his course for free on udacity]
Alistair continued in the same vein, it is virtually free to test your concept now. I’m not sure if he was exaggerating, but he said he told one company that the coders were to hold off coding for a month. Instead they were told to get out there and validate their idea first. See if anyone was actually interested in your idea.
With google now it is possible to quickly survey trends. Survey monkey is really helpful too, you can quickly develop an idea, and get 20 – 30 friends, family, whoever, to fill it in, and already, inevitably, you will get unexpected responses.
No data no learning
You can use analytics to understand how people fill in online forms. Where do they make mistakes, struggle, repeatedly go back. If it keeps happening at the same points, you have an opportunity to identify where are the bumps in your process. Which may discourage people who had been potential customers.
A lot of what Alistair covered was common sense, but it doesn’t mean that many people are actually doing it, and using this opportunity to learn and better understand what is, and is not, working for them.
This sort of easily gathered data is then invaluable for startups. He then listed all the great start ups that began making one thing and then realised they had actually solved a different problem, for a different potential customer. Successful companies then pivot, or change direction to respond to this new, interested market. While failed business keep trying to convince customers to buy a product that does not offer something they really want or need.
At this point too, I realise that people don’t want their blog posts to be too long.
So I will draw a line at this point, see what the level of interest is, digest what I learnedtoday, and then write a second post, containing more of the links to all the great resources he mentioned. It also makes sense to check out his own blog too.
To conclude part 1, it was a really interesting session and I think I still want to read the book.
Being there was a really useful insight into the importance of working out what is you want to measure, and think about what you will learn by measuring it, and what changes you will then make, as a result of analysing those results.