How we got our first 500 followers by doing 2 simple things

This also seeded our first 300 users.

For a small business or individuals, getting people to discover your product online is a big challenge. Content marketing, cliched though it sounds, is the most reliable way to generate followers online.

We have built a content marketing tool that any small business, individual can use to grow their online community. To do this — we wanted to eat our own dog food. If we cant build a product that helps us grow, how can we build it for others? So our first target was to reach 500 followers on twitter organically — by using a combination of our own product and any other free tool we can use. (Since we are a fan of Medium, we decided to adopt their “transparency” policy and share our first results here).

The idea was to focus 50% on the product and 50% on growth.

Since our goal was to hit the target by spending the least amount of resources — we decided to focus on 2 things.

  1. Build a prototype of the product. A beta versoin. A usable version that will allow users to try, it use , test it and then come back again.
  2. Build a quick growth-engine of sorts using which we can keep building our online community.

Lets go through them one by one.

  • Build a beta version:

Our goal was to release a really basic version of the product. Against our instincts to focus really hard on the ux and the design, we focussed on making something that can be used seamlessly without bugs and glitches. This is from past experiences where we had focussed so much on making a perfect version of the product that we never ended up launching it. This time, we were ok to prioritise an actual release of the product over a perfect version of it. So we build it and released it on (Zola’a algorithm basically — but this finds content of interest, rather then people of interest!)

  • The next step was the growth engine.

There were 2 things we could do here. Focus on writing our own content and then distribute it. But content marketing is not an overnight job. It needs a bit of time and effort to be put in before actual results can be seen. So we needed something that will start getting us immediate traction in the number of twitter followers. We decided to rely on a very strong use case of our product — content discovery and content curation.

We also used two additional tools to support us: Buffer for scheduling and Crowdfire to find competitors followers that we can engage with. The steps we followed were:

  1. Find the twitter followers of some of our competitors / similar accounts. Crowdfire as a tool proved to be really useful for this. We followed with and engaged with some of our competitor followers and got them to engage back with us.

2. Influencers — On Zolarithm, you can search for a specific topic, say “content marketing’ and find the stories that have the potential of going big by getting a lot of shares. Our proprietary algorithm identifies these potential stories and also highlights the influencers who are helping them grow big. By following and engaging with those influencers, we started getting a lot of relevant followers.

3. Content discovery and curation — By using the topic filter “content marketing” on zolarithm and then selecting “Last 7 days”, we identified the content that has gone big in shares. We then scheduled this content on Buffer to be posted twice a day. We made sure that not all content was shared — but only the ones which had a very high Viral Score on zolarithm.

With this “double punch” of connecting with our users on one side and then curating extremely relevant and targeted content with them to consume or share, we decided to go live. In about 4 weeks of just doing this in a disciplined manner, we have our first 500 followers.

Since we had always decided to focus on growth, we decided to launch on ProductHunt. With our user base of 500 already sharing and distributing content and a decent word of mouth spreading, we got our first 300+ users from Product Hunt. Yes, we could have waited and built more set of features and then launch the product at a better time. But the fear of never launching has always been on our minds! This time we decided to go for it and are pretty happy with the result.

What’s next:

We will now focus on creating more of our original content and then combine this with the curation techniques that we tweak and improve every day. By creating more of our relevant content and then distributing it across influencers, the target is to grow more of our trial users.

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