Add a Photo to Your Twitter Post to Increase Engagement

The first time I started seeing expanded photos in my twitter feed was early July of this year. My first reaction was that one of my chrome extensions was the cause of this happening. So I ran a couple of experiments to test if this tactic was worth pursuing. The metrics that I saw as a result were pretty powerful. As a result I highly recommend adding photos.

Adding a photo expands your tweet to the size of 3x the vertical height of a normal tweet. If a follower Retweets your photo, you now have that space on their feed as well. For the best result use a call to action in the viewable window area.

NOTE: In order to take advantage of this the photo must be uploaded through Twitter. 

The dimensions I used:
Original Image Size — 868px w x868px h
Expanded Image — 438px w x 438px h
Viewable Window Area —  438px w x 220px h
Free PSD Template using these dimensions.

Here are some stats:
Tweets with photos are 94% more likely to be Retweeted
Tweets with Instagram links were 42% less likely to be Retweeted.
Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than those without
Tweets with images receive 89% more Favorites
Tweets with images receive 150% more Retweets

Exhibit A: (RT and FVs)

More on this topic:
Twitter Images Now Show Automatically in Your Stream

San Francisco, I Fu*king Love You!

If you’ve ever lived in San Francisco/Silicon Valley, you might’ve observed the same thing I have since moving there about 18 months ago. Since this is home to many of the world’s largest technology and venture capital companies, it would make sense that there’d be a large amount of motivated, intelligent and hardworking people. So you did notice that too, huh?

Why don’t pockets of awesome people like this exist in other parts of the US?

Upon my initial recognition of such a specialized cluster of people, I was reminded about a chapter in a book called Freakonomics. Whether you’re familiar with the book or not, I’ll explain the correlation.

In the book, the chapter referred to two schools that were in neighboring areas; one school had a reputation for being better than the other as far as curriculum, instructors and overall atmosphere. With that being said, the parents of the children living in the district of the latter school did everything in their power in order for their child to attend the “better” school. Whether they had to lie about their address or petition to their city commissioner, these parents were determined to give their kids what they thought would be a better education. While other parents stuck to the guidelines of their district and had their kids to go the school they were zoned for.

Researchers had analyzed data ranging from the quality of teachers at both schools to the way students were taught, even the types of students who attended both schools and oddly enough, the results were quite similar. As it turns out, the outcomes had nothing to do with which school the students attended, but had everything to do with the parents. The students who performed better had parents who were involved with their education, regardless of the school they went to.

In relation to San Francisco/Silicon Valley, those intelligent, motivated, and hardworking people I observed had the desire to succeed and moved here because if it. The thought that startups will only succeed in SF/SV is not completely accurate. They succeed because the people here already possess the passion, motivation, and drive to succeed. 

I compare living in SF/ SV to living in Florence during the Renaissance; there are just so many great people you can learn from. I am consistently surprised at the high quality of conversation I can have with what seems to be with just about anyone in technology.

Can these pockets exist elsewhere? How can we grow the same community elsewhere? What are your thoughts on the topic, Comment below.

Here are a couple upcoming posts.
– Usability Tests for Non-UX Designers.
– Why Every Entrepreneur Should Learn to Play Poker
– Design Hacks for Non-Designers
– Justifying Your Design Decisions

UX Best Practices for Designing Mobile Apps

After designing user experiences for mobile applications for a couple years, I’ve learned to pay close attention to the details. I’ve seen amazing apps, and way to many bad apps. I’ve compiled a list of “low hanging fruit” to enhance the UX on mobile apps.

Each context requires slightly different design goals.

Bored – Social, News, Entertainment (Has time to kill)
Busy – Email, Calendar, Banking (Optimize for micro-tasks and getting things done easily)
Lost – Attractions, Directions, Recommendations (geo maps yelp: connectivity and battery are important)

All applications are not created with the same goal in mind, and shouldn’t be designed that way. That being said these are some of the key guidelines that all apps should follow, regardless of context.

The visual clues the design aspect of an object that will suggest how the object should be used (visual clue to its function). Be sure to include affordance for gestures. Provide visual feedback for every user interaction when user clicks something.

This is critical. Having to wait for data is not acceptable for mobile apps, users are on the go and have less time and attention than if they were on a desktop.

