We'd like to share with you one aspect of our experience of the Blipfoto crowdfunding and operations that has really surprised us - just how difficult it is to contact people. Unsurprisingly, this is very frustrating for us, and for the people we have failed to reach (who end up feeling left out). We're really sorry if you're one of the frustrated ones.
We assumed at the start that nearly all users read Blip Central - it turns out that many people don't.
We always planned to use e-mail as well, as a backup. Most of us use e-mail every day, and while the occasional e-mail might go astray, it's a pretty reliable means of communications. It turns out that when you're trying to reach thousands of people at once, it's not that reliable at all. There is a LOT that can go wrong.
From the start we have used industry-leading tools like MailChimp and SurveyMonkey to send e-mails to Blipfoto registered users and those who participated in the crowdfunding. These "trusted" platforms are supposed to make sure that our mail gets through - but they aren't 100%. Some mail systems are still blocking our messages completely (treating them as spam) or putting them into the users "junk" or "spam" folders. We also know that some of the e-mail addresses people use to log in to Blipfoto no longer work - either the e-mail account has been shut down or the user just doesn't check it any more. Some users have opted to "unsubscribe" or "block" mail from us - which we respect, but it does mean we can no longer reach them. Ever. Reaching you all by e-mail is not simple!
User engagement via facebook and twitter is fairly low - so although we do share Blip Central posts there for those who are watching, it's not a substitute for e-mail.
During the crowdfunding, we put a special banner on the site to draw users attention - and although we don't have metrics we believe this helped a lot in raising awareness of what was going on. It is something we might repeat for important news in the future, but it is a bit of a "blunt instrument".
So where do we go from here?
Here's how you can help make sure that you get important messages from Blipfoto:
Please check that the e-mail address you use to log in to Blipfoto is up to date. You can also add "firstname.lastname@example.org" to your "safe senders" list to make sure our messages don't get marked as junk.
Please follow the Blip Central journal, or visit it from time to time, so that you see posts about what is happening in the community.
We have also added a new facility so that we can push custom notifications to users (they will appear alongside notifications for stars, favourites etc). We will only use these to highlight really important posts on Blip Central, so please, if you get a notification for an important Blip Central post, click the link and read it!
Tell your friends about this post, so they know how difficult this is and how they can help!