Last week, I caught up with Ali Eslami, a recent Informatics graduate who created Keepmeout.com – a website that prevents you from checking facebook, your gmail, and any other website too often.
This is the pitch: You tell keepmeout which website you are addicted to, and what interval you should only allow yourself to check it and it provides a little link which you could use to bookmark. If you’re like me, and use the bookmark bar extensively, this tool becomes invaluable.
Ali first came up with the idea while coding in the infamous North Lab in Appleton Tower L5 [if you're an Informatics student/alum, you'll know the one] where he noticed that quite a few people were on Facebook in the labs. Since it’s hard to discipline yourself to not procrastinate check social networking sites, he came up with the idea of using bookmarks to warn you about going on certain websites too often.
So on a train journey from Oxford to Edinburgh, he managed to go through a Django tutorial, teach himself how to program in it while building KMO. When he got back up to Scotland, he realised that the website needed a designer’s touch. He called a friend – Khodor Fawaz – to help him with the branding and plan the marketing strategy for the KMO.
They came up with the design and the name and 2 weeks later, launched through a marketing campaign involving Blogs, Facebook, Emails to friends and Posters around the Inf labs. Most importantly, Ali noted the role of blogs in driving traffic to the site. His approach was to send each blog a brief description of KMO, along with a screenshot and contact details.
This strategy worked well. KMO was featured by Lifehacker [a personal favourite] and a number of smaller blogs. Not only this, but it was also tweeted around the world. The blogs (LH in particular) and Twitter drove traffic and raised awareness of KMO, but the biggest drive was from KMO being posted onto StumbleUpon.
Whilst the website got modest hit rates (Ali writes about here), he insists that the point of the exercise was to learn about social media marketing and effective methods of promoting a new web app. His advice was to submit to StumbleUpon and Digg; making sure you have a Twitter account from the start and doing your homework on the sources for the blogs you want featured.
Ali is going to be starting a PhD in machine learning with Chris Williams in Sept, and is currently working on a “secret” project. The teaser is that it will be a new take on private and anonymous discussions. It should be launched in the next few weeks so stayed tuned!