Users are more likely to be using one hand. The primary actions (targets) should be easy to reach with the thumb. The target size should be large enough to hit with minimal error. They have enough breathing room so that they don’t accidentally click wrong targets (if they must be close to the other targets make sure that its easily reversible e.g. just click to back to the previous tab versus deleting a message you were about to send.)

Screen Real Estate:
Because there is limited space on the screen you should remove unnecessary buttons and labels.

App Control Placement:
Controls at the top of the screen versus at the bottom, e.g. instagram, maps. Controls for the app should be at the bottom of the screen versus the top. When the Control is at the top (google maps, Apple maps) when you need to edit update your hand is in the way.

Use the Proper Navigation Model:
Apps currently use 3 types of nav models

None – Single screen apps, Calculator app
Tab Bar – Different areas in the app without a clear data hierarchy, almost like different modes where they don’t have any true relationship to the other tabs.
Drill-down nav – List + detailed content hierarchy, (settings on the iPhone)

Things to Avoid:
– Autocorrect in form-fields!
– Avoid making the user type a lot of information (if you can’t avoid it, support landscape view. This makes the typing much less painful)
– Avoid modal alerts as much as possible. (Its okay if you’re using it as a confirmation to a potential hazardous action e.g. deleting a user account, message)
– Avoid excessive alerts and badges (if you use badges make sure they are accurate)

Designing Your Application:
Polish: Professional design is valuable more so on mobile than desktops due to the personal relationship to the phone. Applications can be used anywhere at anytime, making the application visually appealing can help with adoption.

Your Icon is your business card, if defines you. I have a strong opinion about the need to have a well designed icon that also somewhat represents what your app does.

Map out user personas: How is are target audience going to use the app, and with mobile you want to ask “where are they going to be using it”

LoFi Wireframe prototype:
Using wireframe tools you can replicate interaction and user flow through the app. This will help uncover potential problems, target size, font size etc.

Feedback Loop:
Get Feedback from real users. Ask about expectations for the interface (what the user expects to happen after they click xy button.) If affordances are used correctly (icons, label) the expectation should align with what will happen.

Track Data:
Using services like Apsalar and Mixpanel, you can uncover problems, as well as track how users are interacting within the app. Determining the most popular thing areas of your app can help with planning future iterations.

If I’ve missed any feel free to add them in the comments section.

50 Business Models Built on Free (Download the Audio Book – Free)

In his latest book Free: The Future of a Radical Price Chris Anderson lists fifty examples on free business models organized into three groups, Direct Cross-Subsidies, Two-sided markets, and Freemium. Below you have the list for free, that I hope Chris doesn’t mind. Buy the book to get examples for each + the rest of the book (Freemium):

Free 1: Direct Cross-Subsidies – Any product that entices you to pay for something else


  1. Give away services, sell products
  2. Give away products, sell services
  3. Give away software, sell hardware
  4. Give away hardware, sell software
  5. Give away cell phones, sell minutes of talk time
  6. Give away talk time, sell cell phones
  7. Give away the show, sell the drinks
  8. Give away the drinks, sell the show
  9. Free with purchase
  10. Buy one, get one free
  11. Free gift inside
  12. Free shipping for orders over $25
  13. Free samples
  14. Free trials
  15. Free parking
  16. Free condiments
Free 2: Three-party markets – A third party pays to participate in a market created by a free exchange between the first two parties


  1. Give away content, sell access to the audience
  2. Give away credit cards without a fee, charge merchants a transaction fee
  3. Give away scientific articles, charge authors to publish them
  4. Give away document readers, sell document writers
  5. Give woman free admission, charge men
  6. Give children free admission, charge adults
  7. Give away listings, sell premium search
  8. Sell listings, give away search
  9. Give away travel services, get a cut of rental car and hotel reservations
  10. Charge sellers to be stocked in a store, let people shop for free
  11. Charge buyers to shop in a store, stock seller merchandise for free
  12. Give away house listings, sell mortgages
  13. Give away content, sell information about the consumers
  14. Give away content, make money by referring people to retailers
  15. Give away content, sell stuff
  16. Give away content, charge advertisers to be featured in it
  17. Give away resume listings, charge for power search
  18. Give away content and data to consumers, charge companies to access it through an API
  19. Give away “green” house plans, charge builders and contractors to be listed as green resources
Free 3: Freemium – Anything that is matched with a Premium Paid Version


