Sometimes your friends really do know you better than you know yourself. tosSocial helps give your friends a fun and unique way to describe how they see or feel about you. It seems like many of these online social networks have forgotten to incorporate the “social” aspect into their service….
wouterveenstra: Community Manager at Tripl.com
Useful tools for managing (and growing) communities
Don’t worry, I will not tell you that Facebook and Twitter are the tools for you to manage your online communities and presence, I would be at least 5 years too late with that message. Although both these platforms are invaluable in my day-to-day activities I would share some insights on a few tools that I have used managing Tripl’s community which tie all platforms well together and let you interact in very effective way, services you most likely wouldn’t think about in the first place.
Intercom: I started using this great service when I joined the team at Tripl in the beginning of the year and it has been key in all of my achievements with focus groups and interacting with are most influential users. It lets you instantly see who started using your service, and shows to what online accounts the user’s email address is connected. With one click you see your new user’s Twitter and Linkedin account. I have made it a goal to welcome as much new users personally on Twitter, and will of course focus more on the people with a larger following. People love the personal comment and will most likely tell about it or even re-tweet it. Another valuable feature of Intercom is the filter which let you see how many sessions users have had on your service. This way I came to select 150 power users who have been in our Focus Group for the past months. Together we have talked a lot on how to improve our service, and it did.
Retronator: This social network clock perfectly tells you what a good time is to be active on different social platforms. Never take different target groups for granted, just like their behavior on different platforms.
IFTTT: Some things look so simple but are so powerful, IFTTT is one of those services. It stands for ‘If This Than That’ and let’s you determine triggers for different actions. This way you can for example have all your Instagram photos automatically uploaded to your dropbox, or share automated status updates when you receive an SMS. Have a look at their site and see which triggers might be handy for your community.
Storify: This startup lets you find the most relevant content to your story and then let all the people who’s public data you have used help you spread the word. I have once written a blogpost using Storify about an assignment we did on the Greek islands for a big event promotor. Using Storify we used tweets of satisfied party people, videos of organizations and much more data to give our story an extra dimension. When publishing this post we automatically pinged everyone who’s content we had used and saw that these people and companies started re-tweeting our story. People like it when you write about them, include companies with a large following which would be interested in what you are offering as well and see for yourself.
Startup Sticker Setups
Growing up I used to love putting stickers all over my snowboard. Here is a picture of Torstein Horgmo (Scandinavian rider) representing some of his sponsors.
It seems the sticker craze has moved to the world of tech as well. Here is a picture of my laptop. A bunch of Dreamit companies on there as well as some of the NYC startups I support and use.
We’d love to see the stickers you are sporting on your laptop! Please add them in our comments section using the feature below! We will post the best ones on our Facebook Fan page!
Facebook is the only social service not dropping the ball on users’ current location
This post was written by Tripl’s CEO Peter Sullivan. Tripl is a social service that allows you to discover where all your friends are traveling through stories created by the geo content they are sharing on their social networks like Foursquare, Instagram, and Facebook. Find our new iOS app here.
I will say it….we are location whores over at Tripl. Geo tags are the life line of our service and therefore we know the ins and outs of nearly every social platform API’s and the way they handle location. Over the last few months we have seen that the rise of the smart has lead to more content creation. This content creation is creating tons of noise in the social networks, but behind all that noise are millions and millions of geo tags. For the first time ever, all of these platforms are now serving the geo tags of the content being produced through their APIs’. That being said, all these services are still dropping the ball on maybe the most critical geo reference, the users Current Location. Well all except for Facebook at least!
Users’ current location is a great way to gather proper metrics, segment advertisement, and A/B test on different regions, however most of these services aren’t connecting the user’s location to an object or indexing it with structure. Its something that sounds so simple but isn’t being done. Instead, most of these services are using “free text” fields to capture a user’s current city location and then passing that text string through the API. This makes it very difficult to parse the location to get a proper geo latitude and longitude which should now be the standard for indexing location. It makes it even more difficult for developers to build compelling services off their APIs because properly indexing users’ locations can be critical. For Tripl, we need to know the current location of all the users’ friends in order to determine when they are traveling through the geo tagged content they share.
