Tag Archives: community

10 ways to hire great guns for your start-up

Just like “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department”, for start-ups

Hiring is too important to be left to the HR department.

In the previous post I talked about ‘Who to hire for your start-up‘. Many of you agreed to most of what I shared so the next question that comes out is how to hire these guys. As @mohak put it brilliantly

Recruitment is marketing. If you can’t hire well, you can’t market well 

If like most others you are finding it incredibly hard to recruit your A team here are some obvious and not so obvious tips

HowSuccessfulStartupsHire-poster

      1. Be Involved: Unless you have someone really well in the team who can handle this for you, be involved in hiring. Another pro tip is not to hire a standard HR professional to do the hiring for your start-up. I’m yet to see a regular HR person turn into a great start-up HR pro. Most of them just don’t have it in their DNA. To avoid bad hires, stupid hiring processes and missing out on some exceptional talent its best suggested to be on TOP yourself for as long as you can afford to be. Founders set the culture of the company and the people they hire initially defines it.
      2. Brand: Be it your founding team, your VCs, the cool tool/service that you are developing or the world changing impact you are going to have. The easiest and surest way to get talent is to be remarkable. Unless your company’s mention people go WOW, you’ll always have a tough time getting smart people to work for you. PR/Social Media/Customer Care or what ever it takes, make sure you have a plan to create a brand around your start-up
      3. Recruitment begins at home:  This bit is so obvious that most start-ups tend to forget it. Every start-up should try to leverage their existing employees to hire more people. This is applicable as much to a 10 member start-up as to a 100 member. No one is better suited to spread the word about you than your existing workforce and you never know which one of your employees gets you whom.  What’s needed for this to worka) Happy & Empowered Employees – Unless one likes their job/company they won’t spread the word and as a founder you need to make sure that your employees aren’t just having a great time working for you they are actually so proud that they’d shout out to all their great friends as invite them. However you at your end need to ensure that they are empowered enough to do this and don’t have any bad experience about the whole thing/process.
        b) Incentives (Icing on the cake) – $$ or mobile phones, might just do wonders.Keep asking them for feedback about hiring/referral process and keep getting it implemented
      4. Customers/Partners/Investors/Vendors: The second best source to get smart folks to work is to leverage the people who do business with you. Keep them in loop about your openings and you never know who they help you hire. They might not even need any incentives and would be just happy to do some matchmaking for you (Assuming you have a healthy relationship with them and serve or pay them well). A power user/customer is a great hire(obviously they need to be talented and not just power users), they’d be obsessive about the product and would already have some ideas on how to make things better. I’d given an arm to have a passionate customer join my start-up
      5. Promotion on Your Website: Sounds too obvious again? Trust me it’s not. Far from what some of you think. Only a handful of hundreds of start-ups use their website to promote their job openings. How many of you(founder) have an updated jobs page on your website? Here are some of them that “Get This”slideshare_hiring
        Visual Website Optimizer
        Heroku
      6. Social Media:
        a) Sponsored ads on Facebook
        Sponsored Updates
        b) Company Page on LinkedIn
        linkedin_twitter
        c) Email Lists
        google_groups
      7. Content Marketing: Content is King” so to speak, for it has a life of it’s own. You can leverage content  to market yourself and attract relevant employees. Interest content will find its way around layers of social media and reach places you can’t. Here are some examples
        Brandologistakosha
      8. Start-up Events/Meet-ups: I know by experience that most start-up events are as (or even less) than the websites/blogs that organize them but even those events attract some bright people who are just out to explore interesting opportunities. You should be checking these events every once in a while. Also, you can consider organizing some meet-ups/hackathons to attract enthusiastic folks.
        has
      9. Internship portals/Start-up Websites: Some of these portals provide access to ambitious and talented people. Also,the sheer fact that some is following them means they are already a bit ahead of the curve
      10. Random Pick-up: This one is as nasty as it sounds. Like somebody’s blog post on tech architecture? Find someone’s slideshow amazing? Follow this amazing sales person on twitter? Stumbled upon a script on github that you found useful?
        GO ahead and make contact. Start interacting with these folks and see if they’d like to join you in your journey.
        The entire kwippy team was hired for Mpower Mobile(in 2008) like that

These 10 ways should help you with your hiring. Do share what you think about them and if you have any experiences around start-up hiring that others can benefit from

Update:  Here’s another super geeky way to pick up nerds

BUEDhMsCcAEHmEA

 

 

Unraveling The Mystery of Facebook Community Page

At the starting of this month I noticed a new option while creating a Facebook Fan Page and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and what to expect next. It was yesterday when I stumbled upon this

Facebook Community Page

that things started to fall into place. The info of this page (Electronics and Communication Engg. IIT Guwahati) reads

Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for Electronics and Communiation Engg. (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati)sign up and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help. You can also get us started by suggesting a relevant Wikipedia article or the Official Site.

