My last article mentioned Growth Hacking as the most recent and for me exciting phase of Digital marketing. Growth is possibly the largest common goal across the business world, whether we are talking margins, website views or customers. As a Growth Hacker you should open the door to this process, so what traits give us the key to unlock it?
Last night on doing some reading into the history of Facebook, I had a slight reality check. Creator Mark Zuckerberg was my age when he first established the site. If I follow his lead I could be the next to construct a $190bn social-media platform reaching 1.5bn users in the next ten years; okay I highly doubt it; there’s no question something is special about Zuckerberg. But what makes him different? Many put his success down to a strong academic background and an unnatural computing ability, I disagree. If this 19-year old prodigy doesn’t define a growth hacker, I don’t know who or even what can. Sure his background in programming did act in his favour but I believe he both possessed and harnessed the most valuable attributes of a hacker precisely, accurately and beautifully. It is this that lead him to the sensation that stormed the world in a matter of years and it is this that I will explore today.
What fascinates me most about Facebook is a simple fact to which most of us are ignorant. All members are promoters of the site. At University, it is a platform for societies to organize meetings, friends to arrange parties and even study groups to collaborate work. Through these channels we share photos, statuses, links and unintentionally pressure our friends to use it as much as we do. This leads me to the first characteristic of a growth hacker: think innovatively. Zuckerberg manufactured a concept that would allow his website to spread itself in a non-invasive manner – essentially he employed current members of the site to entice new individuals. By thinking innovatively you should have an abundance of creative ideas and be confident enough to apply them in a creative and unique way. Ultimately this will feed consumer wants and hopefully fuel progress.
Now onto Zuckerberg’s second trait, his researching capabilities. A start-up aims to experience as much as 20% growth per month, this figure seems a tad unrealistic but it demonstrates how digital marketing should never be underestimated. Meeting this very ambitious goal is reliant upon finding new, exciting and most importantly unique software. In contrast mature businesses will aim around the 5% mark per annum. They need to research in a wider sense, finding fresh content for websites will keep long-term viewers engaged and will draw new individuals in. Do you remember when Myspace was all the rage back in 2008, when it was the most popular social media platform and when in fact the page was more visited than Google itself? As quickly as a site can flourish, it can fail. The main reason Myspace began to spiral downwards was because it didn’t react fast enough to what its users wanted. Facebook was becoming more and more user-friendly whilst Myspace lagged behind and frankly no longer made the cut by 2009. Moral of the story: to prosper you must research to follow what your users want and not wait for them to follow you.
Remaining analytical is our third and final skill. Yes creativity is what springs to mind when you think marketing but knowing what works and equivalently what doesn’t is essential for progress. Even the best growth hackers will make mistakes when predicting what will be effective. Now we’re blessed with a plethora of software for analyzing data on how many people visit your page and how long they stay there, this is the food and water for a growth hacker. Without this knowledge they have nothing to suggest in which direction to change strategies and where to direct research. 93% of people use a search engine when online, this illuminating figure suggests that by examining these searches you can adjust your page to get more views: a vital part of the marketing process.
So I have outlined that thinking innovatively, researching effectively and working analytically are all essential in growth hacking. You must stand out and remain contemporary, in the words of Zuckerberg himself ‘Be fast and be bold.’ This advice is fundamental to making a growth hacker great and a website viral.