I’ll take a dive into what Facebook does right, and then demonstrate what the other services are doing wrong. When a user selects their current location and their hometown in the user’s profile setting, they are greeted with a drop down menu that contains city listings.
The best part is that each of these locations is linked specifically to a single object. If you were to visit the object, they have their own page with a ton of additional information. The public object pages look like this:
When you pull that object through the API, you get a ton of great information including Wikipedia text, along with images and most importantly GEO TAGS!
Facebook is really doing a great job about this and is making these objects as part of passive location tagging as well. If you have ever checked your newsfeed and saw that within a status update the text “near New York”, well that has an object attached to it. That object currently isn’t being passed through the API but I think in due time it will be given Facebook a huge advantage over other services in indexing location better. They currently do serve that object if the user actively attaches the city to their status. On a sour note, we have analyzed 15 million connected friends through Tripl and we are finding only 60% of users have actually selected a current city :(
Now lets look at the other services and see how they look. Both Foursquare and Twitter are using free text fields to record the users location. Foursquare is in the business of location, so I am really shocked how they are not indexing these better. One of the best parts of the new app’s explore feature is the ability to dive down into specific neighborhoods which must be indexed properly. They need to start doing the same with users’ city locations. As you can see in Twitter’s and Foursquare’s field, I can address Brooklyn as BK, or The Brook, or BRKLYN, or NYC. There is no way to determine a standardized location and remember this string is whats being served to developers through the API.
Finally I will take a look at G+. They are halfway there. What Google does well for themselves is index the location to a map, although I think a drop down menue would make this a lot easier. They actually do a Google map search to locate the free text that a user has added.
What G+ is doing wrong is the way they are serving this to their developers through the API. Rather than providing the longitude and latitude (which is obvious that they have) they are serving a string of the location name. Granted, it does have some structure so less parsing is needed to start indexing it developers’ databases.
I am very very bullish on the Facebook location team. First the first time ever I am seeing Mom’s geo tag their Facebook statuses which is proof that geo is now becoming mainstream.
Vote and help us win our new intro video..!
During the spring we, like one might expect from a startup, an entire team of interns who temporarily joined our team. Two very talented Motion Graphic Designers have spend a lot of time in directing and creating a beautiful introduction video.
Unfortunately we have slightly changed course and focus over the months that followed. This means that the video is no longer relavant and that we are in need of a new video. Fortunately the guys at Vooza created a campaign together with Switch Video in which they are giving away an amazing price …. a brand new professional introduction video!
How do we win? We simply need to gather the most likes and tweets by next Wednesday. So id you want to help, and we sure hope you do, please follow this link and cast your vote by a simple ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ …. both works fine as well ;-)!’
Thanks in advance.
City Trip Inspiration
The world is getting smaller and smaller, and the competitive traveling industry makes it therefor more affordable to visit different places. All of us here have seen many amazing destinations in the world, both with the team and as individuals.
We thought it would therefor be a good idea to provide our followers with a weekly dosis of city trip inspiration. We are not going to write essays or guided tours for you, we are just providing you with a picture which in our eyes really sums up what this place is all about.
For us Stockholm is of course an obvious choice. Although I am pretty sure that this journalist got his martini in one of Stockholms expensive hotels I thought it was an interesting read that provides a good impression how visitors see Stockholm.
Feel free to provide us with tips which we can share with our followers again.
How much is attending conferences worth?
It has been quiet an exciting time ever since we started our first iteration in February this year. We have been covered in global press, got selected into one of the most prestigious tech accelerators, moved our office to NY, launched a brand new service (both on the web and iOS) and connected with the leaders in technology to just name a few. Apart from that we have been attending many conferences, of which TheNextWeb Conference and Techcrunch Disrupt are the biggest names.
Conferences are expensive, far away, the outcomes are hard to predict and often you can follow everything live through a stream online.
