Growing a Community with Video & Facebook, Nick Pettit Interview

Nick Pettit

How do you build a community for your business, blog or startup?

Recently at FOWA London I got to meet Nick Petit – from Treehouse. Nick shares some really hot tips on using social media to grow your audience into a thriving community.

In this interview you will learn:

  • Why video is so effective for building a community
  • How to use Facebook Pages effectively
  • Why Facebook Groups is such a powerful way to build a community (I never knew this)
  • What Twitter ninja tricks you can use

Check it out:


Nick on Twitter


Growing a Community with Video & Facebook, Nick Pettit Interview

Howard: Hi everyone, Howard from here. I’m here at “Future of Web Apps” and a very special guest to chat to, Nick Pettit.

Nick: I don’t know I was such special guest but, alright. Thank you for the introduction.

Howard: And Nick’s part of the team at Treehouse and he’s called to be an expert at building a community using video, and we’re gonna chat about that. So, Nick, yeah, how’s it going?

Nick: It’s going pretty well, just rocking at Treehouse with Ryan Carson and friends. We produce video tutorials for web designers and web developers and we also recently added iOS tutorials which are…

Howard: Sweet!

Nick: Yeah, people seem to be loving it, which is great. Treehouse is actually not launched yet. Treehouse is the major rebranding or reimagining of ‘think vitamin membership’ which is live right now [you know]. You can sign up for that right now and It’ll [you know] be a lot of the same content to treehouse but treehouse is gonna add a lot of cool stuff like quizzes and badges that you can earn and cool little word videos here and there and it’ll launches on November 7th. So we’re supper excited about it and you can check it all out at right now.

Howard:, so if you are a developer and you’re interested in learning more, that is the place to go. It sounds really [really] cool. And you, over the past, you’ve built up really strong communities using video. How is web video a really effective way to build a community?

Nick: Videos is just such a powerful way to communicate with your users or [you know]with your community. Because when people see your face it really has a powerful psychological effect. When people see a smiling face [you know] instead of maybe just like a screencast by itself, it really can add a lot of [you know] communicative for emotional power that just wouldn’t be there otherwise with just a static site or a blog.

I mean, it’s also great for people that don’t feel like they’re really [you know] real good at writing. I know, like Gary Vaynerchuk felt like he missed the whole blogging thing just because he feels like he can’t write that well and so he’s like, you know, “Ah I’ll video blog and start it.” but then he’s like “I can do that.” So, it’s you know in terms of building community it’s just a more intimate way of interacting with people.

Howard: Sure! Awesome [awesome]! and you were mentioning you’re doing some cool things with the Facebook groups and that’s the way you can further as well as [getting] putting in the initial video [tell us] talk about some ways you can further engage the community.

Nick: Yeah, so Facebook pages and Facebook groups are really interesting. They’re very different animals. With pages, if you have like a pre-existing page that’s already really popular I think that you should try to use that in combination with Twitter.

Because, Facebook pages and Twitter by themselves are pretty powerful but when they’re use together it gets really awesome. [Because you can] it’s sort of difficult to have a conversation with your community on Twitter because it’s really just you talking to everybody else unless people are following a hash tag or something. But if you want your community to talk to one another and really engage with one another about a topic you can post a discussion question on your Facebook page and then if you click, I think it’s like you know the status or like when you posted it, there’s a little link where you can actually link to that specific discussion question. You can tweet that out and say [you know], “What do you think about this? Join our discussion on Facebook.”, or ,“Discuss with us on Facebook.” And then that would bring people to your Facebook page and [you know] they can talk to talk amongst themselves or sort of like give their opinion and then see what everyone else said as well so that’s really cool. So that’s Facebook pages.

Facebook groups are [you know] if I was creating either a page or group today I would definitely go for group because groups are just [you know] so much more conducive to community members talking to one another because it comes up in their feeds and everything.

Howard: More so than pages?

Nick: Yeah, at least that’s what we found with our Treehouse group which has been amazingly active which we haven’t seen with pages as much. It’s more us posting a discussion question and then people talk about it were as with groups it’s a lot more people [you know] asking for feedback about their app or asking specific questions to other community members so, yeah.

Howard: Why do you think that is? Is it part of the way the groups work or…

Nick: We’re still trying to figure that out. I think it is because when people comment in groups or [you know] they liked your comment in a group or they [you know] mentioned you or post a comment on like one of your post on a group it comes up as a notification in Facebook and it will also come up in their feed. I think a lot more so than pages cause I know pages do come up in the feed but I’m not sure what the exact.

Howard: Yeah, there is some…

Nick: Algorithm is there.

