Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Twittapolls

So, we all know that social media is this thing that we’re supposed to use to promote our businesses. There are a billion articles telling small business owners that this is REALLY IMPORTANT and NECESSARY and VITAL,  or else we should go crawl into an analog, Web 1.0 hole and end it. This is mostly for good reason. After all, it makes it relatively easy for your company to interact directly with customers and for said customers to submit feedback and suggestions. However, organizing this feedback can prove to be quite the challenge.

Twittapolls is a service does just that: organizes the feedback you gather from social media sites. It’s simple to use, too, all you have to do is launch a poll, the service immediately promotes it on Facebook and Twitter, and then gathers the results to view and share in an easy and compatible format.

Below, Dave shares a lot of insight on starting a small business, especially one in such a popular medium:

How would you explain what you do to somebody’s grandmother?

(assuming everyone’s grandmother is as smart as mine….)   🙂

Granny, you see there are FREE services on the Internet called ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’.  They enable people to share personal opinion quickly in short messages using your computer and/or phone.  They are very popular, and are in fact used globally….

However, while expressing opinion is easy, it is NOT easy to collect opinions and organize them.  We created a service called “Twittapolls” (twitt-a-polls) to make that possible.  Users can simply launch a poll, and automatically promote and share it using their existing Twitter and/or Facebook account.  Results are collected automatically and are available immediately for everyone to view and share.

It was designed for use by Radio and TV stations to connect with their audiences, but is also used by individuals around the world.  Oh, and we make money by providing the service and selling poll sponsorships (e.g. This poll sponsored by…).

What are some industry specific challenges you faced?  

Getting people to re-think their own views of “success” in social media.

We honestly think the number of followers is completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. In our view it is about the “passion” of your crowd; specifically, what percentage (%) of your friends/followers are actually participating, passing it on, and how often, and what is the trend?  Twittapolls is the perfect measuring stick for that “passion” because it captures feedback and opinion by using polls using your Twitter and Facebook accounts – measuring your crowd’s responsiveness and engagement to your brand/account.

What was your biggest learning curve/experience?

Awareness is HARD to get in social media – there I said it…  If you are not offering something obvious, cool, easy to use and works… you are not going anywhere fast. 

What made you use crowdSPRING? 

Honestly, in our business careers, we found that working one-on-one with a creative individual has been a mixed bag of results. Some have been awesome, and some have been a complete waste of time and money.  When we have had bad experiences, we often questioned ourselves as to “what are we not communicating, doing, sharing, or whatever?”  Given that we have had great working relationships with individuals, we could only conclude that the bad relationships were not listening, caring or responsive, or had the skills for our needs.  However, even the bad ones still expected to get “paid” for their “work” (which was unfortunately not even useful).  The solution has at times been to hire multiple individuals to “hedge our bets” and pick the better of the two or three efforts – which can get expensive.

We learned about crowdSPRING by one of our internal people who happened across it by a mention on Twitter.  When we saw the process, and the results that others were getting, we were sold immediately.

What’s the craziest story you have from starting your own business?  

We had a pseudo offer for partnering with a large media company within a few weeks of starting… THAT was crazy…  We asked ourselves “Did we really figure this whole thing out THAT fast?!”  But, in the end it was not as good as we anticipated.

Here is some real world advice:  Make sure you understand the person you are talking to, and where they are in their company structure – Titles mean NOTHING!

If you could go back, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

Trust less, verify more.  Within the social media space, things move very fast.  There is a tremendous risk to play in the space, it takes time and real money, and everyone thinks they are an expert because they have a X-Followers and Y-Friends (with 0% engagement).

Bigger companies who are behind your solution will always sell a “vision” of their future (just around the corner) based on a baseline of your existing product/service/technology.  Selling todays reality against corporate visions is hard – excellent service, support and ease of use should trump it, but not always. Seek great working relationships and read: Sun Tzu – The Art of War.

Your ideas are vulnerable, and selling to an organization that has resources to build what you have done is a risk.  It is all about who can run fast, and keep the ground they have captured.  You must appear to be really far down the road, even if you are 70% of where you want to be.  A clean and professional user experience is a deterrent for your customers and/or competitors to try to leap-frog your solution with their own. Force an opportunity to discuss the “build vs. buy” by killing the argument up-front…

It is important to establish goals for your own people, your resources and even your customers so that everyone is aware and working towards them. Keep everyone accountable – especially your customers once you get them on the same page and pointed the same direction.  Stay in contact, know what they need to do next for you, keep them busy supporting your mutual goals.

We have had plenty of suitors… Avoid people who want a percentage of the company for their “advice” and “industry contacts” to help things grow faster or “take it to the next level” (oh how sooooo cliche that has become).  “Advice” is free, you can purchase a list of “industry contacts”; seek people who can actually “DO” things to produce desired results – they are hard to find.  If you think you have the right person that you don’t want to lose, make their rewards directly related to their performance – never agree to carving up your organization, too many cooks in the kitchen sucks.

How do you see your company growing in the future?

We are a work in progress.  Goals 6-months ago are different today, and they will likely change in the future.  All of this depends on finding customers who “get it”.  Never be afraid to change your Business Model if you need to.

Six words of advice to those looking to start their own company.  

Put together a trusted business team.

Twittapolls’ call for new website graphics and styling received 34 entries.

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