Categories
Marketing

My easy-to-follow recipe to boost title open rates

Teodora and I review all our posts and provide mutual feedback. Harsh feedback.

Usually, since I have more experience, Teodora titles radically change from the original idea.

When she wrote an article about Twitter, the original headline was “The Net Finish Twitter technique”. After some iteration we came up with the final one: How I have been using Twitter’s Net Fishing new technique to sky rocket my engagement.

Let’s dive into some steps to improve your titles. How about starting to apply them today?

Lose the fear to long titles

When someone reads your headline, you got one bullet and that’s it. If you can fit all the information into a few characters, that’s a real superpower.

Most of the time you won’t come up with a good idea, so having a long title that really hooks the reader is not so bad. Obviously, a very long title could be a bad idea, but remember that most readers are a bit lazy.

My personal approach is to stick to just one sentence.

Always, ALWAYS add value

You should skip informative titles like “My new Twitter technique”. Even if there is nothing wrong with it, this title is not a good idea as it doesn’t add any real value.

By adding the second part “sky rocket my engagement”, you are explaining why is worth a click.

To add value, you can simply explain what the reader will improve or learn after reading it.

Use your highlights

Usually I come up with an article idea, then the title is just the explanation of that idea. After I finish writing it, I often have fresh ideas to use as part of my title.

After some writing, creating good headlines will be way easier.

Iterate

If you can’t find the perfect fit, you can create a list of titles and then delete the worst ones and keep doing it until you find what you’re looking for.

Plus, doing this iteration over and over again will tune your creativity muscles and improve the quality of headline generation in the long run.

You can exaggerate but never lie

When we say “sky rocket” we are only making a bombastic statement, however it is not a lie, if you read the article and apply the technique you will get results.

So, why you should not lie? If people clicks the title but the content is bullshit you won’t get any benefit from it. An angry reader is worse than no reader at all. That’s because people just give us one chance, if you miss the shot, they will never come back.

Furthermore, they could share your content as fraudulent, damaging your reputation.

Read tons of titles

Sometimes the only way to improve is to read lots of titles yourself. Go to a popular site like Medium or Reddit and start reading those juicy headlines.

Try to find out why some of them work and others just vanish into the air.

Make it personal

Use your own names as the term “net fishing”. You will create a brand around yourself, people like charismatic individuals.

Another tip is to use less common words or expressions, this will enhance the uniqueness of your title and give it personality.

As an example, we use “sky rocket” instead of “increase”. You can even visualize a SpaceX rocket flying through the sky.

Visualization

To achieve a better quality, a simple rule to follow is to create a title that can be easy to visualize, try to avoid academic terms such as Click Through Rate (CTR) instead you could use Open Rate as is easier to create a mental pick.

This particular title

The original title of this article was “Simple Rules to Improve Your Article Titles.” As you can see here, I apply my own rules when developing titles.

This was just the description of the original idea, now I will iterate it a bit after finishing the article using the content as a source of ideas.

A real process of how I create a title

I documented the process of creating this title in real time, it took me SEVEN steps to find it. You can access it by sharing this content using the button below, this means a lot since it helps us to continue creating content like this. Thank you!

Epilogue

If you liked the tips, I ask you to give us any comments or ideas to help us improve. Also, I will publish more articles like this, so if you don’t want to miss any of them, you can subscribe to our newsletter.

I am looking forward to reading your boosted titles.

Categories
Career

Why your meetings sucks and how to fix them – Part I

The most unproductive habit of companies is having tons of meetings.

Traditional meetings consist of kidnapping an entire team sitting on a room (or chat) while two of them just throws new unprepared ideas to the group and the rest try to stay awake, traditional meetings are not productive at all, however why does everyone keep doing them?

No one taught us a better way to solve complex issues that involve several departments at a once, plus things are getting worse with “agile” and their recurring meetings. Nothing is less agile than mandatory-fixed-recurring meetings. Really.

Let’s look at some simple actions that you can implement to improve your organization’s information sharing habits, because that’s the real issue we’re trying to solve in the first place.

How to know if your meetings are doing bad?

  • They took more than 20 minutes.
  • Usually, you need more than one session.
  • Too often people ask for information you shared in previous meetings.
  • Work is wasted because changes weren’t shared efficiently.
  • You need to invite the whole team, you can’t narrow it to main actors.
  • New ideas emerge during meetings. (For me, this is the biggest red flag)
  • You need to put people in context before you can make decisions.
  • No action taken after the meeting.
  • You have recurring meetings such as dailies or weeklies.
  • You have no one controlling the flow.
  • No one criticizes other’s ideas.
  • Only one is sharing.
  • You use meetings as a way of communicate general announcements.
  • People often ask when, who or why a decision was made.
  • Meetings-chain, have meeting after meeting.
  • You use tools to relieve recurring meetings overhead, like a bot to assist your daily.