Howard: Yeah yeah. I know exactly what you mean.

Nick: But, yeah, we’ve seen a lot more activity on groups.

Howard: Ok, so to that point would you do the Twitter tactic you were talking about you know like posting out a question and ask to join them in would you the same on groups?

Nick: You could but we found out that you don’t even need to.

Howard: Don’t need to. Right, cool.

Nick: I mean posting a question like that and then twitting about it is really more so to get people to start interacting or talking about something and just [you know]maintaining brand awareness whereas with a group that really happens all on its own which is a lot better because it’s a lot [you know]more natural for people.

Howard: Awesome! So somebody who has a startup, they got a page maybe they already have a lot of followers. Would you recommend them to startup a group as well?

Nick: Yeah, I think that you know if they don’t have like thousands or tens of thousands of followers or something on their Facebook page or any [you know] most people don’t. I think it’s worth making the transition into a group.

Howard: Really? Wow, that’s really interesting, yeah.

Nick: Because the interaction is just enough to sort of merit the for the future.

Howard: Yeah, that’s really [really] interesting. And going back to Twitter, [do you have] how did you find building the community on that? Is it all about just putting content on your driving instrument or do you have another way or ninja ways on doing that?

Nick: Yeah, I mean Twitter is really about [you know] just, I guess, thought leadership and also [you know] communicating with your followers [you know] really like getting their opinions about things or getting their feedback. We actually just lunch a sort of a little bit of a social game for the launch of treehouse.

Howard: Okay.

Nick: [And our initial idea for] we’re just trying to have some fun with the launch [you know] and I think we went about it [you know] a little bit half hazzardly because basically like [you know], “Twit with this hash tag and this link and we’ll start [you know] unlocking this cool like videos and sneak previews of treehouse…” and people reacted terribly to that. Because people…

Howard: Really?

Nick: Yeah, [because] well, people said that [you know], “I don’t wanna like promote your product for you and [you know] all those stuff.” And in _____ it really made a lot of sense. We’re really like, “Wow, you guys were right. That was actually a terrible idea.” And so [you know] it was really all about us pivoting and taking that feedback and we realize [you know what] really all we want to do is make treehouse the best way to learn web design and web development and we’d be no where without our members.

And so rather than let them twit about us to other people we had them twit at us and so @reply on treehouse on Twitter with you know your new ideas for a new feature or topics that you’d like to learn about from us then you know that would start unlocking rewards and you know people reacted much better to that and it made so much more sense.

Howard: So interesting. Such a good idea.

Nick: Yeah, so yeah it’s really about us listening [you know] you need to have big ears with a small mouth.

Howard: Yeah, that is really great Facebook and Twitter tips there and well I know you got to jump back to the conference. So just one last one before we let you go.

Nick: Sure!

Howard: Startup just pretty much getting started and they want to start building a community. What’s your number 1 kinda thing they should do today to start building that?

Nick: Really [you know]consider video as a tool to communicate. It’s not just all Twitter and Facebook [you know] text is great. Well written copy is essential, but having [you know] a really good video or just communicating with your users through video is really personal way to get to them and I think a video isn’t being utilize to its full potential by a lot of startups.

Howard: Sure, okay.

Nick: So I would say like consider video as your number one marketing tool, yeah.

Howard: Cool! You heard it here. Well, thanks very much, Nick. Let’s get back to the conference now. We had Nick Pettit here and of course you should check out more Nick on or

Nick: It’s


Nick: We really want but it’s for now. Yup!

Howard: Okay, awesome. Thanks very much, guys. See you soon.

Nick: See yah!


How to Build a Business from Vision to Exit, Guy Rigby Interview

vision to exit

How do you build a business from vision to exit?

 Recently I got the opportunity to connect with Guy Rigby, author of Vision to Exit: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building & Selling a Business.

In this interview you will learn:

  • Why you have decide what type of business you want – before you start
  • How to establish if your business is scaleable
  • What the critical success factors are for your business in the first 3 years
  • The common traits between the entrepreneurs who ‘make it’ and don’t
  • Why, if it’s not broken – you should break it!

 Check out the interview here:

Buy the Book: From Vision to Exitvision to exit

Connect with Guy on Twitter

Guys Book:

NOW That’s What I Call Advertising 2.0!

Believe the hype
Believe the hype

Let me see your white teeth first. Photo: Martin Brandt








Remember the last time you watched a TV ad and said to yourself: What the hell was the point of that?

You know the ones I mean: lame branding ad, a couple looking miserable until they come across this new [insert rubbish product]. Their eyes meet, they reveal their pearly white teeth with a smile, queue the cheesie music and they’re instantly their having a great time.

