iphone Mobile Apps Social Media TechBiz

Instagram Flexes Its Marketing Muscle with CommunityFirst

Instagram hit 200 million users a few months ago.

Of those 200 million users how many can Instagram engage?


The marketing team at Instagram sent out boxes to select users. Users with follower counts as low as 188, and as high as 679,450 got these boxes. These users posted photos to the #communityfirst hashtag. I created a list of likes and followers.

In the first 24 hours here are the stats:

117 users posted photos of what they got in these boxes
3506478 followers were a potential audience for the #communityfirst hashtag
78230 people liked the photos posted
2 percent were engaged

If a like is a “click through” which is highly dubious, a 2 percent CTR is about average.

blogging How-To Mobile Apps TechBiz Webalytics

How to Get More Instagram Followers Free Honestly

We now know that you can get fake followers and brands won’t know the difference. These brands give tons of money to fakers. We also know that Googling “autolikers” will show us a bunch of apps that can be used to game around 200 followers per day. What does honest engagement look like?

A network graph visualization will easily show fake followers. In Gilad Lotan’s article linked above, more purple means more fake, i.e. accounts that follow exactly 2000 and are followed by less than 20.

Honest engagement *cough* might look something like this chart below which you should please click:


1. If you drop followers are dropped, if you have good content you shouldn’t have mass un-followings. I dropped 449 followers and only lost 30.

2. If you stop adding followers, like I did around November and December, and just focused on engagement through adding photos, about 25 per month, then you can get follower growth.

3. Do you have to post almost everyday? It turns out that if you add 5 followers per day, spend 15 minutes in the morning and evening liking every good photo in your feed, and do 15 photos per month, you can get about 75 followers per week.

These stats aren’t hard and fast rules, but seem to be true for my account.

I’m going to dig in more and get better stats via the API in an upcoming post.

Social Media TechBiz WebApps

High Quality Engagement from Instagram Photo Walks

Last year I hosted over 25 photo walks organized through Instagram and about half of these were branded “experiences.” I did this to learn more about photography, marketing and working with brands. It was a fun experience but not so fun realizing I helped generate millions in revenue and just got an Instagram mug from it. 😀

I was able to reach a large audience for a fraction of the cost of a TV commercial (< 50%) , and was able to produce measurable and actionable results. stolioriginal

Here’s some data from the Stolichnaya photo walk which had the hashtag #stolioriginal :

followers 234564
likes       9328
posts         67
guests        32

1240 (drinks & food)
1200 hotel + flight for organizer

$2440 for 234,564 viewers

Commercial for a show like Two and a Half Men
$215,000 per 30 second commercial
8.5 million viewers
$0.025 per viewer

In one evening Stoli was able to reach over 200,000 eyeballs at a cost of a penny per eyeball! Great stuff, right?

Bitcoin TechBiz

RIBS for Bitcoin

I just found a piece on Hacker News called PR Advice from Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications

To develop a compelling message, Marooney advises running it through the RIBS test (will your story “stick to your ribs”?)

The RIBS test consists of crafting a message that is

  • Relevant
  • Inevitable
  • Believable
  • Simple

If I were to run an ad campaign for Bitcoin, I’d run it on the tagline of “Your Money, Your Responsibility, Your Destiny.”

I’d satisfy the relevance part by highlighting for merchants by highlighting the near zero dollar fees on bitcoin charges. I’d also highlight the fact that Bitcoin places the responsibility for your money in your hands. For example, during a tax lien, the sheriff goes to the bank, shows them the judgment, and takes your money. To seize your funds stored in bitcoin, the sheriff will have to seize the actual device with the private key, and make you type in your password to send the government the funds. Given that the tax system has done so many unfair things like tax the rich less and actually target people politically, this inconvenience for tax collectors is okay by me. It gives the average citizen more leverage against the IRS. As someone who was levied

The inevitable part of Bitcoin is that looking at FiatLeak you can see in real-time more and more fiat converted to bitcoin. A good example of adoption is Overstock hitting $1 million in sales through customers paying with bitcoin.

In order to make Bitcoin believable or credible, it’s important that exchanges become transparent. The debacle with the Mt. Gox exchange losing over 750,000 bitcoin or about $450,000,000 at the time of their shutdown would’ve been prevented with exchange data public. Credibility is Bitcoin’s biggest challenge.

The simple part can be fulfilled by showing how easy it is to make a purchase with an Android enabled app.

There’s lots of marketing and evangelizing work to be done for Bitcoin.

software TechBiz

Litecoin Mining: Building a Rig

Last week I built a Litecoin mining rig which cost $1673.96 to build. To break even, assuming I can produce 10 Litecoins, I need Litecoin to trade at around $167.40 USD. It is currently trading as of 12/16/2013 at around $25 USD.

The 2 important things to know about Litecoin mining or mining any cryptocurrency are:

  1. most mining profitability calculators are wildly off after a few days. They assume linear growth of Litecoins whereas growth is really logarithmic, and eventually mining becomes unprofitable. The most accurate one I could find is at Bitcoinwisdom and that assumes you guess the growth of difficulty accurately, and
  2. electricity costs determine your profitability.

If you have any questions or have anything you’d like me to write about, please comment below.

Mobile Apps Social Media TechBiz

A Social Media Guide to Growing Engagement on Instagram the Hard Way

We have clear, big data analytics from Curalate about what an engaging Instagram photo is. We can now create duck-face selfies, with lots of background and blue tones, at will, and get more likes.

I just hit 1000 followers a few weeks ago and average about 200 likes per photo. That’s an engagement of 20% that’s much higher than many of the brands or those on the suggested list.

