A Postmortem on a Project.
At the end of the life cycle of any project, whether it’s a success, or a, well, not-so-success (we don’t use the “F” word here), it’s vital that you sit down, and take stock of what went right and what went not-so-right.
We’ve made it a priority here at DTE to make sure we do this on every thing we do, big or small, show or marketing initiative, because we learn from what works, and we learn even more from what doesn’t.
I thought I’d give you an example of a PM in today’s blog:
4 years ago, at the start of the social network craze, I launched a brand new social networking website called BroadwaySpace, built on an “off-the-shelf” Ning platform. The site took off, powered by great content like “Broadway’s 50 Most Powerful People” and “30 Under 30” as well as contests like “Broadway’s Next Big Star”. The site was even featured in Social Media Marketing for Dummies! (which is another great primer for those looking to learn more about this subject, by the way)
But a year or so ago, we started seeing traffic fall. We tried a bunch of things to keep the traffic up in the air, but nothing seemed to take root. So, recently we had to make the difficult decision to transition the site to something else. It’s always hard to see something you’ve worked on sputter, but as Seth Godin wrote about in this fantastic read, as a business person (which includes all of us Producers), you’ve got to know when to move on to something else.
So what happened? Well, that’s what Postmortems are all about, and here are four of the reasons my team and I came up with this AM when we discussed why BroadwaySpace didn’t become what we wanted it to become.
1. What’s in a name?
MySpace was the rage in 2007. And now it’s the butt of business jokes. We made the mistake of trying to attach ourselves to someone else’s brand instead of creating our own when we named our site BroadwaySpace. Going forward I know that I’d rather fail by being myself, then fail trying to be someone else. We never anticipated that MySpace wouldn’t even be relevant X years later. Ironically, a lot of people don’t even understand why we called it BroadwaySpace. So what we thought would help is now irrelevant, or even hurting our brand.
2. Facebook blew the F up.
Niche social networks like ours were supposed to be the next big thing, or so I thought anyway. Why go to a department store for your social networking, when you can go to a boutique, right? Well, that’s what a whole bunch of us in this space believed . . . but one company crushed those dreams. Facebook got so good at what it did, and kept expanding and adding features, that people didn’t leave like they left MySpace and Friendster and the other social networking predecessors. Obviously this was beyond our control, but it had a major impact. People just didn’t want to interact with friends and “walls” in more than one place.
3. You’re only as good as your foundation.
As I said, our site was built on the Ning platform, which was placing a multi-million dollar bet on the niche networking future. I was friendly with the CEO (who loved Broadway musicals and is no longer with the company), we were in a group of preferred developers who helped advise them on what we wanted from the platform, we even did a testimonial. Well, they couldn’t advance as fast as Facebook, so our features were quickly outdated. Pricing changed. Response time changed. And, well, the “feel” of the company changed. The site was penetrated by spammers from all over the world, and Ning couldn’t keep them out. And because of the spam problem, Google never really gave it too much credit in their search engines. And organic search is a huge part of what makes a website work. Something tells me Ning may be having their own PM in a not-so-short period of time.
4. Consistency is the name of the game.
We had some great content, for sure, but it was a bit sporadic. We could never find a routine of proving great content every day, week, month, whatever it was. It wasn’t scheduled. I should have learned from my blog (which as you know is published at the same time, every day, seven days a week), that people want to set their watch by what you do. Be consistent, and they will come.
So we learn, we adapt, and we move on to the next project, but the postmortem is a necessary element in that process.
Because if you can’t admit you made a mistake, you can never be truly ready for success.
What’s happening to BroadwaySpace? Well, despite the way I’ve made it sound, the site still gets a great deal of traffic. And last year, we started a partnership with one of Broadway’s most popular tweeters, BroadwaySpotted, who we’ve been learning a great deal from. So, since BroadwaySpotted needed to expand, and we needed to morph, BroadwaySpace.com is becoming BroadwaySpotted.com, or as we like to call it, Broadway’s Star Magazine.
Even though we’re excusing ourselves from what we were doing before, we’re making sure that BroadwaySpotted.com picks up a lot of the content that we know people love, including ‘Broadway’s 50 Most Powerful People’, one of our most popular articles. (The new Power List went live with the debut of the new site yesterday! Check it out!)
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