Is it therefor really worth your time, and money, to attend these events? I am sure many people will feel like a couple of thousands of dollars is slightly over-prized for 3 days of partying and collecting swag with fellow tech entrepreneurs.
This May we attended Techcrunch Disrupt in NY, an event which traditionally is recognized as one of the most important anual tech events. As a co-sponsor our investors had the possibility to let us have a table for the entire three day event, right next to the entrance to the main speaker room. Convinced that this was a golden spot we started out by addressing everybody who was passing by. Even though the response from the people we actually spoke with was good we came to find out that there weren’t many people interested in a chat. There weren’t actually so many people moving around at all.
Techcrunch Disrupt was packed with vendors, and therefor the amount of attendees was limited. Vendors felt obliged to continue hosting their own table and therefor the event (in my eyes) was lacking the necessary amount of interaction. Without taking action this would influence the outcomes of this conference in a very bad way. So how do you make the best out of an event like this?
- First of all, depending on the available wifi, it allows you to get some work done.
- Second of all, if you are with more, it is a great opportunity to go and find out what else is happening in the industry. Wander around and start conversations with likeminded people.
- Attend relevant lectures and ask as much intelligent questions as possible while mentioning your company name clearly. As many people watch the live streams and the room is filled with journalists this is a great way to get their attention.
- Have open discussions with fellow vendors in order to find partnerships or introductions.
- Try to, somehow, get your hands on the attendee and press list of the event.
- Get feedback. Many of the people who are there know the industry and the problems you are facing, make them believe in your product and let them help you make it better. Many of the people we have met are still talking about us, these are valuable ambassadors of your brand.
But not every event is like this, for a conference organizer the hard task is to find a perfect mix between vendors, attendees, press and investors to attend the event. TheNextWeb Conference in Amsterdam earlier this year really succeeded in that. We have been able to do all of the above and apart from that demo our product to many attendees, talk with investors who came to our table and as an additional bonus the press knew where to find us.
Attending conferences is good for many reasons, it allows you to stay up to date, get your name out there and if you can present or have a table it’ll help your enormously with building credibility and exposure. However make sure that you have done your homework, know who is coming and who you want to meet, who you want to listen to and what you will do when not many people will come to see you. Connect with people through Twitter before going and follow closely what is going on during the event.
In the end the success is often determined by how engaged, curious and interesting the crowd is!
And of course, after a long day of work, a beer is always a good idea …. we sure enjoyed it!
Embrace feedback, positive … and negative
If you look at what the biggest social media missteps were in 2011 you will see that amongst the highest rankings you can find cases in which companies tried to erase negative mentions concerning their brand on different online platforms. This is very much in line with how most people think about negative feedback, it simple shouldn’t be there. When I speak with friends and other people who work in the same industry I often feel that they are convinced all feedback regarding their company should be positive, it indicates that they are doing things right. This is however not how we see it.
It might sound strange, but we are convinced that negative, or critical, feedback is of big importance and has a positive influence on brands and their products. Of course this doesn’t mean we would only want to receive negative messages from our users, that would in fact be very depressing and I hardly doubt that would benefit our user experience on the long term. But look at it from this perspective; what is there to improve, add or leave out if all the messages received praise your product? Exactly, nothing.
It is hard to look at it like that but a good way of looking at it is always from your own perspective. Let me ask you this: if you have a negative experience on a site, or app if you’d like, would you take the trouble to write feedback about that? And if you do, I want you to think back and remember the situations in which you did. It is not very likely that you took the time and liberty to write feedback on all the negative experiences you have had online over the past few years, that could be a part-time job. People tend to take the time to comment when they care, meaning that if people have negative feedback on what you are providing and take the time to let you know there must be something they like about what you are doing and they want you to work on that.
At Tripl we have really embraced all of the feedback we have received over the past months and treated positive and negative comments with the exact same care. My professor always used to tell us “a complaint is an opportunity”. He meant that if you could turn peoples negative experiences into a positive experiences the impact would be much higher, being the likelihood of your users talking about whatever it is you are providing in a positive way. Even higher than if people would have a positive experience from the start. You exceed someone’s expectations.