Guess that says it all

  1. Make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic (Regularly updated/active Content? )
    Think of it, if there were to be a decently popular fan page(community page) on anything, say Yoga or Soccer then it would get updated regularly and would have tons of discussions going on it. This page on Soccer would have far more content than any other page on the same topic and it shouldn’t be difficult to guess the SEO juice it will derive and how advertiser friendly that page is going to be.
  2. If you have a passion for Electronics and Communiation Engg. (Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati), sign up and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help. (Wikipedia?)
    Yes, another community driven page which could have a few administrators or content curators that’ll ensure that the activity on the community page is sustained.

So while everyone happily takes care of the content and discussions, facebook sells the ad space at a premium to advertisers and earns $$. That’s not it, to facilitate the creation of numerous community pages like the one on E &C IIT Guwahati, Facebook has started to automatically create community pages that are up for grabs and might be promoted via ads or news feeds in future.

So what do you think about this move by Facebook? Should Wikipedia be scared?

Update 1:  There’s something more to the move by Facebook around Community Pages. Apparently they’ve started re-categorizing the generic pages(non brands/company pages) as Community Pages. Here’s an email I received about one of the pages I had created a while back

Facebook re-categorizing generic pages

Clicking on the link(for mis-categorizing) leads hereFacebook Mis-categorization of pages

Does this move worry all those who created pages around various social objects/activities? I think so.

Update 2 (1/5/2010):

While logging on to Facebook for the first time yesterday, I saw this notification

From information to community pages

As expected Facebook is indeed on a big mission to turn all the information into community pages. So now all the interests, favorite shows, books etc in my profile are linked to their respective community pages.

Another social wiki in the making

Update 3 (23/8/2010):

Just saw this.


The community pages now also have a Wikipedia tab which pulls in all the information about the subject from Wiki. Let’s see how things shape up from here.

Re-visiting Meow 104.8 FM

It’s been about a year and a half when I first wrote about Meow FM. For the uninitiated Meow 104.8 FM is an Indian talk based radio station that’s aired across Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta.

radiogaga

I’ve been thinking of reviewing Meow FM again to understand and share how it has evolved since then but it was only after one of the hosts at Meow emailed me to know “what I feel about the station” that I finally got down to write .

It took me about a week or so to listen to Meow at different hours to see what exactly they are upto and here are a few things I managed to gather.

1) The “A-Stars” Migration: Ever since last year there has been quite a few A-Stars that have left Meow FM for various reasons. Those who’ve left include Hosts Jaishree(last year?) and Rochie(July 9th) and COO(and host) Anil Srivatsava(June 2nd). The roots of migration of A-Stars in this fashion can mostly be traced down to the boardroom (bad policies or management, or both) and I assume that’s the case with Meow too.

Given the fact that the business Meow is in, the loyalties are almost equally(if not more) associated with the Hosts and the station, the station would have definitely felt the heat.

2) Talks are making way for Music: While during its initial days Meow was as much about conversations as one could be but I feel things are changing. Possible the Host exodus is the reason behind it. With just a few quality Hosts (Ginnie, Divya ,Manisha and Ved?) to handle about 14 hours of airtime(7 am – 9 pm), playing more music is inevitable. I remember listening to non-stop music for about an hour yesterday around 12-1 pm.
As it turns out Meow is mostly about music on weekends, which isn’t particularly good for people like me.

If in case this music fever spreads to weekdays, Meow will lose out on a good differentiator and even if Meow has to play more music they can try to make the whole process of the music selection a bit more interactive. A simple thing could be to ask listeners to SMS songs they’d like to listen(not sure if they do it already)

3) Diluted Positioning: While I don’t have any official word on this but off late I’ve started to feel that Meow is no longer aimed at just women. Be it the fact that they now have a male host for their 7 AM show or the fact the hosts no longer re-iterate Meow is India’s first ‘Just for women’ radio station. Also, unlike previously where male callers were allowed on just a couple of show(Tu-Tu Meow Meow & Top Cat) and on weekends(?) you can hear them on practically every show now.

If there has been a change in their target audience I am afraid Meow will find it increasingly more different to survive the competition and if there isn’t such a change they should try to leverage their positioning a lot more to do more tie-ups and eventually attract more women to them.

4) Focus on Quality: While other radio stations are still busy doing silly spoofs of Sholay’s Gabar or Sunny’s Papa ji dialogue, meow continues to add value by talking about meaningful things. Meow 104.8 FM offers by far the most intelligent conversations across the radio frequencies. Not sure if most RJ’s(from radio mirchi to fever) are stupid or they pretend so to sell to the masses but I am quite happy to note that Meow has a better lot of Hosts which continue to talk sensible stuff.

