Laura Roeder is founder and CEO of MeetEdgar, a social media marketing app that writes and schedules posts for you and tests to see which posts work best. Laura also coaches entrepreneurs, blogs about building startups and remote teams, and is building a new product for coaches, Paperbell.
This AMA ran live on May 13, 2020.
What are the biggest challenges in building a product around platforms you don’t control?
There are so many challenges, I think the most frustrating one is disappointed customers when they want something we just can’t build.
Customers don’t know what we have access to and what we don’t, and assume we just have access to everything. Analytics is one example - Facebook gives us extremely limited data about page/post performance. We enhance the data by using our own click tracking, but customers assume that we have everything they can see natively in Facebook, and it can feel frustrating when we don’t.
When does automation interfere with creative design?
Well your example is really the only one I can think of! And honestly I only see that kind of "puzzle feed" when brands first launch, not for ongoing posts. I don't see automation and creativity as mutually exclusive. Automation allows you to use your time and energy creating excellent content instead of spending time on the logistics of getting it posted.
If you had to pick between email marketing and social marketing, which would you choose and why?
Email marketing, because you own your list.
Unfortunately social media accounts can and do get shut down. (In fact as I’m writing this I’m working on getting the instagram account I just set up for Paperbell re-enabled - have absolutely no idea why it was shut down!)
You can build up 500k likes on Facebook and they can remove that page tomorrow. With emails you have access to the raw data.
Email and social media marketing are wonderful complements to each other, but if I had only one: email.
Why doesn’t MeetEdgar include a free plan?
Short answer: because we're bootstrapped ;)
It's something we are constantly re-evaluating, and in fact we are launching some easier entry points for Edgar later this year.
We have always been a tool for small businesses, not personal use or hobby use. A free plan for a social tool really opens you up way beyond our core customer base. So we have to balance making sure people have a way to learn about our tool with making sure the access points make business sense for our company.
What thing are most companies doing incorrectly with their social media marketing?
The most common thing I see is inconsistency and "going dark". Social media is a LOT to keep up with. Many of our customers are solopreneurs, and trying to keep up with all the different platforms is crazy-making. Many people decide they're finally going to get organised on social and will post for a while then burn out (MeetEdgar solves this problem for the record!)
Actually just this morning I saw a tweet where someone was looking for a business and I replied with a recommendation - but that business hadn't tweeted in several years. It made me unsure if I should tag them as I didn't know if they would see it. Also dead accounts can make people question if you're even still in business.
I always tell businesses that if they just used MeetEdgar to post something from their content library (usually an evergreen blog post) once a day, every day, they would be WAY ahead of most businesses. And spend a little bit of time each week checking in and replying. That's truly all you need to do to get a basic strategy up and running.
What's changed about social media since you started MeetEdgar, and does that make automation more or less needed?
Lots of the logistical details of how things are done have changed, but the core principles of spreading content and connecting with your audience have remained the same.
I don’t believe there will ever be LESS channels or the channels will ever be LESS busy. Social media will continue to grow and grow. So automation will always be a huge need if an entrepreneur hopes to have any shot of keeping up.
What SaaS tools are most important for your business?
Boring answer but slack is our command central. Slack is not an always-on tool for us, it's how our team conveys they are in-office and working. Which means we have a no slack on your phone rule - slack is for when you're 100% present and engaged with work.
What inspired you to build a tool for coaches?
It was a very classic scratching my own itch story. (Which is why I started MeetEdgar as well.) When I stepped out of the day to day at MeetEdgar I started doing some business coaching, but it was a casual side hustle so I just wanted one simple tool to manage the business - getting set up with clients, getting paid, getting sessions on the calendar. I could not find a solution that worked, so I made one! (paperbell.io)
The biggest thing that's broken is connecting payment to scheduling. The current workflow for most coaches and consultants has payments and appointments as completely separate functions, which means you end up in situations where you've already provided a service that you're still waiting on payment for, or having no idea who has paid for what.
What did you think when Twitter and Facebook started adding native scheduling?
Actually this was not A Thing. The functionality has always sucked and we rarely hear about people using them. Occasionally for FB pages, but I have literally never heard of anyone using native scheduling on twitter!
Some changes the social networks have made have messed with us, but this was not one of them.
Scheduling a single post for a specific date and time is such a tiny part of what we do.
Why did you build MeetEdgar as a remote team?
I’ve moved every few years or nomad-ed for the past 10 years so honestly in-person wasn’t something I really considered. I wasn’t going to build a company in a city I wasn’t committed to.
We have always been 100% remote with zero in-person offices. So we’ve never had to figure out how to do something remote, that’s just always been the default. Of course now that everyone is forced to be remote our team is in a strong position as we know how to thrive this way.
We've shared a lot of our best practices for running entirely remote at https://www.notion.so/MeetEdgar-Company-Handbook-a7da439ca73848cea846fe831eb3fbc4
How did you decide to build MeetEdgar versus any other business idea?
Well I've perused a bunch of other business ideas to various stages :) So Edgar wasn't the only one. Before I launched Edgar I was teaching social media classes and taught a class that taught people how to do manually what Edgar does for you automatically.
(We've updated the class and you can still take it at https://edgar-university.teachable.com/p/social-brilliant)
People were paying for the class and actually implementing the strategy, so it seemed reasonable that they would pay for software to have it done for them. That guess turned out to be correct :)
What is the hardest challenge of working remotely—and how has your team solved it?
The biggest challenge is the lack of organic "hallway" conversations. At first it sounds great for all communication to be very focused and "on point", but you miss out on some interesting new ideas - plus the social side of getting to know people.
Our team is less than 15 people, if we were in person everyone on the team would know each other very well, but because we're remote some roles don't have a ton of natural opportunities to connect. So we've created those opportunities. One thing we do is "lightning lunches" where one person educates the team about what they do, as well as a general chat opportunity. Again if we were in person we'd be overhearing each other's work and meetings, but that doesn't happen as naturally if you're remote.
So on the lightning lunch you might learn about how our head of finance thinks about projects and cash runway, how she determines those strategies for our company. We pay for lunch for anyone who attends as a little bonus encouragement. It's a great way to get to know each other and learn more about everything that happens at the company.
Has Twitter’s algorithmic feed made it less necessary to re-share content over time?
No. Even though twitter's feed is no longer strictly chronological, it still only shows recent content at the top. All the networks require a steady stream of content if you want to be seen, none of the tools mine through your timeline for the best content from the past.
How do you decide which new features to add to MeetEdgar?
We're constantly talking about, and watching, what our customers are doing on social media (and with their online marketing in general). We're talking about what they value, what's working, what we think they're going to be spending more time on next year. Basically we try to stay very closely in step with our customers to build the tool that they want now, and will want next year.
What does your team struggle with the most?
Hmm interesting question and a difficult one to answer. I think the eternal struggle is always which path to take, which thing is most important to work on next.
We're now almost 6 years old with thousands of customers, and the list of things to work on and problems to solve is endless. It's a constant battle of balancing projects that could make a bigger impact with smaller things that would retain or improve things for smaller groups of existing customers.
Is social more impactful for traffic than email and SEO?
Not inherently. Email, seo and social are all effective for driving traffic, how much completely depends on your strategy. At MeetEdgar we use all three :) And they all play into each other.