There is no such thing as a ‘perfect startup’ there is always work to be done and things to improve, a company who acknowledges that and tries to get its users involved in the product development only shows that it is run by human beings and cares about user satisfaction.
We sure hope we make you feel like your opinion matters. Keep mailing us as we hope to keep improving Tripl with your help.
Goodbye NYC, we’ll be back soon!
It is 6.00 AM on London’s Heathrow Airport, and unlike one might expect during the Olympics the terminal in which I am waiting for my connecting flight is empty. I just came in from New York and am waiting to be connected to Amsterdam. Just like most of our team I am going to spend some time with my friends and family there before returning to the office in Sweden. I however doubt my family will actually notice that I am back as we have had limited sleep in the past few days.
I just realized that while crossing the Atlantic, though being surrounded by hundreds of fellow travelers, this was the first time that I was actually ‘alone’ in the last four months. In New York the biggest part of our team had been living together in an apartment conveniently located in the Upper West Side, and apart from sleeping there we have spend most of our time at the office … and in bars probably. A situation like this demands a lot from a team and I guess this situation is the ultimate test for any group which is being relocated for a certain amount of time. I am pretty sure many of my friends would confirm that they would never been able to spend so much time with their direct colleagues as we did over the course of the past 3 months. We have surely passed this test with a straight A.
As mentioned earlier our last 48 hours in NYC have been intense, with a great presentation at the New York Tech Meetup and the Dreamit Ventures’ Demo Day, which marks the end of this summers’ accelerator program, we have left the city in style and are looking forward to all that is coming next. We have learned a great deal about ourselves, the market that we are trying to disrupt and the industry we are working in over the course of the last moths. Apart from that we have tried to do as much as possible with the feedback that we have received. These two factors combined have made the app as we know it today. As we as a team already know a bit more about the future of Tripl than you do I can tell you this…. it will exciting, very exciting.
PS: We are back to being a bi-continental company and are now up for coffees in Stockholm again ;-). Looking forward to catch up with everyone here very soon.
Demo Day, all of a sudden it’s there!
For the past 3 months we have been locked up in the Dreamit Ventures offices in Midtown Manhattan, a place where 15 companies have been working on great things in order to get a serious round of funding.
Demo Day marks the end of our 3 month stay in this year’s Dreamit Ventures Accelerator Program. This is the day on which we, along with all the other involved companies, will be exposed to an auditorium packed with 200+ investors looking for the next big thing.
Ever since 3 weeks ago we saw the tension build up with all the other companies around us and to be honest, we are feeling it as well. Having spend 7 months in crunch time makes us however more than ready. We have presented on the biggest tech conferences, attended the best tech meetups, been featured by the biggest tech blogs globally and have met with the leaders in tech development in New York… but most of all we have built amazing products with an amazing team.
So, when are you ready to be exposed to this many investors? This is probably a question which would take me more than just 30 minutes to answer in full detail, and every entrepreneur probably has a different take on what elements should be in place before talking to investors. There are however a few elements which weigh heavy for many investors.
1. Your product or service clearly needs to solve a problem. Know how to communicate why people will use your product. Do you save them time, or money maybe?
2. Make sure that you have had traction, customers or users. If you have been able to build something which has been used by real life consumers you have a prove of concept. I am pretty sure I don’t have to explain why this is important for potential investors. VC’s love to see that entrepreneurs have the believe in their product and build things out of their own savings if they haven’t have received any funding before.
3. A working demo, this ties in with the previous element. But even if you have build something which is not tested on the market before it is important that you show your potential investors a working (bug free) demo of it.
4. Data is important, for more than one reason. Investors expect you to know your companies numbers by heart. Traffic data, costs, ROI, marketing. Other than that we have pointed out earlier in our blog how important it is to gather unique and enticing data nobody else can gather.
