Growth hacking for a novice

Social media is pointless right? Er no!
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TLDR
• I grew my App downloads 800% in a month
• Social signals can be faked (and probably are being).
• Don’t dis the hashtag.
• Fiverr is a gamble, but is useful.
• Practice with a side project.
• Test and measure, test and measure.
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I do not proclaim to be any good at growth-hacking I am merely trying different things and I found this to be interesting. I’m sure someone in here could take these same tactics and make a serious difference to their bottom-line.

Last year I built an app in the affirmation space. I love all that self-talk, psychology stuff, so I thought I’d build a nicer one than those that were already available. I designed it and commissioned my brother and his mates to build it. Then I launched it Jan 2016. About that time I started focusing on a new project so the app had little to no promotion. The app downloads grew at a very slow pace, which can only have been organic app store searches. We got to about 400+ downloads from Jan 2016 (launch) to September 2016.

In September I decided to have a play with a month of cheap promotion and managed to grow downloads by over 800% in about a month. My app was downloaded 3.5k times. All of this was done through using Instagram as my main social media channel. I posted one pic daily, with relevant hashtags for a week or so, which stretched into 30 days. I also posted these to Twitter (when I remembered to press the SHARE button, in the Instagram app).

#Ilovehashtags

I’ve seen a lot of hate for hashtags on social media over the last few years. But at the end of the day they are, without doubt, the best way to get in front of a new audience without paying for adverts. Hashtags act like searches, you click or follow one hashtag and you see everyone else’s post who used that same hashtag. This means people who are interested in your subject area get to see your posts. Which is just like targeted adverts or good SEO. Using hashtags is a little bit of trial and error. You will likely know what your key hashtags are for you product/brand. But expanding on that requires a little more testing. I’d just start with a few hashtags and look at what other hashtags people use then add those. Then it is a case of seeing which get you more likes and follows.

*Just so you know there is a limit to how many hashtags you can use in Instagram. I don’t know the official answer, but I know that I’ve exceeded it and the pics post without any text.

So that was step one. Then I started playing with Fiverr.com. I went and bought some followers for my account. “What!?” I hear you say. That is pointless! Yep it is…and it isn’t.

Let’s start by understanding the typical influencer Instagram/Twitter profile. Influencers are celebrities, athletes, tech-gods or youtubers. People who have a massive following on social media. If you look at their profiles they normally have a million followers but only follow hundreds of people. These are usually their company, or sponsors, or other influencers (who make them look cooler by association). In the landscape of social media these are the types of accounts us mere mortals follow. There is a social and psychological signal here, that says the Influencer must be worth following because everyone else is.

Let’s think about the opposite of that too. How many people have you followed that follow a million other people, but they only have a handful of followers? Not many, right? The signal here is, they are not worth following. So with that in mind, I bought followers. I went from 60 organic followers (that is people who found me, or were my friends taking pity on me) to over 3000 followers overnight. Now when I post and people look at my profile they think ‘wow this is an account with authority because everyone else is following them’. Or at least that is the logic and the way it panned out. Because from that point on I got more followers per day than ever.

*The thing with paid followers is they gradually disappear, and they are not real people, you can’t sell to your fake followers. So it is a bit like a drug habit if you want to stay with a high follower count, you gotta keep buying. At least until you have built a real following, because that is the point, which only happens through good content. To be clear this is no different a practice to restaurants sitting people in the window seats, or night clubs having a line outside. They are all signals to our dumb crowd brain, that tricks us into thinking there is something of value here.

I then also paid for a few strategic retweets of my Instagram posts. This was pretty good in terms of Twitter engagement and I think would be great for certain products. I love Twitter, but Instagram is way better for engagement in my experience. I bought 1000 Twitter followers, but I must admit to being a little half-hearted in my attempts at Twitter glory.

I sort of went a bit crazy on Fiverr.com and tried a number of gigs. One was a blog post to go on the Huffington post. This had little value for the cost and was also removed shortly afterwards, so it was effectively a scam, so beware.

I’m fortunate that my app is a great place for me to try out things without messing up my main brand/product. Which has over 7k real people on Facebook which I built over years. As I see what works in this trial and error world of growth-hacking, I will use the effective ones with my main products/brands for greater reach. Side projects are great for this sort of learning. I can recommend starting something to try some experiments. However do not waste an opportunity either, try a side project so grand that if it did work, it would make you really rich :)

Full disclosure on growth-hacking my app. I had a lot of installs of the app, then I had a lot of uninstalls around 40%. Digging into this, I think it is down to the type of posts I was sharing on Instagram. These were ‘styled’ in a way that my app did not allow (so it was accidental false advertising). For example we only had one font on our app and 8 images to chose from. But I posted 40 different images with numerous fonts. I can see how people might be expecting something more from the app. Which is why I think we had a significant uninstall rate. I have decided to halt my social media experiments and we have now tweaked the app to make it better. And we’re making the promotional content exactly as the app.

Key points:

• Social signals can be faked (and probably are being).

• Don’t dis the hashtag.

• Fiverr is a gamble, but is useful.

• Practice with a side project.

• Test and measure, test and measure.