Why a social mobile app can still be successful starting with only 9 app users

http://facebook.com/VOPAsocial | https://vopa.social/

The social mobile app is called VOPA, which stands for the Value of People Anywhere. The scrappy Lean startup VOPA, International, Ltd., spread across three continents, has built a location-based mobile application that is able to provide the function of AirBnB, Uber, Craigslist and many other people-focused service platforms all in one place, a multichannel social platform connect people in their communities with services, volunteer opportunities, and friends.

We just launched an MVP and so far, in its first month of existence, it has only has 9 users. Daunting? Yes — but not really. Let me back up to when we started our prelaunch social marketing campaign, centered around our Facebook page using compelling, language-specific original content and driving traffic to our blogs and other relevant websites. By focusing on a segmented audience based in Mexico City (Spanish-speaking professionals and English-speaking expats), we gained have been growing our social user based at an average rate of 95% for the past six months.

Social media users do not equal app users, you say. This is true. They have yet to convert. But therein lies the potential.

Our low organic reach is the result of the fact that the Facebook feed algorithm is relying more on paid ads and we were initially focusing mostly on our region and language (Mexico City, Spanish). Initially, by spending the most money on paid advertising, coupled with rich content and relevant copy, A/B testing of content, our Facebook engagement rose to its peak in July and August. We found that our internal users are more expensive in terms of cost-per-result (engagement), but that crafting content specific to these communities created a segmented audiences that were more likely to share useful content related to finding useful information and services in Mexico City, in both English and Spanish.

So we learned that instead of chasing after reach only by purchasing likes left and right, we should focus on user engagement and begin to look for other channels than Facebook to get people to download the app soon. And in the mean time, focusing on user engagement in Facebook can still lead to greater organic reach and thereby circumvent Facebook’s ad-based algorithm to still achieve user community growth.

VOPA marketing has already taken these steps and had just started the download campaigns when the 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico City. We had just soft-launched the MVP a few weeks prior. Needless to say, social reach and other sharing activity dropped as users suddenly had other concerns. The last thing they had time for was to download an unknown app.

With attention to our user base and what they were going through in dealing with the recent disaster, we decided to temporarily call off the download campaigns and focus on building trust in our user community. We created a landing page to serve as an information hub, providing information on where people can find or offer help, and we posted it on our Facebook page:


And while we had only invested $150 pesos ($10 USD) in promoting the Facebook earthquake post, it garnered the most engagement out of all. This showed us the importance of nurturing our existing social user community by building trust through providing vetted information — even before they become app users.

Which brings us to the crossroads; we must now turn our social user community, mostly Facebook based, into app users. The question: is this possible? VOPA is in the test/download phase of our MVP and about here in our marketing funnel:

The task is now to expand our marketing efforts beyond Facebook, onto other social channels and branded blogs, engage in search marketing and universal app campaigns. This study by the Forrester Institute cited in the industry blog Kissmetrics shows that many other channels come first for businesses surveyed about how they achieved user conversion:

Another way to convert social media users into app users is to funnel them into subscribing by backlinking Facebook and other social posts to our online content (blogs and onbaording information). Encourage them to share the content and become brand ambassadors. The convention in digital marketing used to be to drive users to your website. However, in the era of social meadia, it is necessary to drive users down a two-way street: Let our original content in our branded blogs, and our Google Play, Appstore, universal ad campaigns (search and display) send users the reverse route back to our social media channels by encouraging them to share the content.

Using a combination of these efforts, while continuing to grow our social user community across multiple channels, I am confident that VOPA can transform much of our social universe into app users.

See our preview screen movie here. You also can download and view the live app here, to get a better understanding of what we are doing. Of course, you will not find people registered in the United States yet, but you will at least be able to get an idea of what the app looks like and the features it has. Please also check out the VOPA Facebook page and website.

I will be presenting an investor pitch on Wednesday, October 18 in Mexico City. To find out more details, log into meetup.com and search for the event: https://www.meetup.com/Mexico-City-Angel-Investor-Startup-Connect-Meetup/events/243715550/

Otherwise, please don’t hesitate to contact me at rebecca.ellis@vopa.social or contact@vopa.social to find out how you can support our project.