I had dinner with a good friend last night, Howie Liu of Etacts fame. He made a couple of suggestions about how we could use Twitter to get more traffic. I took one of his ideas and evolved it a bit and came up with the following late last night…
What if we gave people who were about to pay us to use CarWoo! the opportunity to get a 5% discount for sending a Tweet out about us?
I saw it not as an opportunity to increase conversions through discounting (even though it is), but as an opportunity to get more of the best kind of traffic out there: word-of-mouth. At the end of the day, it’s really just a marketing expense (and one that’s a whole lot more cost-effective than a lot of other things we’ve tried…)
This morning, before I left for work, I sent the following email to Brian Armstrong, one of our amazing engineers as well as Megan Hannay, our Social Media Director and Peter Chiu our Product Manager (also both equally amazing people) just to get some quick feedback.
I quickly got unanimous approval that it was a good idea (not that that would have stopped me ), and Brian chimed in with an easier way to implement the feature.
Brian and I got sidetracked working on a couple things before lunch, but just after noon I got to work designing this little feature. I spent about 20 minutes in Photoshop messing around with some different layouts, then just went straight to HTML. I pulled down our latest code from Github, created a new branch, added the necessary elements and CSS, ran the tests to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently broken anything, then pushed everything back up to Github so Brian could pull it down and finish up the integration with Twitter. Easy as 1-2-3.
A couple hours later, I got the following email from Brian.
It was done. It was live. And it only took a few hours.
These kind of things–implementing features really quickly just to test them out–happen on a regular basis here, but maybe I’m just so accustomed to it by now that I don’t even notice how fast we can get things done. It was only until Megan sent me an email after the fact pointing out that the whole experience would make for a great blog post that I realized how awesome it is to work at a startup. She said:
“I think it’s a great example of the way that small companies and startups can often get things good ideas done more quickly and efficiently. I mean, you just thought of it, and you did it. If this were a fortune 500 company with a social media agency, it would almost definitely have taken at least 5 meetings, 3 separate designs, two iterations of programming and one bajillion almost launches before finally going up. So it would be a cool post in which to talk a little about the ‘culture’ of a startup and the neatness of having programmers run a business.”
I’ve never had the luxury of working at a Fortune 500 company, but Megan’s absolutely right about one thing: when you’ve got a bunch of engineers running a business, you’re bound to GSD.