If you meet some of the above points I have bad news for you. The worst part is that bad meeting are like a virus, they always keep expanding and growing until someone takes educated action.

After a while you bottom out. Someone organizes a meeting to find how to solve meetings.

Yaiks.

What meetings should look like?

Most people miss the whole point around meetings. Let me do a simple list of some of the possible solutions, we will discuss them in the upcoming parts of this article.

  • You can tell your meetings are a disaster when new ideas come up all the time, this is a clear sign that people needs to do work BEFORE the meeting. If this happens, you need pre-work requirements, with this action your meetings will be shorter and you will avoid unpremeditated ideas.

  • Pre-work. Lots of pre-work. Meetings exist to take action not to brainstorm ideas or explain issues, detail what is needed to be prepared before the meeting.

  • Each meeting has to have a summary of what you are going to discuss there, other option is to inform people one by one, this also helps to filter people that shouldn’t be part of it. If you need to explain the issue at the beginning you are already consuming everyone’s time, plus some people may not fully understand it. There is nothing worse than spending an hour in a meeting where you really don’t need to be. If someone didn’t read the summary he must leave, period.

  • Meetings should be recorded in some way, if this is not possible, one of the assistants should write down what was discussed and what the decisions were. These reports must be available for the team in a tidy way. Always appoint someone to be in charge of summarizing or recording the meeting.

  • A meeting has to have a simple and single goal, if you have more than one issue, just create another meeting. This also helps with the recording, if you discus to much stuff in a single meeting, the people listening to the report will be lost or not interested in that part.

  • Meetings need to be time boxed, never, NEVER exceed the scheduled time. If you can’t solve the problem in 15 minutes the team needs to do some hard preliminary work before wasting everyone else’s time.

  • Just invite main actors, others can read the reports later. Just invite passive people if they are being trained in some way, you need to say it out loud when a person comes just for learning.

Remember, most one-to-one conversations are not meetings, the key to improve here is to swap from long meetings to quality conversation. We will talk more about possible solutions in part 3.

If you’re curious, here is my meeting schedule when I was part of a SCRUM team at some point in my career. You can access it by sharing this content using the button below, this means a lot since it helps us to continue creating content like this. Thank you!

In part 2 we will talk about chat formats, their good and bad parts.

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Categories
Career

How signing up to your local gym improves your professional skills

When you join a office full time job, we use to make a crucial mistake, we tend to reduce our social interaction in three different boxes:

  • Friends.
  • Family.
  • Coworkers.

You may think: “So what? How this could affect my professional career? Are you going to talk about love and friendship solving everything?”

Not by a long shot, this is another lesson. Let me put it simple, in Spanish there’s this nice quote:

Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.

So, if you are surrounded by lazy people, little by little you will become lazier. But, what if you are around hard working ones and you try to keep them close to you? Sure, they will influence you day by day.

Remember that guy at your job that invest in every Cryptocurrency? If you keep him close, he will show you every new headline about cryptocurrencies.

Knowing your neighbour

As long as keeping good people can be beneficial for you it is also dangerous strategy, if we keep just “filtered” people around we will eventually get out of touch. A guy that doesn’t share any interest with you could be your next customer, or maybe in the future you will need to close a deal with him.

Opening our social box is harder nowadays with social media. We live in social bubbles. Social media increase that bubble size further and further. You follow people that you like, and people follow you for the same reason.

So, let’s be honest here. When was the last time you followed someone that doesn’t talk you code? Moreover, when was the last time you followed someone you disagreed with?

Our brains don’t like effort, they are designed to waste little power. Social interaction could be tiresome, so our brain selects the easiest path, in this case our mind forces us to with people similar to us.

Now, if you think about it, this will harm you in the long run. Whenever you want to talk someone outside your “team” you will be lost in translation.

Going to the gym is a solution

That’s why I recently joined my local martial arts gym. If you wonder, here is my new schedule:

I know you already know the health boost that exercise can bring to your life. However, this is not about exercising, it is about meeting people outside of your bubble, true strangers to your tastes.

You’ll be talking to people who have totally different levels of education, even big jumps in salary income. You can find family people, shy ones, slow students, and even sharp minds.

Everyone has his own rhythm, everyone has their favorite song.

Extracting the true personality

Local gyms allow you to meet people in a “stress” situation in which the true personality appears. This is where you study, this is where you learn. Focus on people, on the type of reactions they have, learn to respect them and respect their points of view.

If you do, your creativity will be boosted and you can begin to solve other people’s problems. Solving problems is the ultimate goal of the creators, if you dedicate enough time you will become proficient at it and your next side project will benefit from that, plus your own decisions will include many new experiences raising your chances to success.

