How To Attract 1 Million Unique Users Every Month By Being Selfish, Think Visibility 2009

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending yet another great Think Visibility conference. My talk, How To Make Social Media Suck Less, was based on an ongoing discussion with Andy Theyers of Isotoma about trying to work out what makes some social media sites really work and some not.

Around a whiteboard we attempted to come up with a “Social Media Theory of Everything …. in a diagram”. We might not have THE answer as such, but we do have some inklings about what might be called (loftily) Engagement Architecture… about many sites fail to offer any form of interaction/engagement unless you are registered.

We also “discovered” that maybe, a social media’s strapline or branding message or proposition, should have a motivation that is ENTIRELY SELFISH and that the social aspects of your site should be a deferred benefit (not the reason to join).

I enjoyed Julian’s (from The Telegraph) talk because it reinforced some of my beliefs about the people-oriented aspects SEO. The Telegraph has seen a phenomenal growth adding a million unique users, month on month on month. He (rightly) says that using “traditional” SEO or PPC practices that this would at best be expensive and at worst be completely unsustainable.

So, how did The Telegraph achieve this ridiculously huge growth in visitors and rankings? By setting up what was effectively a very small in-house team whose job it was to “coach” the entire organisation on SEO concepts. It’s as simple as that. Reporters, understanding SEO basics and then doing the things they do ever so slightlyly (is slightlyly a word?) differently has made all the difference. A million users a month, every month difference.

I felt Julian’s (and my) talk might have been better if a little shorter (to be more punchy) but was kept entertained by his red trousers. I guess everyone needs a cheap gimmick :-)

Of course, the real work and insight of any conference happens in bar afterwards and I vaguely remember being involved in the development of a genius screenplay (remember 5% of that idea is ours!), the birth of a public toilet doors that make fart noises and an art concept that involved wheelie bins…. and much, much worse!

The Think Visibility crew are now looking for speakers for the next conference, so if you know anyone with something to say about “the things that usually get left behind in the web design process”… give them a nudge. They’ll enjoy it!

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One Response to How To Attract 1 Million Unique Users Every Month By Being Selfish, Think Visibility 2009

  1. I really enjoyed your talk, the slides were great!

    I look forward to seeing you at the next Think Visibility conference hopefully.

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