How Do You Prefer Web Startups Communicate?

I’m in the process of launching a new product and with a clean slate I’ve started to re-examine all my processes.

One communication aspect I feel the need to visit is how users of a service prefer to stay informed about developments and news. Specifically, I’m talking about new features and updates.

While there are many options, the main ones come down to the following:

  • Email
  • Blog – visit directly
  • Blog – subscribe to RSS feeds
  • Twitter
  • View notifications when logging in to the site
  • Facebook

Personally, I subscribe to the RSS feed of services I use and keep them all in a folder in NetNewsWire called “Products I Use” and then check them occasionally. Alternatively, I’ll sign up for email notifications.

How do you prefer to stay up to date with web services you use?

Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

8 comments On How Do You Prefer Web Startups Communicate?

  • Email for the really big announcements that would tend to get people using (or back to using) your service/product (but get my permission first to email me)

    Blog via RSS since I am always in Google Reader
    Twitter as well since I am always on there too.

    And maybe notifications when I log into the site as well for smaller things.

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      Do you think there is a big overlap with blog/feeds and Twitter? This is my confusion right now. For newer services, I find that personally Twitter versus their blog is an either or for me. I don't want to see the info duplicated. But I'm wondering if I'm just an edge case.

      • Yeah, I know what you mean about the overlap. However, I don't mind it too much when a product or service uses their twitter account to post a tweet linking to their blog posts. When I read it via RSS or Twitter, I can just quickly skip over it knowing that I have already seen it. The twitter account should be more than just linking to the blog, though. It should be used for communicating with users directly and real quick announcements and updates. One thing you could do to limit overlap is only post the more important blog posts on twitter.

  • I'll subscribe to the company blog usually.

    An email is fine once in a while for big new features (it doesn't bother me TOO much if you haven't asked for permission, as long as you aren't doing it constantly).

    Twitter: no.
    Facebook: no.

    I would like to see more notifications when I log into sites. THAT is the time I will use your new feature, and not necessarily when I happen to check my email and read about it.

    • Good point about logging Ryan, but the issue there is if it's a new service, the user may not have it into their routine to visit on a regular basis. I think this is especially true if the service itself is new and trying to build out a base of loyal users.

      I ran into this yesterday with RescueTime. They have a major change to their feature set coming this week and I only knew about it by randomly logging it which I normally don't do too often. They had a blog post on it and the site notification, but in this case I think I would have preferred an email.

      Here's another example that should be close to your heart. Has Everlater made any updates I should know about since I signed up? I wouldn't mind an email every so often that would keep me updated and reminded that I have an account there. If it's too much email or I don't care, I could just unsubscribe to it from settings in the app itself.

      I think the overall trend is a combination of the blog with some major updates on Twitter combined with a notification function on the site itself.

  • We haven't been sending out email updates with Everlater, but we plan to as soon as the site is open – which is soon. So maybe just announce any big features via email – and talk about the small stuff on the blog. Not sure about notifications within the site, but it's something I'd like to do.

    • Great news. I wasn't criticizing you guys btw, just pointing out that even with useful web apps like Everlater, end users can forget to go back.

  • I prefer blogs I can subscribe. At least for big updates.
    My feedreader is something I use on a daily basis and I have time to sort the feeds. Check updates and new features of products on a free weekend and read the stuff that is really important on the go on my iPhone.

    A notification on the site is nice – you reach every user. IMHO really important since not everybody will subscribe a email newsletter, a blog or something else.

    Twitter is nice for short stuff like “we are working on feature xyz”, “fixed 950 security holes” or “we just sold all your information to facebook – haha” but not for big updates. The chance to miss something is just too big.

    (btw.: did you ever take a look at your page and tried to comment with NoScript enabled or JavaScript disabled?)

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