Growth through content

Too often, companies rely on paid user acquisition and tricks to grow their apps, services or games, while neglecting to consider growth in their content (e.g., blog posts, infographics) creation. There was recently a great blog post by Kissmetrics that discussed how to growth hack your content, so that these efforts contribute to your growth. I recommend you read the post but will summarize the key points.

To become a “content hacker,” as Kissmetrics calls it, there are five key tactics:Slide1

  • Create great headlines.The headline is the most important part of your post or content. To create a powerful headline, you do not want to give away your full post, nor do you want to give it away in the shared image or text. You also do not want to be negative or shrill (who wants to read a depressing post). Also, do not try to be too clever.
  • Make your content more shareable. You need to make it easy to share your headline and content with the world, and not with just the usual share buttons. Some of the tools they suggest include Markerly, a simple sharing widget that automatically makes images or highlighted text shareable on your site. This plug-in
    can be added to any site with some simple JavaScript code. Another option is adding Click to Tweet calls-to-action in your post. Continue reading

What is machine learning and why it is crucially important

A few weeks ago, I posed a question on Quora about the differences between machine learning and predictive analytics. I was surprised at the number of people who started following the question and actually liked it (although it sounded rhetorical, I was hoping to understand machine learning better). A recent article in Fast Company about The New York Times, of all companies, did a great job of explaining the fundamental value of machine learning.

My interest in machine learning was ignited recently as it has become the hot buzzword in the Bay Area; some have argued if you add machine learning to your PowerPoint you can add a zero to the end your company’s valuation. While that claim is obviously an exaggeration, investors are among the savviest businessmen, so their interest in machine learning shows it is a crucial emerging space.

The article discusses Chris Wiggins, a biologist The New York Times just hired as its Chief Data Scientist. Wiggins’ mandate is to build and lead the Times’ machine learning team. In Fast Company’s interview with Wiggins, it became clear exactly what machine learning is, how it is different than predictive analytics and why it is important.

What is machine learning

According to Wiggins, “Machine learning sits at the intersection of data engineering and mathematical modeling. The thing that makes it different from statistics traditionally, is far more focus on building algorithms.”

University of Utah image for machine learning

Also, while statistics is traditionally focused on explaining data, machine learning is geared to building predictive models. When Netflix or Amazon make product recommendations to you, they are using machine learning to predict what you would be interesting in experiencing. Continue reading