IS THERE AN APP FOR THAT?


Marketing & Business
piece written on the 18th October 2017 by  

I’m sure you’ve all heard someone say, “is there an app for that?”. It’s becoming a very common phrase in this day and age, sometimes it gets you an answer, sometimes it doesn’t but what most people miss to see is that it also offers inspiration. Imagine you hard several people all asking for an app that does something, heck, imagine you saw 100 people asking for the same app. Wouldn’t that inspire you to want to investigate how to create that app? Okay, so I’m preaching to my fellow entrepreneur’s mostly here. I’m the type of person who sees demand as an opportunity and when it came to the concept of, “is there an app for that?” it got me thinking.

What if I could keep track of each time someone asked, “is there an app for that?”. Imagine I could compile a long list of app possibilities into one place that I could then look through for inspiration and possible business ideas. Well, let’s not imagine because I decided to make it a reality. I’m not going to go into too many details about how to set this up yourself, I think leaving the challenge with you is inspirational in itself but essentially I used IFTTT to check Twitter frequently against some search queries and when matches were found, add the tweets to a Google Sheet. In other words, I set IFTTT up to store all tweets it found where “is there an app” was mentioned into a nice spreadsheet, take a look:

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 7.37.29 PM

My IFTTT recipe runs every couple of hours and updates this spreadsheet with all of the tweets which I can then go through from time to time to see if anything inspires me. Pretty neat, right?

My next step was to spend some time reading up on scripts for Google Sheets so that I could include a follower count for each Twitter user. I feel that knowing how many followers a person has gives a certain level of credibility to a tweet and from there I can use some background colour conditional formatting to highlight tweets worth observing. The sky’s the limit in terms of how you curate the list but the follower count made a lot of sense to me so I set out to write a small script. It was quite a hassle working with the importxml function but I got it working in the end thankfully.

During this process, I realised that the Google Sheet fills up quite quickly and a lot of the time it’s with retweets which is quite frustrating as they muddle up good information so I needed to figure out how I could remove an entire row based on a keyword. Not only would this help with that specific situation but I could also configure it to isolate certain words to remove junk, “is there an app?” tweets from my sheet. I also learned a fair amount about Google Sheets and scripts, and how powerful they are. I learned that you can write a function that includes a custom tab in your Google Sheet and from this, I put together a keyword match script to remove rows that included the word “free” in the tweet.

Here’s what the code ended up looking like:

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 7.44.50 PM

This code once compiled and run would add a nice easy tab in my actual spreadsheet, like this:

tab

Now when I click on this tab, it removes all the rows in the sheet that contain the word, “free”. I can naturally configure this, however, I like to remove rows based on whatever I want, thus removing a lot of the useless data from the sheet and putting me closer to seeing which apps people are searching for and hopefully draw some inspiration from this for another project.

My next step will be to try and write some sort of matching count script, which looks for words that occur multiple times in hopes that I may then be presented with app requests that are frequent. This way I can present myself with demand and with that comes the inspiration to supply. I also feel that there’s application here for tracking specific words within specific market segments, for example, seeing all “is there an app for that?” tweets that include financial terms, thus curating a list of app requests within the financial market.

As you can imagine, this isn’t limited to app ideas, this could be used for literally anything.

Hope I’ve inspired you!

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