It’s not surprising that Meow has Dr Kiran Bedi as a co-host on one of their shows and they can also boast of having a great weekly book club.

5) Community: Meow’s ning community started by Anil reflects its listeners loyalty. With about 10,000 members @ ning they have a wonderful community of their customers available for free. This goes on to show that people love the station and want to stay connected.

merimeow

While I haven’t noticed extensive efforts aimed at making the most out of their community they can do a lot of things and make the most of it though I am not sure how it’ll work out with their ning community as it was created by Anil who is not associated with Meow anymore.

I’d like to conclude by saying that Meow has definitely not reached the place it should have given the strong grounds it started with and it’s a very crucial stage they are in and if they don’t do the right things game could swing either ways.

PS: Meow please get your site re-designed and if not at least update the content. It looks like the site hasn’t been touched for ages.

Update: This post is also available on radioandmusic.com (http://bit.ly/5eT7Z)

Top 5 Reasons why your brand should have a community

Community
People love connecting with others who share the same tastes, goals, beliefs, lifestyle, social status, locality and even dislikes. Essentially (most) people  are on a lookout for new groups to join and satiate their innate desire of belonging, of being a part of something along with others for all sorts of reasons.
Brands are one of the many possible threads that connect people in many ways and it’s not limited to just those who like the same brand of alcohol or the same brand of cigarette but even to kids who like the same brand of candy.

Brands, because of the way they are intertwined in our daily lives offer tremendous ways(even unconsciously) for their customers to connect and luckily for  them, people want to connect with the brands they love. They connect to find like minded people, to know more about the brand and their latest offerings, in hope of availing some offers/discounts or just to broadcast their choices to the world. Since the advent of social software , the grouping  of  people into communities/tribes has peaked a new high.

Ridiculously easy group-forming matters because the desire to be part of a group that shares, cooperates, or acts in concert is a basic human instinct that has always been constrained by transaction costs. Now that group-forming has gone from hard to ridiculously easy, we are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups – Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody”

What does all this mean for brands ? Yes, if you are a brand that people love/like and you’d like to take your relationship to the next level then you should also think of  having your community.

Here are the top 5 reasons why your brand should have a community.

1) Feedback:
According to me, the most important thing a brand can get from a community is honest feedback. Be it a new product or a new ad campaign, it’s extremely important to know what your customers feel about what you are doing. Forget market research, a community gives you a direct channel to know more about your customers, what are they like and what they like. This can be immensely helpful in improving the existing products and services and building better ones. This group can also be used to beta test a new product/idea.

2) Audience:
Community, means audience that likes your brand and wants to stay connected. A small but focused audience is a lot better than large but unfocused audience. The difference here is that this audience wants to know more about your brand/products/services as much(if not more) as you want to tell them. This means the conversion rates for any campaign here would be higher than that of a campaign aimed at a randomly chosen lot.

3) Brand Image:
Everyone loves a social brand, a brand that’s closely connected with it’s customers scores better over one that isn’t. Having a community around a brand will better the brand image in general and lend more trust and loyalty to it . If a brand is spending resources to build and foster a community it shows that it cares. Cares for its customers and is willing to give them back some love.

4) Buzz:
Will you feel nice if you get a birthday greeting from your favorite brand ?
Will you feel nice if you get a discount offer on the latest product from your favorite brand ?
Will you feel nice if you get a sneak preview about the upcoming range of products from your favorite brand ?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, you are highly likely to talk to your friends(online and offline) about it and that’s how buzz starts to build and spread.  The way communities work naturally supports word of mouth. In a group even small things aren’t small. Also, there are other factors associated with a brand’s community that add more credibility and virality to the buzz ,which in turn helps it to spread faster and wider.

5) Crisis Aversion/Management:
Think about it, would things have been a bit better had dominos already been on Twitter or Youtube ? I am sure things would be been better(even though slightly). By having an account on any of these services would have helped them in connecting with a small fraction of their customers who spend considerable time online and if there online interactions with the brand had been good, they would have definitely(on their own) taken on the task of dozing the fire and maybe prevented it from snowballing and this is just a small community on a third party tool.

I am by no means suggesting that every brand should have a community, these points are just to share why I feel it’s important for brands to have communities. What do you think ?

Pic Courtesy: http://www.ccfa.org/

The YouTube Culture

A great video presentation by Prof Wesch on YouTube from an anthropological point of view. I particularly liked the parts of talk about YouTube’s community and the website’s culture. As written previously, websites have cultures too , the fact that a good 5% of videos on YouTube are personal vlogs addressed to the YouTube community means something and common trends like remixing people’s videos and replying a video by another video demonstrate how cultures are built and grow. What do you think about the culture  and community on your favorite site ?