The final lesson here is to learn from others, even if you think they have little to teach you. Humans often stop to listen when filled with knowledge. Start listening and you will learn, if you ALWAYS try to lead you will never follow and little by little your point of view will blur.

Lead and follow can be exchanged

Remember, if you want people to like you or deal with you, you need to understand their point of view, forgetting the customer’s perspective is a fatal mistake that most people tend to make in their personal or professional life.

Categories
Tech

Why a CEO should care about the programming language the team uses

I’ve seen so many companies dying because they choose the wrong tools to build their unicorn, moreover, this phenomenon not only tears up early startups, but also can destroy big companies.

Managers can’t cope stopping production and invest in the long run. We all need to meet deadlines, right?

My father used to trinked with electric machines and other magic artifacts a lot, he taught me some tricks, so I tried to move some wires around. Suddenly, he called me out for using the wrong tool. Use always the right tool for the job, he used to say.

First of all, why do engineering teams do the job with a flat tire?

Second, why would you avoid using better tools?

And how can someone develop a feature when it takes tons of hours to deliver it?

A real example

Back in 2015, I was part of a big company that provide water management services to Barcelona. At some point, this company obtained the money and resources to recruit a new team of 50 people to develop the next generation of its software suite.

But not only that, they had plenty of time to get the job done. When I joined the team, the project has been running for almost 2 years.

They developed almost nothing more than a complex system and designed a complicated workflows between teams.

At this point, the work speed was so reduced, that it took for a team of 7 a whole week to implement a new simple data field in a form, but this is not even the worst part.

However, since middle managers know that changing anything was a headache, they spent even more time and effort avoiding changes.

In fact this reaction was caused out of fear to overload the already stressed team. So when designers came up with a new idea, managers fought and rejected it, even if those ideas were Albert Einstein level.

Don’t you believe a change per week can stress a team? You might think I’m mocking you. Well, I wish that was a lie too.

The reason why changes take forever

If you never saw a company working, it is difficult to imagine what can cause this terrible mess, so that’s why I like examples a lot, because examples has the highest ratio of human to human information exchange.

I don’t want to bother you with deep technical stuff so I’ll simplify as much as I can.

Let’s face the problem of creating a Date component. We will find out how much complexity a simple Date field can hide from the naked eye.

A calendar field.

To add this Date field the team decided to create their own solution. You as a non-technical person, may think that the problem is just a move in the calendar and it shouldn’t hurt too much.

This is a fatal mindset.

Let’s take a look at how much work a Date field requires:

  • Changing month, also changing the days disposition and count for each month.
  • Changing year, also changing months and days.
  • Create a new date format that the backed could work with.
  • Animations. A new whole animations systems, what could go wrong?
  • Configuration and options to add styles, if you’re lucky JSON (configuration) and CSS (styles) will be used but it may not be that day.
  • Testing, I hope you got some.
  • Bug fixing, this will happen a lot, the most common error in software is overconfidence that things will not break when someone else uses them.
  • Two weeks after releasing the component, another team found that their days are off number. Leap-year, how could be forget about this?
  • Selecting a date from mouse-click.
  • Selecting a date from a mobile tab.
  • Localization, we want other countries to use our app so: Lunes, Martes…
  • Internationalization. Wait, is not localization enough? Well, not every country in the world starts the week at the same day. North America likes Sundays, others prefer Mondays.
  • Search dates using user input. Customers may just want to write down the Date and skip searching using clicks and tabs.

The above list is not even finished, but I think you can get the idea.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

You may wonder if this very problem is already solved.

Yes it is. Teams around the world solved this issue a dozen times.

Then you can start thinking why someone would do the job again. Imagine a car company engineering the brake system for every model, over and over.

I know this could be a bad example as Tesla redesigned the whole car from scratch but Elon Musk recruited skilled car designers to do the job. Teams at Tesla don’t start from zero as they know the problems already, solving them is only half the work, actually knowing the problem is king.

This is just a simple sample, but I’ve seen this same pattern in so many companies, more than I can chew.

Maybe they are just using the incorrect database for a particular use case that the team has to solve.

Maybe they have chosen the wrong language or framework, or even using the so famous Scrum system that could not suit your needs.

But why? Why CTO and tech people tend to choose certain technologies, tools and programming language over others?

Well, only Gods knows. That is why managers must have sufficient knowledge to make effective decisions and lead the team to victory.

Managers must be technical

Software is eating the world, so managers should be prepared for future challenges. Not only you should know the buzzwords like Blockchain or AI, but you should also to use them and see their true potential.

Imagine being in a decision-making position and skipping the Internet revolution. Imagine owning a horse company when the Ford T came along.

You really don’t want to be that guy.

In conclusion, that’s why I decided to create a series of articles that tries to summarize all the knowledge a good manager must master to avoid the major caveats of the software industry.