Still not remember? Let me jog your memory:

 These type of ads suck for a number of reasons. The biggest being: Hype

Why do these ads suck so bad?

  1. After 30 years of hearing marketing hype all around us, we’ve become immune to it. Not every product in the world can be the best. Now we just don’t believe it
  2. Same formula every time: Seriously – try something different
  3. Marketers assume the lowest denominator when it comes to peoples intelligence

Whenever any industry flock to one style of messaging, there is opportunities at the opposite pole.

Enter Adam Lisagor

Adam Lisagor is a new breed of marketer – who is effectively marketing people’s products by doing very little marketing at all.

Yep, that’s right. No hype. No bells. No cheesie background music. All Invention.

He creates video advertising for some of the most successful startups in the world – and they work.  Adam chooses one element of the product and creates a real story around it – free of any marketing hype. He just tells it as it is and because we’re so unused to this approach, We believe him!

Watch this video. I defy you to tell me you don’t want that app at the end of it

Want more? Of course you do. Check out more of Adam’s videos:

Groupon Now


What we can learn from Adam

  1. In the world when minimalist is in vogue (fixie bike anyone?) – it makes sense that smart marketers should follow suit
  2. Choose one element of the product and invent a story about that. Try and communicate too many features and you’ve lost us
  3. Choosing the same formula – if there’s an industry standard, do the opposite and you’ll standout
  4. Respect people’s intelligence – people are smart, they’ll thank you for having faith in their intelligence
  5. Hype is so the eighties, nineties & noughties. Story is the new hype

Your Turn: See any great video ads? Share them with us in the comments below

Marketing Metrics Mastery, Dan Martell Interview

Dan martell FOWA

Dan martell FOWA






What is the most important element of marketing that most business just don’t concentrate on?

Last week at FOWA London, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my entrepreneurial heroes: Dan Martell from Flowtown. I see Dan as one of the leading marketers in the world – (crazy considering he has an engineering background).

Why is he a hero of mine? Because everything he does is based in metrics – which is the ability to track the performance of all marketing campaigns you do. Forget ‘awareness’ and ‘brand building’ – for me, this is the single most important and effective way to market any business - because you know exactly what’s working and what’s not. And Dan’s the master of it.

In this interview you will learn:

  • Why Metrics are so important to your startup
  • What tools you should be using right now
  • How to come up with an idea for a startup
  • What the fastest way to validate you idea is
  • How to find your MVP
  • How a Canadian dude can make complete sense after just 2 hours sleep (maximum respect!!)
Check it out:

 Find out more about Dan:

Maple butter


Your Turn: What part of marketing do you feel is the most important?

Leave your comments below

How to Best Optimize your Website? with Optimizely’s Pete Koomen

Pete Koomen

How do you know if your website is designed in the best way for your customers? What are visitors to your site not doing? What do you want them to do?

In this interview, recorded at Future of Web Apps London 2011,  I caught up with Pete Koomen co-founder of Optimizely, a market leader in website optimisation software, and discussed how to optimise your website so visitors will click where you want them to.

In this interview you will learn:

  • What is A/B testing?
  • The first test you should do for your startup
  • How to get started with optimising your site using A/B testing?
  • Where you can find the lowest hanging fruit to optimise
  • Some examples of what you should try to optimise first

 Check it out:



 Your Turn: Have you tried optimising your website before? How did it go? 

Leave your comments below:

The Art of the Personal Pivot

Personal pivot
Personal pivot

Stop: Hammer time!







What do you when you’re not 100% happy what you’re doing with your life?

I sat reflecting what I’d just done. The fact I hadn’t had the heart to tell me family yet, stands for the fact that it wasn’t a frivolous decision. I took a bite of my cinnamon swirl (the eternal comfort), downed my strong espresso and signed the letter the letter that would seal my fate. I dropped the letter into the green letterbox (I was in Ireland after all) as I walked by, and looked up to the Departures board:

 Kuala Lumpur: 18: 25

Yep that’s me, better go board the plane.

It was exactly one year ago today that I wrote that letter to the head of my PhD course, formally ‘resigning’. It was a prestigious research position that I had worked hard to get the previous year. Hey –  isn’t getting paid a full time wage to go to be a student everybody’s dream?

Yet 9 months and way too many academic papers later I had just quit. So, although the university was great, and I had the world’s greatest supervisor (no man has ever had to correct so many typos), I was unmotivated, uninspired and the thought of another 3 years of a PhD just made me think it stood for: Pretty heart Destroying

So my career outlook said: Academia – my soul was shouting: ENTREPRENEURSHIP!!!! Something had to change – I had a difficult decision to make. And I made it by quitting and jumping on a plane to Australia.

