Career BAMFs: Huge

This is the first in my Career BAMFs series, (“idols” was a word with too much cultural baggage).  Here, I’ll talk about the individuals and groups that inspire me to pursue the stuff I want.  Note:  This isn’t in chronological order (the first people I looked up to, for work, were David and Tom Kelley, danah boyd and Mimi Ito).

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Huge

Tagline: Make something you love.

From their About page: What We Do — We create experiences that transform brands, grow businesses and make people’s lives better.

How my fangirl-ness formed:

I.  I think the first trigger was when I found out that Huge was behind the Think With GoogleNewsweek and the NYC.gov designs.  They were all clean, beautiful and functional.  That time we were auditing and keeping an eye out for different content publisher designs for our office projects.

I also loved their signature — the H that reflects the current project they want to feature.

II.  But there was this one Instagram picture (which I can no longer find) that made me literally follow Huge’s “career” developments.

It was a picture of a slide from an Aaron Shapiro (Huge’s CEO) talk – I’ve been trying to Google it, but the slide said something like “What would your business do if digital were your only channel?” (but probably better written).

That question got me.  For me, that question was exactly what business leaders to ask themselves, in a time where social media campaigns just keep popping up, which I don’t feel executives see as contrinuting to the bottomline.

And digital platforms have that power — of contributing ROI.  Otherwise, it’s just a fun waste of money.

III.  I also love how they organize and communicate their processes and culture.  Follow them on slideshare, and it’s like a crash course on UX and design process in an organization that makes money.

They have fun, meaty presentations on:

Introductions to a Design Community

The Importance of Usability Testing, especially for digital agencies

“The Pitfalls of Process”

Even portfolio tips for UX designers:

And the story of how they branched out and created their own UX school:

They just really put out great writing, and good design.  And their CEO is promoting a great lens for businessmen to look at digital

More, in the next days.

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Ev Williams: Different services create value in different ways

Morning inspiration for people who want smart KPIs.

Especially for digital, but also for other things: success is relative.

Ev Williams, CEO of Medium, expounds on how there is “God metric” (Jonah Peretti, 2014).

Read the whole thing.

If you’re in the business of convincing people to refine their objectives.

My many favorite points from the piece:

…If that’s happening, I frankly don’t give a shit if Instagram has more people looking at pretty pictures.

Of course, I am trivializing what Instagram is to many people. It’s a beautifully executed app that enables the creation and enjoyment of art, as well as human connection, which is often a good thing. But my rant had very little to do with it (or with Twitter). My rant was the result of increasing frustration with the one-dimensionality that those who report on, invest in, and build consumer Internet services talk about success.

…Will Oremus’s piece in Slate is the one I saw that didn’t just regurgitate the “bigger” headline. He does a great job of explaining why it’s not that simple. It’s worth a read, but the summary is this:

So is Instagram larger than Twitter? No — it’s different than Twitter. One is largely private, the other largely public. One focuses on photos, the other on ideas.

…our top-line metric is “TTR,” which stands for total time reading. It’s an imperfect measure of time people spend on story pages. We think this is a better estimate of whether people are actually getting value out of Medium…

…everyone is in a “war for attention.” But it uses unique visitors as the way to compare how different outlets are doing in this war…

We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time. After all, for a currency to be valuable, it has to be scarce.

Chartbeat’s Tony Haile has done a great job of promoting the idea of an “Attention Web” (as opposed to the “Click Web”). He’s hopeful a shift to measuring attention will improve the web:

For quality publishers, valuing ads not simply on clicks but on the time and attention they accrue might just be the lifeline they’ve been looking for. Time is a rare scarce resource on the web and we spend more of our time with good content than with bad.

The problem with time, though, is it’s not actually measuring value. It’s measuring cost as a proxy for value.

Advertisers don’t really want your time — they want to make an impression on your mind…

…As the writer of this piece, I don’t really want your time — I want to make an impression on how you think.

But taking people’s time isn’t really the goal. And people wasting time is actually the opposite of the goal.

This is the problem with any one-dimensional metric. As Jonah Peretti says, there’s no “God metric”:

I feel like what you see in the industry now is people jumping around and trying to find the God metric for content. It’s all about shares or it’s all about time spent or it’s all about pages or it’s all about uniques. The problem is you can only optimize one thing and you have to pick, otherwise all you’re doing is making a bunch of compromises if you try to optimize for multiple things.

Marketing Magazine: Things Marketers Can Learn From Candy Crush

Articles like these make me proud of being part of a Product Dev team, during my younger years at work.

With this article, I think Marketing Magazine is able to express how the older model of advertising needs to change.

People Like Us (by which I mean those who work in digital agencies) rarely congratulate Candy Crush developer King for this trick of turning a little puzzle into a massive load of money.

Making lines of four things isn’t new enough as a game idea to impress us. Which is not a problem for  King; its later launches use exactly the same “matching” gameplay. Indeed, King cites the repeatable nature of its game development as what makes the company’s value sustainable.

Perhaps it will one day spend its millions on a new game idea that People Like Us like, and it can enjoy the fleeting glory of our admiration….