  1. Give away basic information, sell richer information in easier-to-use form
  1. Give away generic management advice, sell customized management advice
  2. Give away federal tax software, sell state
  3. Give away low-quality MP3s, sell high-quality box sets
  4. Give away Web content, sell printed content
  5. Give away online games, charge a subscription to do more in the game
  6. Give away business directory listings, charge businesses to “claim” and enhance their own listings
  7. Give away demo software, charge for the full version
  8. Give away computer-to-computer calls, sell computer-to-phone calls
  9. Give away free photo-sharing services, charge for additional storage space
  10. Give away basic software, sell more features
  11. Give away ad-supported service, sell the ability to remove the ads
  12. Give away “snippets” sell books
  13. Give away virtual tourism, sell virtual land
  14. Give away a music game, sell music tracks
Free 4: In the book Chris also mentions a fourth type of Free that is not listed as it is not considered a business model: Nonmonetary Markets. An example that comes to my mind is to spend nights writing a blog without advertising to build a reputation, continuously develop ideas and concepts, keep yourself updated in a field, get feedback, and get into contact with smart individuals…


Download the audio book here: Free: The Future of a Radical Price



Metric Hacking Is Not Growth Hacking

Metric hacking is not growth hacking. Before it became “Growth Hacking”, it was just creative, low-cost marketing with growth cycles (e.g. viral loops, etc.). At its core, it should move the needle in a positive, non-inflated way and as a result uncover profitable and sustainable strategies for growth. Period.

Metric hacking creates the facade of product market fit. This will hurt you in the long run.

On Gaining Traction and/or Beta Users for your iPhone App

Recently had an entrepreneur ask me about how they can gain traction and/or beta users for their new iPhone app. Here’s what I had to say.

“As for questions regarding traction, and beta users. One of the biggest marketing channels that just recently launched is the Facebook mobile advertising platform. I’m not sure how big your budget is but its definitely worth a shot.

One of the problems that app developers run into with marketing iPhone or android apps is that they try to market their product on desktop platforms. This is difficult because you don’t want to reach users while they are online (desktop) you want to reach them while they are on their phones. 

A second problem is that they need to target the specific platform their game is built for (iPhone/android etc). Facebook Advertising solves these problems and isn’t saturated like other advertising platforms…yet.

I’m sure you have already thought of viral loops you could use to hook friends of players into the app. Invite via Text, find friends that are already on the app. alert when friends join etc.

You can also reach out to websites that review apps to get reviewed (oneappaday, touch arcade).

Hope that helps, Best of Luck and Keep in touch.

– M”

Any other channels that are promising for Mobile “platform specific” marketing?

When competitive advantages become the standard

SEO, Growth hacks, UI – UX, viral loop and engagement mechanics –

All of these might be an advantage for adopters but when everyone incorporates them the advantage goes away – it becomes the norm, as a result people then demand other kinds of advantages. The breath of services demanded explode to parallel the spread of services thru the network.

When competitive advantages become the standard, are tech companies that solve the real problems the only ones prevail?

This is a question thats been burning in my head. I guess, it would really depend on whether the industry you are in can support multiple companies. The 2 gas stations at the same intersection dilemma .

Thoughts on the matter?

Where Startups Are Headed: Rapid, Lean and Micro

Whether you help run a web-based startup, are a member of an online production team, or earn your living in part by understanding how things get done on the web, it’s important to get a sense of how the most innovative Internet companies create their products and build their businesses today.

Even though the current economic climate is not so hot, amazing advances in the open-source software movement, coupled with vastly reduced costs for such things as infrastructure, bandwidth and software services are allowing web-based companies to develop online products and services faster than ever before. And Internet companies themselves are developing non-traditional strategies that best meet the needs of the hyper-paced modern web marketplace.

Rapid Iteration Model/”Ship It!”
xingxing-logosocialmedian founder and XING Chief Product Officer Jason Goldberg discusses the utilization of a rapid iteration model that allows development of “great products and enhancements that meet your needs.” Goldberg has evolved this model into something he terms “Ship It!” Boiled down, “Ship It!” means that product development cycles are run in quick succession, making user feedback explicitly part of the build process. Goldberg goes on to define an ethos that many cutting-edge startups live and breathe today: launching features publicly before they are “fully baked,” with the expectation that avid users will provide the feedback and direction needed to allow development teams to put on the final spit and polish.

