RiteKit: A Journey into Social Media Optimization
After finishing the first year of my undergraduate studies this past April, I came across RiteKit’s internship program. I was searching for an internship position that allows me to work from home, had flexible hours, and most importantly, would give me an opportunity that was related to business and marketing. As such, I signed up as a job-seeker on AngelList, a website for job-seekers looking for positions with startups.
Looking through the description of RiteKit, I learned that they do more than just hashtags. They do social media optimization by using images as well as call-to-actions. This was something that I was definitely interested in, as it will give me an insight into marketing and startups. It would also help me personally by improving my social media presence.
Afterwards, I spoke with Saul, the CEO. He asked me to read an article with interviews of ten former interns, who revealed how their RiteKit internships pretty much made their careers. I got nervous about going for this, but also got a better idea of what to expect. From the article, I learned that many past interns greatly benefit from working for RiteKit and moved on to prominent career positions. Saul replied quickly and we arranged an interview time.
During the video call, Saul was very knowledgeable and kind. He introduced himself and we discussed about startups and the goals of RiteKit. Saul also took an interest about what I wanted to get out of the internship as well. As I was telling him about what I wanted, he was able to give me two starting points: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and How to Build a Startup, an online course on Udacity by Steve Blank. At the end, Saul listed his expectations and gave me some time to think whether or not I would like the internship. I thought about the potential opportunities for growth for myself and decided to accept his offer.
Starting the internship, there were certain things we had to do initially. First, I had to learn how to use RiteKit. I learned about the trending hashtag searches, as well as the auto-enhance, automation and call-to-action functions. There were helpful tutorial videos as well as support from Saul and from interns who started before me, and all of this helped me through the process. Next, I had to come up with a Twitter handle that defined who I am and what I want to be in the future. I wanted to include my name and have something to do with business. Saul warned not to have a long twitter handle as the 140 character limit also includes your handle when others retweet your content. I came up with the Twitter handle @tran_biz.
For easy team communication, we used Slack. I had to learn to navigate the Slack system, and was soon communicating effectively within the different channels that our team has. Another cloud-based service that I mastered was Tawk.to. We used this to chat with our customers who has questions while browsing our website, and then file tickets to assign bugs and follow-ups to the most appropriate intern/staff member. These two communications services proved useful because they provided easy communication between our team members and with our customers.
Meistertask was used so that everyone can see what tasks were available, assigned, and completed. We could update our progress and tracked others’ progress and collaboration requests as well. This helped us ensure that our own tasks were getting done in a timely fashion, and that everyone else was staying on track as well.
Lastly, I had to master Twitter. RiteTag gets much of it’s hashtag analysis data from Twitter; therefore it is our main social media platform. I learned how to do auto-enhanced quoted text tweets and to use the automation feature to easily schedule posts. Another website that I used alongside Twitter was Tweetdeck, which allowed me to sort my tweet into different groups. This allowed me to easily monitor my interaction with others.
Starting off, it was difficult to produce auto-enhanced tweets quickly with high quality. Saul warned me about this and said that practice will make this process a lot easier.
My tweets started out like this:
Afterwards, they became like this:
After developing more fluency with using RiteKit, Saul assigned us and helped us do case studies. A good starting point was to hit up groups on crowdfunding sites that looked like they could use RiteKit to help increase more traffic to their campaign page through social media. We also reached out to companies that may be interested in the social media optimization that RiteKit offers. In return for our assistance in setting them up to use RiteKit, we would be able to write a case study article discussing the results after using our services. We helped clients learn how to use RiteKit and how to analyze their Twitter analytics to track improvement. With this, I was able to hone my communication and teaching abilities.
I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find clients who would be willing to speak with us. Even with Saul helping us by leveraging his connections, it was challenging to have clients commit through the entire process. I felt disappointed because at the end, I was unable to go from start to finish with a client, and was unable to write a case study article. Fortunately, Saul and others assured me that this happens to him and to many others.
During my internship, RiteTag was undergoing a change into RiteKit. RiteTag was one product, and it included hashtag analysis, auto-enhance, automation, and the call-to-action. RiteKit is now the new name, and it is divided into 4 standalone products (which can be used in conjunction):
- RiteTag: A browser extension which provides colour grading to show which hashtags you should use for what situation
- RiteForge: A browser extension which provides auto-enhance (hashtags and images)
- RitePush: Automation dashboard with multiple sources to import content from, and then schedule auto-enhanced posts quickly
- Rite.Ly: Comes with a customizable call-to-action builder for a CTA that gets baked into URLs I share in Tweets/posts
This was to ease the confusion many of our customers had about what RiteTag offered, which was more than just finding the best trending hashtags. Now, customers know exactly which product(s) they want to use, and do not feel like they are paying for features that they do not need. This change proved difficult because there were significant upgrades to each product and we had to become accustomed to them. Additionally, we also had to deal with bugs and customer queries about the new products. Saul was incredibly open about lost sales, cancellations, and how the initial reaction to the migration of existing customers from tiers of RiteTag to the new RiteKit products was actually very painful.
We underwent extensive education on how to unearth and report the bugs to our tech team. As we already knew how to use RiteTag, it was easier for us interns to navigate the new RiteKit. As we learned how to report the bugs, we all felt like RiteKit experts, in contrast to the confused customers. We took screenshots and also did quick video recordings so the tech team could easily reproduce bugs and fix them. This major change from RiteTag to RiteKit helped me learn how to take on huge tasks and I also got first-hand experience on how the customer service dynamics change when a radical change is released.
Overall, this internship experience helped me grow both personally and professionally. I built a stronger social presence through my Twitter account. I worked on communicating more effectively with the team and with customers. I worked with clients to help us them achieve our goals. I was able to take risks and I learned how to benefit from them due to lots of peer mentoring and feedback from the team.
Where does this leave me?
RiteKit gives interns the flexibility to discover what interests them and how they want to contribute to the team. I’ve had the opportunity to engage and communicate with our team and our customers, which interested me a lot. I’ve developed both personally and professionally and became more knowledgeable about social media optimization. I also experienced far more interest from the RiteKit leadership in regards to what I want to get out of the experience than I ever got from other jobs or in courses. This was a pattern, and one I intend to use when I move into leadership: along the way, pay attention to how your people are feeling about things, and when they do not share how confused they might be, elicit from them.
Now, I believe that I am better prepared to be further challenged and to accept more responsibility. I hope to capitalize on what I have learned and experienced from the strong peer mentoring and feedback at RiteKit and I hope to also bring the community feel that I’ve experienced here in my future roles in groups at school and throughout my career.
What about you?
For those considering applying for an internship position, I encourage you to do it. Internships provide you the opportunity to learn more than what you would have learned in school. If interested in working for a startup, do your research. Search their company name in LinkedIn and do an advanced search: people. See if past interns get recommendations. Reach out to a couple and see if they will speak with you, tell you candidly what to expect. See how they are doing now after the internship and ask what they liked most or what they got out of the internship. Look through the company’s social media presence, and see how the company handles complaints as well as compliments. Look for clues as to their personalities; these might be indicators on to how they treat their own people. Overall, find a startup or company that respects the same values that you do and one that treats their people well — but settle for none that do not elicit from you what you want to get out of the internship.
“Hey, who’s heard of RiteKit? Are they, like, known?”
For latest press on RiteKit and quotes from RiteTaggers, see RiteKit PR.