The Press and Twitterati love for TweepML (part 2 of 4)

[Read part 1 here]

I’ve learned how to do PR on my previous startup, Sampa. We had a few PR hits, a few PR misses, but the more PR we did, the better we became at understanding how to do it right. For TweepML, I did it all backwards, mostly because I had a good feeling about getting a lot of press. Because bloggers would be target users of TweepML, I asked a few of them how they would feel about a service that would allow you to create a list of Twitter users so others could follow all of them at once. This is what a prominent blogger replied told me:

M.A.: “I’ve always wanted this and wondered why it didn’t exist”.

At the time the service was not even close to launch, but if the most in-the-known blogger never heard of anything like that *and* he wants it, it means there is something good here, so I better hurry.

I’ve got the service ready to launch (or as ready as I thought it needed to be for launch) on Monday August 31st, but then it hit me: I need to get white-listed by Twitter otherwise the API calls would fail. So I submitted the request to Twitter. But the service was ready and there was no reason I couldn’t tell a few people. Well, I picked the 30+ most influential bloggers in the world and invited them to try the service, and said “hey, you can’t write about it yet because Twitter has not white-listed us yet”.

Have you seen a blogger drooling? I’ve seen it. They just loved the service. Many of them had blog posts ready to go as soon as I told them we were white-listed. A few kept emailing me almost daily for the next week or so asking for an update. Finally, on September 9 shortly after my lunch I learned Twitter had officially white-listed our server and we were good to go. Instead of sending a press release, which at that point was meaningless since they’ve been using the service, I wrote a personal email explaining a few more details about the service and send it out at around 4 PM that day.

After sending the email I went to pick up my kids at daycare and the family went to Ooba’s, the best Mexican restaurant I’ve been to. As I arrived there around 6 PM I started checking Google Reader for the posts and they started coming… TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, GigaOm, TechFlash, and on, and on, and on.

The service was buggy, but who cared. There was such a demand for it that people just looked the other way. That night — a Wednesday night — between 6 PM and midnight we’ve got 3,500 visits. The next day we’ve got 14,000 visitors, then it stabilized between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors a day. I was shocked. I know it would be good, but not that good. In the 21 days of September TweepML had more than 100,000 unique visitors! 

If I could pinpoint a single reason under my control for the instantaneous success of the service was simplicity. I kept everything very simple. The UI was clean and beautifully design by the team at Design Commission. The user experience was just brain-dead simple. TweepML did just one thing and it did really well.

But what I didn’t do was… [to be continued on part 3 of 4]

Marcelo Calbucci

Marcelo Calbucci

I'm a technologist, founder, geek, author, and a runner.