We will launch new features before they are finished. Our plan is to get new stuff out there on the site and learn from our users as to how to make them better. You tell us what you like, don’t like, and want to see improved — and then we’ll do our best to keep up with your input.

Whereas for most industries it would be sheer folly to release products that were not yet perfected, on the Internet this is beginning to be more rule than exception, particularly for free and advertising-supported products.

Goldberg further strengthens his company’s policy of transparency by making himself available for answering questions and receiving feedback both on his XING profile and on Twitter.

The Lean Startup
Web-based startups are getting faster and more responsive, and they’re also getting leaner. Eric Ries, entrepreneur and co-founder/CTO of IMVU, defines the lean startup as “a disciplined approach to building companies that matter”:

It’s designed to dramatically reduce the risk associated with bringing a new product to market by building the company from the ground up for rapid iteration and learning. It requires dramatically less capital than older models, and can find profitability sooner. Most importantly, it breaks down the artificial dichotomy between pursuing the company’s vision and creating profitable value. Instead, it harnesses the power of the market in support of the company’s long-term mission.

So not only are startups becoming faster and more adept in rolling out product iterations, the lean startup concept allows startups to conserve resources while utilizing feedback and a rapid iteration model to find the fastest and most efficient path possible to maximum profitability.

The Microstartup
mahalo_logo1In November, Mahalo founder and CEO Jason Calacanis issued “The Future of Startups,” a proclamation on the state of startups and the Internet. Calacanis lays out that the era of “The Zero Cost Startup” (vastly lowered overhead, servers, hosting costs, and so on) has led to “The Age of the Microstartup.” Echoing the trends of the Rapid Iteration Model and the Lean Startup, Calacanis muses that “[m]icrostartups are amazing because they can try ten different things over a year with very little pressure to “break out.” This leads to a lot of people taking a lot more risk, starting a lot more crazy ideas.”

Low costs and freedom to “crowdsource” feedback allow, then, for a “Try Everything” era in which startups can spin out ideas, fail, and try again in rapid succession until finding the idea, product and business model that gains traction. In the microstartup model, the most important resource is the founders’ and team members’ time.

What do you make of the trend of web-based startups going rapid, lean and micro?

Source: Gigaom

Mark Cuban- The Most Patriotic Thing You Can Do

Bust your ass and get rich.

Make a boatload of money. Pay your taxes. Lots of taxes. Hire people. Train people. Pay people. Spend money on rent, equipment, services. Pay more taxes.

When you make a shitload of money. Do something positive with it. If you are smart enough to make it, you will be smart enough to know where to put it to work.

I don’t care what anyone says. Being rich is a good thing. Not just in the obvious sense of benefiting you and your family, but in the broader sense.  Profits are not a zero sum game. The more you make the more of a financial impact you can have.

I’m not against government involvement in times of need. I am for recognizing that  big public companies will  continue to cut jobs in an effort to prop up stock prices, which in turn stimulates the need for more government involvement.  Every cut job by the big companies extracts a cost on the American people in one way or another.

Entrepreneurs are needed to create and grow companies to absorb those people in new jobs. If entrepreneurs don’t create those jobs, the government ends up having to spend more money to help them one way or another.

So be Patriotic. Go out there and get rich. Get so obnoxiously rich that when that tax bill comes , your first thought will be to choke on how big a check you have to write. Your 2nd thought will be “what a great problem to have”, and your 3rd should be a recognition that in paying your taxes you are helping to support millions of Americans that are not as fortunate as you.

In these times of “The Great Recession” we shouldn’t be trying to shift the benefits of wealth behind some curtain. We should be celebrating and encouraging people to make as much money as they can. Profits equal tax money. While some people might find it distasteful to pay taxes. I don’t. I find it Patriotic.

I’m not saying that the government’s use of tax money is the most efficient use of our hard-earned capital. It obviously is not. In a perfect world, there would be a better option. We don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t live in a perfect time. We live in a time where the government plays a big role in an effort to help lead us out this Great Recession. That’s reality.

So I will repeat my point. Get out there and make a boatload of money. Enjoy the shit out your money. Pay your taxes.

It’s the most Patriotic thing you can do.

Original post here 

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