1 year later

A year to the day I boarded that plane, I have just finished my first week working in what I can only call my dream job: Marketing Manager of an Online Soccer Game. They’re a funded, kick-ass startup, with inspirational management in an area which is high risk but has potential for huge growth – it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

In that year I had achieved my ultimate Personal Pivot – and I’ll share how you can do it too.

There are times in our lives that we go in directions that, although initially seemed sensible, we discover are not right for us. How do you know? You just do – it starts with a niggling feeling at the back of your mind, grows into more regular reminders and eventually it dominates your thoughts. You usually can tell by how you describe these things to friends and family – unless you’re describing your work/hobby/relationship with a raw, infectious passion – it’s probably time to pivot.

But what is a Pivot?

In his fantastic book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries coined one of the most used words in modern day entrepreneurship: To Pivot. (BTW Eric is also one of the few authors who’s a legend BEFORE his book was even released – if you’re in anyway interested in entrepreneurship, I highly recommend you check both his book and his blog out).

To Pivot is change one’s approach based on some clear intelligence, read more about it here. In startup world ‘intelligence’ usually means data.

For our personal lives we have our gut.

How can I Personally Pivot?

Here’s how I personally pivoted from a place where I was in a place I didn’t want to be, and now I do want to be.

1.  Correct goals/roadmap

You’ve got goals right?  Not in your head, but specific ones you have written down and you refer to it regularly. Without creating this map of where you want to be – how can you possibly expect to get there?

There are an untold number of places that can tell you how to set goals correctly; I’ve found this to be the most complete and beneficial of them.

Do not pass go until you’ve this completed. See my goals here

2.  Re-read your Goals regularly

Once you’ve created these goals – reread theme regularly. I see this mentioned in many legendary books but I always wondered why. For me, the reason is it teaches your subconscious where you want to go. Which leads us nicely to……..

3.  Trust your subconscious (aka ‘gut’)

Once you have these above two, if there’s anything in your life that’s not aligned with your goals – you’ll know it. This is where gut feelings come in.

For me, it starts with a gut feel, then it begins to transfer to my mind telling me more and more vocally that things aren’t right. If I haven’t acted on it by this point it builds into a loop playing over in my mind. There’s no hiding from it.

Derek Sivers has a ‘scientific methodology’ to help you judge what you gut says. Quite simply everything you do either make you feel ‘FUCK YEAH’ or no. If you’re not feeling FUCK YEAH about your idea/work/relationship/whatever, why are you doing it?

If there’s one principle that I try to follow to make decisions in my life, it’s this one. See more about it here:

Hell Yeah or No from Derek Sivers on Vimeo.

 4.  Become Manically Obsessed (interchangeable with no.5)

Focus on being the best you can possibly be in your area – read, learn and study. One of the fears when changing anything is that we’ll suck at it as it’s new to us – this applies to everything from a new job to dating. Do whatever it takes to overcome the initial period of change by jumping into it and failing as fast as you can.

You’ve got to make the mistakes before you realise how to succeed, so you can either do that slowly of fast. I call this leaning into change. Don’t be passive. Be proactive, fail fast and learn quickly.

Learn, try, change, and gather feedback. Eric Ries calls this iterating.

When I set down in Australia I decided I was going to be a MASTER of online marketing – so when I was involved in startups I could bring real value. I read books, watched videos, bought courses, listen to audio books (I still do) – become manically obsessed with it!

5.  Make the difficult decision

Yep this is the hardest bit: Quit the job/drop the idea/lose the relationship.

With every pivot, there is invariably a difficult decision to make. Although all the decisions I made were difficulty and I had fear and doubts in the lead up to doing them, not once have I looked back and regretted the decision.

Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about making yours.

 6.  Take actions

If you’re hoping I’m going to tell you some secret tip how you can achieve your perfect pivot, I’ve bad news for you. There aint no short cuts.

It’s going to take some of the most difficult decisions you can make (you know those ones in your mind you’ve been putting off – yeah those).

It’s going to take time

It’s going to take hard work

There’ll be lows

But you’ll get there. And once you’re 150% committed to making it happen, it’s the very trying to get there that is the fun part. It’s totally worth it.

Will I have more future pivots? Sure. There are plenty more pivots and iterations to come, but as long as I’ve a healthy supply of cinnamon swirls, I’m ready for them.

You Turn:

Have you done a personal pivot before? How do you recommend others achieve theirs? Leave your thoughts in the comments below: