The bell

Jeff Bezos loves to tell the story of the bell that rang in the Amazon office every time they made a sale.  Of course, after a while it began ringing so often that they had to turn it off.  The important thing was that the bell served as a constant reminder to the entire team of what they were trying to accomplish.  The bell unified the team behind one goal and gave them an obvious way of knowing how they were doing.

I was late to the party in understanding the power of the bell.  I’ve since been eager to catch up and install some modern-day bells for EventVue.

Earlier this year we started sending out nightly metrics emails to everyone in our company along with some of our close mentors and investors.  This email includes key metrics like how many people signed in that day, how many people used Discover, how many people shared with friends, etc.  Recently we took it one step further and started publishing real-time updates into the Socialcast community that our company uses for internal communication.  We publish stories as people use our products and reach meaningful milestones like inviting their friends to join them at an event.

The result is quite powerful.  It helps us really feel what’s happening in addition to seeing the cold, hard numbers each night.

Of course, there are a lot of different ways you could accomplish the same goal, but building on top of the Socialcast API has given us a few unique benefits:

  • Our bell can be heard anywhere we have an internet connection.
  • We don’t have to change our behavior.  We’re already using Socialcast every day.
  • Everyone has their own volume control.  The stream can get noisy, but Socialcast makes it easy to filter.
  • We can search, filter and catch up later if we miss anything.

If you haven’t installed a bell in your office yet, why not give it a shot?  You’ll find yourself encouraged by some things and discouraged by others.  One thing is for sure:  you’ll learn more about your users as a result.  And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about

  • John Bidder

    Hi – we’re building a sharepoint web part for socialcast – I head up business comms in local govt here in UK. Would love to see a screen grab of your api useage and hear about any tips you found worked well for socialcast adoption.
    Thanks

    • There's not much for me to show, but API is super simple. I got our integration up and running in less than 10 minutes. I recommend you just dive in and try it out.

  • Chris

    Would you be up for sharing your code behind the bell? We use socialcast also and currently only display an image of a bell. Thanks.

    • Sure, in PHP it looks like this. It's just a simple REST call:

      function post_to_socialcast($message, $url = false) {
      $socialcast_url = "https://SHORTCODE.socialcast.com/api/messages.json";
      $message = "message[title]=".$message;
      // link this message?
      $message .= ($url) ? "&message[url]=".$url : "";

      // curl options
      $options[CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER] = 0; // important
      $options[CURLOPT_USERPWD] = "EMAIL:PASSWORD";
      $options[CURLOPT_POST] = 1;
      $options[CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS] = $message;

      single_curl($socialcast_url, false, $options);
      }

      Obviously you need to replace SHORTCODE, EMAIL and PASSWORD with your own values. This code uses my curl library that you can find at: http://www.onlineaspect.com/2009/01/26/how-to-use

      Hope that helps. Feel free to email me if you need more.

  • This sounds interesting. We could use something like this as well, I'm going to check it out. Thanks for the info.

  • Good post Josh. Our team is very pro-data sharing. I'm curious about something: Why did you guys go with socialcast for team data sharing (as opposed to Yammer)? We're on Yammer, and at first glance, SocialCast looks more powerful

    • I haven't done a thorough comparison of Yammer to Socialcast, but I know we tried Yammer first and didn't really like it. Perhaps someone else can chip in w/ a better comparison, but here are a few of the main things I love about Socialcast:
      – The have a really great attention to detail in their UI
      – You have lots of options for clients (web, desktop, iphone)
      – Their API rocks