My Ugly Baby

All of the Ruby On Rails posts that precede this entry were generated while I was developing RecordMyRun.com, a simple web application that started as a place where I could record my running and hone my web development skills. In the process I learned a lot, like how to downgrade a 3.1 Rails application to Rails 3.0.3, and how to integrate the awesome Highcharts JS and DataTables jQuery plug-ins to add charts and sortable, paginated tables. I also learned why you have to keep your Gemfile.lock file updated in your repository.

But now it’s time for the next stage – finding and signing-up users. RecordMyRun.com is free, I haven’t even placed any Google ads on it yet (soon!). This is almost uncharted territory for me. My only other experience with marketing a website was my now-defunct marine photography business JACoulterMarinePhotograpy.com. I learned from that short experiment the power of social media for directing traffic to a website – when I covered an event I placed links to the gallery on relevant on-line forums, my Facebook feed, etc. I used Google Analytics to track the response. This was great, but the product I was selling had a very narrow market segment (sailors who particpated in the regattas I covered) and it was easy to target them.

RecordMyRun.com has a much wider market potential and I have to figure out how to reach it without spending any money (because I’m cheap like that). I don’t plan to make a bunch of money from the site, but I am interested in how effective I can be at getting new users to sign-up for it. It’s knowledge and experience I figure will come in handy for future projects.

I’ve taken my first step, creating a Twitter account and following other Twitter users who post using the #running hash tag. I know I need to provide some sort of relevant content via this account or be dismissed as a Twitter spam-bot, and I’ll do that. What will be interesting is performing the regression analysis to see how many Twitter accounts I have to follow to get one new sign-up. My guess is a lot – like a hundred or more. I can’t remember the numbers, but I’m guessing it’s going to be like a direct mail campaign where if you get 1% response rate you’re doing well.

We’ll see how it goes. Now it’s time to go follow another twenty Twitter accounts.

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