5. Your team. In this era’s competitive market it weighs very heavy if you can work with an experienced team. Know your team and how to sell their experience and skill sets.
6. A vision. As much as your potential investor are interested in your past and what you have accomplished so far.. he or she is investing in your future. Therefor it is important to have a waterproof plan in place on how your product will develop and expand, how you are going to grow your team and all the other things you intend to do with the money you are asking for.
I hope these few pointers help you if you are thinking about getting your ideas funded. We have been through a round before and if you feel like we could help you get ready feel free to drop us a line.
Welcome to The ACE Hotel in NYC!
For the past 3 months we have been working out of the Dreamit Ventures offices in Midtown New York, an organized chaos which perfectly shows the priority of all the companies involved in this year’s class. It literally screams “who cares about where you build, care about what you build!” And we love that, this place really embodies the true nature of the tech startup industry.
Nevertheless I need to get myself out of the day to day routines at Dreamit every once in a while and get my shot of fresh energy at different places, good thing there are plenty of those in NYC.
It has been a while since I last was here but as I had been visiting my community colleagues at Tumblr, who are located right around the corner, I decided to spend some time in the lobby of the ACE Hotel again. Last time I was here me and Pete had been searching the place for two available seats after lunch; Mission Impossible 5!
We have been following this place ever since they first opened in 2010 and knew that this place would become the hotspot it currently is in no-time. For good reason, the trendy yet stylish decor in the lobby now houses young and starting entrepreneurs around the clock. Catered by live music, a raw oyster bar, curated DJ-sets and the in-house Stumptown coffee people here use every available spot they can possibly find to sit on as a place to have their meetings, throw around ideas and to get inspired. Since much has been happening in the past few months I almost forgot about how energetic this place is and was stoked to be back.
Unlike many other cities that I have visited and worked from, I have never experienced this much support and cooperation from likeminded people around me. This is one of the core reasons why places like the ACE Hotel lobby are so popular in this city, and very valuable to companies (like Tripl) who are building a product and are always after feedback. I naturally feels like you have a handful of consultants at your disposal.. for free! New York has a great tech community and mayor Bloomberg has done a great job in letting the local tech community flourish. He is a personal fan of places like this and therefor I will try to find as many of these places as possible before flying out to Europe again.
Get here early if you can though, because a good spot in the lobby of the ACE Hotel is considered a valuable piece of real estate these days. Even if you are not an early bird (almost nobody is in the tech community) it is worth it, the energy which you’ll get will keep you going guaranteed …. that and the coffee of course. I am surely coming back here in the next few days to get inspired and meet likeminded people.
What creates a good work environment for you? If you know a place similar to the ACE hotel in NYC we would love to hear about it.
Product update: what’s new on Tripl?
Ever since we relaunched Tripl a few weeks ago we have been flooded by positive responses and feedback. All of your comments have been gathered, labelled, categorized, prioritized and finally discussed in one of our product meetings with the team. Truth be told, not all feedback was realistically possible but in the end close to 100% of the messages we have received were very important and helpful to us. Whether it was a feature or functionality we had completely overlooked or the confirmation we got when we saw that the features you were requesting were already in development.
So what’s new:
1. For starters we have plugged Instagram into Tripl, meaning that you by now can discover more trips through your Instagram account.. trips which will be very rich in imagery ;-)! Our development team has worked day and night to make this complicated feature work and the results are awesome. Go to your settings page and simply connect your Instagram account, we’ll do the magic for you!
2. We are now letting you now exactly know when we last updated your friends’ data from Facebook, Foursquare and the recently added Instagram. We are making it our goal to always keep you ‘up-to-date’.
3. I never realized how many of my friends were actually away from home, did you? Therefor we decided to let you know first thing when landing on your travel log how many of your friends we have found traveling the globe in the past month. Oh … and you can share it with your (traveling) friends as well ;-)!
Keep your suggestions coming and in the meanwhile we will continue to work on making Tripl an even better experience one step at the time. When we release new features or change current features you will be the first to know!