Tag Archives: growth

Community + Freemium = Start up Magic, Hootsuite Community

Recently, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes posted an article in his LinkedIn influencer column “Two Lean Startup Hacks to Get Millions of New Customers | Ryan Holmes | LinkedIn” to discuss some key tactics we used to build Hootsuite in the early days: freemium + community.

I am especially proud of the community focused narrative of which I’ll share a bit here:

Investing in Community-Building Programs  

But it’s important to note that freemium was just one part of our formula for user growth. Another big piece of the puzzle was investing in a fully functional community department at Hootsuite. In many startups, the community team – if there’s one at all – is treated as an extension of marketing or customer support. While their ostensible role may be “building a community” of users, they spend a lot of their time pitching products and fielding help calls.

Our community department, by contrast, didn’t have direct sales or support responsibilities. Instead, their primary mandate was to help people who already knew and loved our product connect with one another. They built out social media channels in a half-dozen key languages, enabling users around the world to share updates and learn about Hootsuite news and events. And they organized crowd-sourced translation efforts, recruiting international users to adapt our interface into local languages, everything from German and Italian to Thai and Chinese. (Amazingly, translations were volunteer-driven – motivated by love of the technology and a liberal helping of swag, i.e. stickers, t-shirts and cuddly stuffed animals inspired by our owl logo.)

Online efforts were supplemented by old-fashioned face-to-face events. In emerging markets, the community team helped users organize hundreds of free meetups (branded as “HootUps”), where people could get together and trade Hootsuite tips. Ultimately, a network of hundreds of volunteer “ambassadors” around the world took shape, enthusiastic users who spread the word about Hootsuite in their countries. Many of these ambassadors, not surprisingly, were bloggers, consultants and marketers who just so happened to have large online audiences of their own.

Cumulatively, these projects gave us entree into new markets, initiating the viral chain of adoption in other countries and spreading Hootsuite far beyond its original North American user base.

via Two Lean Startup Hacks to Get Millions of New Customers | Ryan Holmes | LinkedIn.

Three Million In Three Years: The Insider Interview on How HootSuite Grew To Three Million Users in Three Years Flat | Laura Roeder

Three Million In Three Years: The Insider Interview on How HootSuite Grew To Three Million Users in Three Years Flat | Laura Roeder

Crowdsourced Translation Fuels HootSuite’s International Expansion

Crowdsourced Translation Fuels HootSuite’s International Expansion

Common Sense Advisory Blogs
Crowdsourced Translation Fuels HootSuite’s International Expansion

Posted by Nataly Kelly on April 27, 2011




Globally speaking, HootSuite is on the move. We previously profiled its crowdsourced translation environment – along with 103 others – in a report on how organizations are harnessing the talent of linguistically diverse online communities. The company is making several announcements this week about enhanced access for users who speak different languages and reside in different parts of the planet. We spoke with HootSuite’s Marketing Director, Dave Olson (@daveohoots) to learn more.
Yesterday, HootSuite heralded the arrival of the Spanish version of its web dashboard with a bilingual blog post.  The company also released an infographic depicting usage in numerous parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

Source: HootSuite (Click here to see the full infographic)

Why did HootSuite choose crowdsourcing over conventional translation methods?  “We did try them,” Olson explains, “but HootSuite includes a lot of specialized social media-specific vocabulary which our users understand best since they use and talk about the tool with their local friends and colleagues. We think this real-world knowledge provides the best translations.”

According to Olson, the crowdsourced translation project was launched in August 2010, and the company quickly saw traction in Spanish for localization of the mobile platforms.  However, major movement did not begin with the Spanish version of their web platform until they hired a Spanish-speaking employee to rally the troops and ensure progress. Our report discussed the fact that HootSuite is doing some unique things with crowdsourced translation – for example, they allow users not only to suggest languages for crowdsourcing, but to actually vote on which languages to do next.

HootSuite’s crowdsourced translation work also has broader social importance. As Olson points out: “Before we had the translation tool built, our iPhone developer (@richerd) noticed that someone wanted an Arabic version and offered to translate it. Richerd programmed the right-to-left display and worked around some unique pluralization conventions and we released the first localized dashboard for Arabic. Months later, when the crisis in Egypt erupted, our tool was a huge help to people on the ground.” As we noted in a previous post, crowdsourced translation is what enabled social media to play such an important role in Egypt.

Olson shared another compelling example. Shortly after HootSuite released the translation tool, the company was contacted by a group in Wales that wanted to work on the translation as part of a special day to preserve the Welsh language.  “They didn’t make too much progress, but the idea of combining this traditional language with modern technology was inspiring to us,” he said, adding that the long Welsh words were tough on the product layout.

The power of technology to breathe new life into endangered languages is a phenomenon we’ve been writing about for years, most recently in our discussions with Google and Microsoft in the run-up to International Mother Language Day and in a longer interview with David Harrison.

HootSuite’s announcement shows that high-tech giants aren’t the only ones making a significant difference in the lives of underserved linguistic communities.

HootSuite: A software-as-a-service success story via The Next Web

Source: HootSuite: A software-as-a-service success story By Mike Vardy,  July 6, 2011

HootSuite may just be a Twitter client to some, but there’s no denying that its software-as-a-service model as served it and its users well.

Earlier this week, The Next Web covered HootSuite’s achievement of reaching the 2 million user milestone. Considering that the Vancouver-based company has stood the test of time while other social media and Twitter clients have either sold out or bowed out, this is a remarkable accomplishment. But there’s a lot more to HootSuite’s success than just being a great Twitter client; HootSuite’s rise is a testament to how a great idea that stays the course can reach great heights. And the heights it has reached compares with that of some pretty stellar companies that are also part of the software-as-a-service/freemium business realm.

HootSuite has seen growth to date that is on a similar trajectory to the widely popular Evernote, Yammer and Dropbox. The data below outlining Evernote’s, Yammer’s and HootSuite’s rise to 2 million users illustrates that there is significant market success of SaaS tools and Freemium business models.


Evernote and Dropbox have continued to grow rapidly after the 2 million user mark, and HootSutie shows definite signs of trending in the same manner. International growth is a key contributor to HootSuite’s user base, having sped this via community building, outreach and crowd-sourced translation.

HootSuite’s reach and trends (courtesy of Alexa) also rank with that of the aforementioned companies, as well as Dropbox and SalesForce, other examples of business using the SaaS and Freemium models:

Also worth noting is the relative growth rate of users on each of these services:

HootSuite beta Launch: December 2009
HootSuite 1 Million: November 2010
HootSuite 2 Million: June 2011

Evernote Launch: June 2008
Evernote 1 Million: May 2009
Evernote 2 Million: December 2009

Yammer Launch: September 2008
Yammer 1 Million: July 2010
Yammer 2 Million: Feb 2011

Dropbox Launch: April 2008
Dropbox 1 Million: May 2009
Dropbox 2 Million: Sept 2009

While the data clearly shows that SaaS and Freemium models are fast becoming a widely used solution for many users, it also foreshadows something for HootSuite in particular: it may be the only third-party social media client left standing in the future because of how it has done — and continues to do — business.

“MovieSet traffic on the up and up” – Techvibes Blog

MovieSet traffic on the up and up – Techvibes Blog

Vancouver’s Uncleweed Dave Olson left Raincity Studios in early January to join Vancouver movie maker and fan website MovieSet.

Earlier today he tweeted about the month-over-month growth if MovieSet.com – “Not too shabby for a poet”.

Movieset: Month to Month Growth “…not too shabby for a poet”

“Month to month growth: 40,000 > 136,097 > 309,743 > 369,124 not too shabby for a poet”