The Not-so-ugly Truth Behind All These Growth Hacking Stories

You open your email and there’s all this wonderful stories about how some startup used growth hacking to get one or more of the following:

a) X number of subscribers Y days after launch
b) X% of ROI, Earning $Y In Just 1 Month
c) X Likes, Y Shares, Z Traffic and Tons of Conversions In 24 Hours

And lots more.

Everywhere you turn, all these growth hacking stories get the limelight. And it’s written in a way that makes it all seem do-able. Sure, there are very good stories that inspire us to do things and then there are many other stories that trick us into believing something that doesn’t exist.

I’m writing about the latter.

One of the people I discovered while building a share strategy for kontentlab, Janet Aronica, put it very neatly:

Growth hacking is the fancy word today. It will die in sometime but while it lasts, it will mislead — just like a ton of other things in this industry — a lot of people into believing in something that isn’t and lead them astray from true success.

Why do people write these blogposts?

You should remember that most of these growth hacking stories written by startups and agencies are part of their internal content strategy. There is true data behind them, yes, but the data doens’t really mean you can replicate the ideas to get where that startup got to.

90% of these startups write their growth hacking stories because that will attract more traffic, more subscribers and more klout in the industry.

Think about this. One growth hacking story can be shared on multiple forums today (including the wildly popular, bringing in a ton of visibility. Companies that I’ve never even noticed are up on my radar because of these stories being shared. None of their older blog posts showed up like that anywhere before.

How to find out if a growth hacking story is worth your time?

Actionable ideas that you can try — that’s the only measure of any growth hacking story. Unless it’s a profile write-up like this one on Evernote, there is no point in reading a growth hack story if you can’t have actionable takeaways from it.

The business of building a company, an Saas, a startup, a small business — whatever — is enormously time-consuming and you won’t get everything right the first time.

Reading stuff doesn’t get you a long way

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of reading. I’m a huge fan of long-form content that dives into amazing details. But all that doesn’t get you anywhere close if you don’t actually put things into action.

Pouring over stupendous detail about how one company growth hacked their way to billions will give you ideas. And ideas are $1 apiece. It’s the execution part that counts and when it comes to execution, bookmarking and reading a lot of growth hacking stories doesn’t add any value.

So the next time you are about to click on another growth hack story, check your todo. There’s probably something more productive to do right now.

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