App developers do not have to rely solely on in-app advertising and other mobile advertising to build an audience and drive demand for their apps – there are also many cost-effective (or even free) options to use social media to make apps more successful.
The Challenge: The mobile app marketplace has become increasingly crowded (both on iOS and Android), which means that it’s more difficult than ever to make your app stand out from the crowd. Developers can use paid advertising to drive demand for their apps. Unfortunately, reaching critical mass through CPC/CPM/CPI mobile advertising campaigns can require significant financial resources.
Why Social Media matters for app developers: Social media levels the playing field. Instead of having to invest significant money in purchasing mobile ads, social media gives all developers, regardless of their size or financial resources, to build an audience over time. If used correctly, social media can help app developers create an army of fans whose collective promotional strength and word-of-mouth can rival the largest mobile advertising campaign.
Here are a few tips for how app developers can use social media to make their apps successful:
- Make social media a design priority: Social media is not something to be tacked on “after the fact.” The best way to acquire a social media following is to integrate Facebook and Twitter directly into your app. At a minimum, give users the opportunity to like or follow your product through the most important social networks. Allowing users to share achievements and other information on Facebook is also a good option – the easier you can make it for your users to talk about your app and share their experiences with their friends and followers, the more likely you will be to attract extra eyeballs and get extra clicks, often with no extra effort or investment on your part.
- Reward users for connecting with your product: If you use virtual currency or items in your app, consider rewarding users who connect with you through social media. You won’t always be able to track actual conversions to social media, but this doesn’t matter: the engagement and additional audience reach that you get from users on social media is still valuable and is worth “paying for” with virtual currency, even if you don’t know which users bought/downloaded your app as a result of social media. The important thing is to give people an extra reason to connect with you. Ask yourself, what’s it worth to you to get an extra Facebook fan or Twitter follower? Especially if the expenditure doesn’t require any “real” money?
- Make a long-term commitment to your Facebook community: Social media isn’t magic and it’s not something that you can put on autopilot: it requires long-term engagement and connection and an investment of time and attention. Once your community of Facebook followers starts to grow, keep people engaged with a continuous stream of valuable content, sneak-peak information, provocative questions (to generate discussions and ideas) and co-created content (such as sharing user photos, screenshots, etc.). For example, the Angry Birds Facebook page has inside “sneak peeks” at new levels and new versions of the app, special offers and incentives to get people to “Like” the page, photos from users sharing their Angry Birds birthday cakes, Angry Birds stuffed animals carried to the top of Mt. Everest, and other real-life examples of how people are enjoying the app and the community that the app has created. Another important element of Facebook interaction is continuity – you don’t want to bombard people and clog up their Facebook feeds with too many updates, but you should try to post something valuable every 1 to 2 days.
Ready for more social media marketing tips to drive demand for your app? Check out part 2 of this series…
What’s your take on this? Have you used social media to promote your apps? What techniques have worked well for you? Which app developers or app brands do you follow on social media, and why?
Looking for even more tips on how to get the most from your social media marketing? Check out this video series with Nathan Manning, co-founder of Playmous, Inc
Part 1: Using Social Media to Drive Demand for Your App
Part 2: How to Scale Your Community
Part 3: Focus on Creating Emotional Connections, Not Marketing Features
About Ryan Morel: Follow @ryanmorel