How to Find an Epiphany in a Reeking Urinal
How's that for a weird title? And no, it's not clickbait.
Like most entrepreneurs who know their arses from their elbows, I have an advisory board. It isn't a formal thing. It's a bunch of friends with various skill sets. We meet twice a month, but not always for myTweetPack. We're six people with 6 businesses. The business in focus rotates.
A while back it was myTweetPack's turn.
As usual, we met a local steak and ribs place that has become our de facto boardroom. I won't mention its name due to the reeking urinal thing. More on that later. Besides stinky urinals are not a normal thing there. If it were would we make it our go-to hang out?
Not bloody likely. I'm a culinary school trained Chef and Pastry Chef. I'm a little on the fussy side about where I eat. The reeking urinals were completely out of their control. Those urinals triggered an epiphany anyway.
The meeting centered on possible growth strategies for myTweetPack. At least it centered on growth strategies after it was done centering on heaping dishes of ribs accompanied by copious amounts of beer.
Maybe that was part of the problem.
Beer played an integral part in the epiphany. You can't buy beer. You can only rent it.
Advisory Boards are Great!
At least they're great when consensus is reached. I would have settled for a quorum. Heck, a thin majority would have been nice.
Ideas flew in. They were shot down. More ideas took their place.
They were shot down in turn.
Dead ideas littered my notepad like zombie corpses in a Walking Dead episode.
As discussions progressed, more beverages were consumed.
As beverages were consumed, bladders filled.
As bladders filled . . . Well, you get the picture.
My first trip to the men's room was uneventful. I didn't even notice the problem. I doubt anyone did.
I noticed on my second trip when the atmosphere was more. . . How shall I put it ? . . . Ripe. The usually pristine men's room was imbued with a discernable aroma.
Chanel #5 it wasn't.
I wasn't even Aqua Velva.
The men's room wasn't dirty. A lack of care on management's part was not the problem. The place was spotless.
It still stank.
This is a large modern restaurant. The modernity extends to the men's room. It's equipped with auto-flushers. You guys know what I mean. I mean those proximity sensor thingies that flush the urinal automatically when you're done.
The auto-flushers weren't working.
In a 3 to 400 seat restaurant, we can assume half the patrons are male. Since one can only rent beer, not buy it, there are at least three visits to the men's room each. Assuming two seatings, that's over 2000 "rental returns" with no intervening flushes.
By the end of the evening, I had to hold my breath to pee. Skunks would have come out of there holding their noses too.
And, WHAM, an epiphany!
When automatic doesn't go as expected
No one noticed the auto-flush wasn't working until the stench hit. That's what led to the epiphany.
Most of you know my love for automation. Servers are quick but not overly bright. Humans are bright but not overly quick.
Let servers do the grunt work while we humans focus on telling them what to do.
Automation is great when it works. What happens when automation needs human input, but the human doesn't know that input is needed?
Automation grinds to a halt waiting for that input.
myTweetPack is a marketing automation/audience engagement suite built on Twitter. There's a ton of stuff running in the background. It's designed for professional account managers, but many gifted amateurs use it as well. As per Twitter rules, there's also input required from the member.
I'm on it every day. I see what needs to be done and when.
PROBLEM: If the member doesn't check, he/she won't know an action is required. Whatever module needs the input will just sit patiently waiting for an input that may never come. Some inputs have a far greater impact than others.
Did I mention that servers aren't overly bright?
When that happens, myTweetPack.com is in the same boat as the auto-flush. We think it's rolling nicely along, but the stink is building.
Stupid servers cause this problem. Stupid servers can fix it.
The solution is web push notifications. You know the things I mean. Web push notifications are those little windows in browsers that pop up to tell you stuff.
As luck would have it, YouTube send me one while I was writing this post. It's at left. (Hi, Chris!)
If someone you follow posts a new video, YouTube sends you a push notification.
If someone opens the Live Chat on myTweetPack the Live Chat provider sends me a push notification.
Web push notifications are more immediate that email, and not nearly as intrusive as SMS (text) messages.
Web push notifications are more immediate that email, and not nearly as intrusive as SMS (text) messages. Click them to do something. Ignore them and they fade away within about 30 seconds unless they are set to await a response.
All I need to do is make myTweetPack's servers monitor member accounts. When they notice a required input, the servers send the member a push notification.
That's easier said than done, but done it is.
Now we can let members know when it's time to act, even if myTweetPack.com isn't open! All the notification needs is an open browser.
The tools now exist. Members just need to accept the notifications. We even added a test link to the Dashboard.
Web Push Notifications are STRICTLY Opt-In
If you plan to offer push notifications on your own site, know this. You have one chance, and one chance only, to get a visitor to allow notifications.
Visitors only have two choices, Allow or Block. There is no "I'll decide later after I see if it's worth my while to allow it."
If they deny permission, it's a block. It's a song and dance to unblock, and you can't sing it nor dance it. The user has to unblock you.
Good luck with that.
They won't even know that notifications are possible. When you're blocked, you're really blocked. You can't even ask them again.
In short, you're screwed.
It's better to get permission in two or three steps. In fact, don't even start the subscription process until "Allow" is a foregone conclusion.
Step one brings a visitor to where they can find out why they should allow notifications, like this link. This link is functional for myTweetPack.com members. It won't do anything for anyone else other than show you how we do it. Non-members should not click "Enable Notifications." Your browser will process the permission, but we won't store anything in your account because you don't have one. Duh.
You'll just confuse the servers. They're fast but very stupid.
This link will work for anyone. It subscribes you to web push notifications whenever I write a new beBee article.
In step 1, the visitor sees why allowing us to send notifications is in his/her best interest. They also see how easy it is to revoke the permission if they change their mind later.
There is a prominent button for them to click to start the permission-granting process.
The " www.myTweetPack.com would like to send you notifications. Allow / Block" window only shows up when they click that button. By then, the visitor has presumably already decided to Allow.
Web Push Notifications going forward
Web pushes are now available to the general membership.
We already have email marketing modules that allow members and non-members alike to subscribe to existing or custom-built RSS/ATOM feeds (among other things). Similar mechanisms allow them to subscribe to push notifications when new content appears.
The challenge is that myTweetPack.com will have the permission, not the individual member. That's just the way web pushes work. That means we also need to implement anti-spam rules and unsubscription for a specific member's notifications but not others. Otherwise, one inadvertent spammer will wipe out everyone's permissions!
myTweetPack members can now create push subscription lists for all their content, regardless of its source. Write a piece on INC. . . . send notifications. Post on Thrive Global. . . send notifications. Blogs, HuffPost, Forbes, Entrepreneur, podcasts, YouTube, beBee, LinkedIn, anywhere your content lives, you will be able to send web push notifications just by creating the content!
At last, a real solution to the lack of post notifications on LinkedIn!
Yes, even LinkedIn.
Your subscribers will get a web push notification whenever you write a new LinkedIn post. Best of all, they will get it without you doing anything more than just writing the thing.
They just need to click a link to subscribe or unsubscribe to those notifications by just clicking a link. This one subscribes you to web push notifications whenever I write a new beBee article.
Ahh, the air is smelling a lot fresher now.
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