It's been an interesting week. On February 19, the brand new FeedJournal Reader service launched and created a small buzz, boosting my daily unique visitor count to 10,000. Seven days later the traffic is still up there, and I thought it's a good time to do a retrospective to see which lessons could be learned form this experience.
What I did to promote the release:
- Sent a press release with pr.com.
- Submitted suggestions to major Web 2.0 blogs and media.
- Notified 30 powerful sneezers.
- Blogged about it
Before the release I always imagined the press release would be my strongest card for generating buzz. I figured print media should be interested in a technological innovation related to their field. As far as I know, the press release was only picked up by one source (online) plus Google News, so that was a big disappointment. I suspect pr.com might not be the best service for publishing press releases. I chose them because I knew Google News would pick it up, and I thought that would be worth something. Next time, I'll go with another service.
More encouraging was that Download Squad picked up the news extremely quickly. I had been unsuccessfully pummeling them with suggestions to mention FeedJournal Publisher back when that was released. No doubt that Reader is sexier than Publisher, so I don't blame them. Lifehacker followed suit, being tipped off by Download Squad, and suddenly all the traffic I ever dreamt of was coming my way. gHacks were also quick to post a review of the Reader service, and from those 3 sources the news rippled through the blogosphere.
Unfortunately my hosting provider couldn't handle the traffic! It was painfully clear to me from looking at my inbox that anyone who visited the site ran into server errors. Bad...very bad! What should I do? It was late and my head was spinning. I made a calculated guess that it must be the newly enabled image support that was the culprit. Fortunately I had a readily available switch for it, and I hit it. The service seemed to be back in action. Some hours later, I posted a short message on my blog about the scaling issues and the temporary image disabling (re-enabled by now). Unfortunately many of the comments on the big blogs originate from the time when the site was experiencing problems.
I was surprised to see the number of blogs simply regurgitating the initial announcement from the big blogs. These "posters" don't offer anything original, and I am not talking about link posts here. Perhaps it is some rogue SEO technique used to score incoming links; no matter what's the reason, it smells fishy.
It has been fantastic to get loads of e-mails with feedback, comments, praise, feature requests, bug reports, you name it. I am pushing all of that into my to do-list. The reception of the service has been great, more positive than I had dreamed of. Generally people either love it or think it's silly - but many many people think it is innovative enough to try it out or even more importantly, mention it in online discussions.
In summary, you can't say but that the release has been a success, by measuring the number of users. I should have prepared better for scaling issues, but with a little bit of luck I managed to solve it in a satisfactory manner. Now it's time to look forward and to deal with the items in the to do-list!