This is what King has to teach us, if we will only put our critically acclaimed, animated adventures down and listen. It updates that game every two weeks. After the launch of your brilliant app or game or website or campaign idea, how often do you return to it to add more to it, really? It’s something the older folk in advertising may recognise in the development of long-running brand ideas…

Are there 73 episodes of your brand idea, app or content platform? And when you launch that innovative new ‘thing’, be it a campaign, a website or, perhaps, a small loveable wireless printer, have you committed yourself to 1075 levels of increasingly addictive interpretations and uses of it? Does it even momentarily cure low self-esteem, or might it inexorably distract someone’s attention wholly from whatever it is they are doing (and not just play in the background)?

In a world of thousands of ‘new things’, made by thousands of Imagineers and their ilk, we could probably stand for some ‘things’ to last a bit longer than their launch period. We could stand for some of them to hold our attention for longer than it takes to grasp the story the first time.

Hooked’s Eyal: 3 Steps to Hooking Users

Nir Eyal wrote “Hooked”, a book on developing strategies to hook users into products.

The first post from him that I came across talked about three (3) steps to make your users form a habit:

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY

Now that you have the requisite site and stats, you need to answer the first question of Habit Testing: “Who are the habitual users?” First, define what it means to be a devoted user. Ask yourself how often a user “should” use the site. That is to say, assuming that some day all the bugs are worked out…how often would you expect a habitual user to be on the site?

Be realistic and honest… you’re just looking for a realistic guess to calibrate how often users will interact with your site.

WHO’S GOT THE HABIT?

Now that you know how often a user “should” be using the site, it’s time to crunch through the numbers and identify how many of your users actually meet that bar. This is where hiring a stats wiz can prove exceedingly helpful. …The best practice here is to get create a cohort analysis to provide a baseline by which to measure future product iterations.

STEP 2 – CODIFY

Hopefully, you’ll have at least a few users who interact frequently enough for you to call them devotees. But how many devotees is enough? My rule of thumb is 5%. Though your rate of active users will need to be much higher to sustain your business, 5% is a good benchmark to being Habit Testing.

However, if at least 5% of your users don’t find your product valuable enough to use as much as you predicted they should, you have a problem.

…Even if you have a standard user flow, how users engage with your site creates a unique data fingerprint which can be analyzed to find patterns. Sift through the data to determine if there are similar behaviors that emerge. What you’ll hopefully discover is a “Habit Path”, a series of similar behaviors shared by your most loyal users.

STEP 3 – MODIFY

With new hypotheses in mind, it’s time to get back inside the build, measure, learn loop and take new users down the same Habit Path the devotees took. For example, leveraging their Habit Path, Twitter’s onboarding process now guides new users to start following others immediately.

Quicksprout’s Patel: On an actionable tip for improving Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. (From his “About” page)

He writes about a straightforward tactic to improve search visits, by optimizing keywords you use, versus your competitors.

Great advice for anyone working on optimizing content sites (i.e. all websites).

He talks about gathering the URLs and keywords of your competitor sites:

…Delete the rows that contain the keywords for the homepage URL.

You are doing it because you want to go for long tail phrases as they will drive more total traffic, and they are easier to rank for. Typically, internal pages rank for more long tail phrases than a homepage, which is why you want to delete the rows that contain the homepage URL.

Now that you have a list of keywords your competitors are going after, you should look at their content.

Once you do, create your own content, incorporating similar keywords.The key to this process is to make sure your content is better than your competitor’s. If it isn’t, you won’t generate more social shares, links, or traffic.

FastCo: How Hendrick’s Gin targets hipsters and succeeds in capturing that audience

And the award for most clinical exposition of marketing to hipsters is…

Fast Co’s article on how Hendrick’s Gin, and Pabst Beer, cater to the hipster psychographic.

Read it if you want to learn how to market to hipsters, in a way that reads like an exotic fantasy mystery piece.

“…developed piercing insights into what makes today’s hipster’s tick. Hipsters have increasingly sophisticated sensibilities, finding ways to express their individuality by discovering beautiful, idiosyncratic clothing, music, and art from the past. Hipsters have always been into vintage, but lately, bartenders in trendy neighborhoods have had a decidedly Victorian sensibility, sporting waxed handlebar mustaches, pinstripe vests, and pocket watches.

…’Our target is driven by curiosity,’ says Hendrick’s senior brand manager Kirsten Walpert

‘Hipsters don’t respect money, they respect art,’ says C.C. Chapman, marketing expert and founder of social good consultancy Never Enough Days. “There’s a certain level of craftsmanship that goes into brands that matters to the hipster market. They buy into brands that have put effort into crafting their own story and identity.’

…hipsters around the country were drawn to the beer’s lowbrow roots: It signaled a total rejection of the yuppie households…

Pabst hires field marketers who are exactly like their target consumer, that is to say: hipsters.

‘It involves building brand activators of true hipster, but never ever calling them that,” says Karen Post, a branding expert and author of Brand Turnaround. “They identify the influencers, but don’t sell them out. ‘…

constantly plays into hipster’s fascination with things that are both vintage and idiosyncratic. The brand has invented an elaborate world full of playful, unusual things that they have never seen before…”