How did I get here?

Well, thanks to those 1000+ followers, I grew engagement the hard way.

There are 3 reliable ways to do this.

1. Be engaged on Instagram: Like and comment positively on as many photos as your aesthetic sensibilities will allow you to. A good amount of time to spend reviewing and liking photos is 30 minutes a day split in the morning and evening. Think twice about leaving a critical comment since that isn’t really the culture of Instagram. If you are wondering where 30 minutes stacks up to the average user, it is 3 times more time than the average user. Like I said, this is the hard way.

2. Post really awesome photos: When you post a photo, post an awesome photo and use at least 11 hashtags. Here is a good sample of 11 hashtags to used based off of my interests and, a personal Instagram analytics site and viewer. This is the most effective method of getting new likes and follows within Instagram according to Curalate. When people comment on your photo, thank them or engage with them back in a positive way.
On weekends, participate in the Weekend Hashtag Project. If you have a personal brand that you are building and not a corporate one, you might get recognized by Instagram HQ from the Weekend Hashtag Project in a blog post. This will create even more engagement. Follow the Instagram account for announcements.

3. Best and funnest of all: go to the Photowalks. My Instagram account was stalled at around 200 followers for 2 years. It wasn’t until I started going out and meeting other Instagram users that I finally got to 1000. After every Photowalk, you can gain followers you met face to face, and then followers from those followers. Here’s awesome advice from a diehard Instagramer, Christian Beccara aka @throughthetinylens who has gotten lots of engagement, buzz, and met lots of folks on trips, recently to New York City:

For me it is about getting involved with the community, going out and shooting whenever possible, acknowledging other peoples comments and staying humble.

Great idea!

Mobile Apps TechBiz WebApps

3 Alternatives to Showing Photos on Twitter after the Instagram Yank

If you post a photo with text from Instagram to Twitter, your photo will no longer show up on Twitter. Lots of blogs have already covered this story. Some have even gone so far as to defend this decision.

If you’re looking for photo services that haven’t yanked Twitter cards. Here are 3 that are cool to use.

  1. There’s Camera+ which has lots of filters and photo editing tools. The main feature that I like about Camera+ is the light box that allows you to select and arrange which images to edit.
    Here’s an example of Camera+ embedded into Twitter.
  2. Path is okay if you don’t mind blasting your closest friends with Twitter updates. The iPad version of this app is really beautiful and lots of thought went into the UI. Here’s its embed.
  3. Via.Me* is hands down the best for power users that need to post images to both Twitter and Facebook. Your photos also show up Pinterest-like on the app’s web page for leisurely desktop viewing. Below is Via.Me in a Twitter card.

* Disclosure: I work on the API at Via.Me.


The 10 Commandments for Remote Team Management

“The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.” —
Thomas Hobbes

This is a list that I compiled during my time as a reluctant work at home coder and manager. I was working at an Ad Agency at the time and really wanted to be at the office. That was where the power to get ahead was; that was where all the invites to awesome parties later in the evening could be obtained. I was forced to work at home during the recession as part of a cost saving and political maneuver. Here are my 10 commandments for what I learned to keep my team together and in the groove for getting projects done and done well.


  1. Always have an IM status of when you will be available in 5 minutes or less, e.g. “Out to lunch until 1400 PST”.
  2. IMs have to be answered in 5 minutes or less.
  3. Use military time with a timezone.
  4. Use flowdock to track when items get finished and as a secondary back channel. Devops / Back-end people, anybody involved with 24/7 support should use IRC.
  5. Use basecamp or pivotal (depending on the complexity) for project management.
  6. Have a daily meeting, no exceptions. I picked noon when working with West Coast and East Coast teams.
  7. Do punish folks for missing meetings or being unavailable. This can be as simple as pointing it out. Or, in my case, as harsh as 3 strikes you’re out, but I don’t think this works as it did during the recession.
  8. Do not punish anybody for over-communicating. This is the worst mistake ever. I’ve seen hotheads punish folks for over-communicating, and these hotheads spend the rest of their careers saying, “Why are you telling me this now the day of the deadline?”
  9. Reward on-site visits lavishly. I used 2 hour lunches, long coffee breaks, and playing with the latest “toys.”
  10. Meet for meals or drinks in person weekly. This is a really good gauge for if they love you or hate you, or don’t care.

I found this keeps everybody on point.

startups TechBiz

End of the Bubble or Just a Correction?

I parsed the data at for startups in San Francisco. Crunchbase has a pretty easy to use API.

I wanted to see how much startup funding was coming into San Francisco. Was it close to the $20 million per day during the peak in 1999?

It turns out that the peak of this current technology boom happened last year and at current rates of investment we’re almost back to where we were 2 years ago.

	Year	                Per Day
2005	$231,850,000.00	          $635,205.48
2006	$505,934,000.00	        $1,386,120.55
2007	$762,064,970.00	        $2,087,849.23
2008	$1,320,579,950.00	$3,618,027.26
2009	$928,213,997.00	        $2,543,052.05
2010	$1,430,424,359.00       $3,918,970.85
2011	$2,807,900,000.00       $7,692,876.71
2012	$1,725,000,000.00       $6,738,281.25 (estimated year end projection)

Is it the end of the technology bubble or just a correction?

Mobile Apps TechBiz

Instagram Introduces Lower Rate Limits

I just triggered a rate limit in Instagram by liking photos. It seems that once you trigger it, you are limited to 8 likes per minute. It seems that the rate limit is at 30 per minute to trigger it the first time.

Has anybody else run into this?