Dlvr.it’s growth from zero to our first 400,000 users can be significantly attributed to our use of social media. There is no shortage of stories on how to use social media and content marketing to attract and retain customers. However, there are very few case studies by start-ups and small businesses articulating the thought process and results.
I am sharing our journey with you to shed light on specific tactics that worked for us. Your mileage may vary. We got here by testing and failing repeatedly.
- Monitor the competition: Leading up to our launch, we spent time monitoring Twitter for comments and questions related to a prospect’s current service. We especially tuned in when “unhappy” user experiences were mentioned. This helped us build a better product. We invited those unsatisfied tweeters to test our product. This select group became our beta testers. These initial users started to mention they had switched from competitor ‘A’ to dlvr.it generating traffic to dlvr.it. However, registration was not open to all at this point. If you did not have an invitation code, you could submit your email address to be alerted when the product was open to everyone. When we were ready to invite more people in, we provided the initial testers wooed from the competition with invite codes they could share with their fans/followers. This created the initial buzz and momentum we needed.
- Create the right content mix: We found focusing on an editorial theme for the week increased page views by 35%. We don’t share random content but look for weekly themes. For example we may share content important to a specific audience (e.g., real estate agents) or focusing on a specific topic (e.g., the importance of images in social media). It not only keeps us focused but our readers responded well to the mix. All our content is shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
- Create the right volume: We discovered less is more. Instead of posting five blog posts each week, we found that just two unique blog posts shared on social media during the week, resulted in a 34% increase in visits.
- Incorporate 3rd-party content: Infographic posts generate 100% more headline clicks over “How to” articles. We look for one infographic that pertains to the theme for a given week. We add a short story including a summary of the infographic.
- Take time creating headlines: Providing a great headline is the difference between success and failure. We found “How to” headlines and those that were very specific performed best (e.g., How to Find Your Flickr RSS Feed and Share Your Photostream on Twitter and Facebook vs. How to Find Your Flickr RSS Feed and Share Your Photostream on Social Media)
- Include images: An image should stop readers in their track. It takes a reader thirteen milliseconds to process an image. When you are competing for attention in social media, an image is truly worth a thousand words. Images determine what a reader will do next – click, share, follow or move on.
- Track the results: We also found it takes 3+ months to determine a trend. We monitor everything weekly and make minor adjustments as we go along. However, we are not afraid to make sweeping changes to our strategy. Every three months or so, we perform an in depth analysis of all our data and trends to help inform our decisions moving forward.
- Re-share: There has been lots of controversy around the idea of sharing the same story more than once to your social audience. Test it. We view our social feeds as a moving stream. Fans and followers come to drink from that stream at different times of the day. The stream is never the same for any one person. With that logic, we tested sharing the same content daily, in the morning, afternoon, and evening and, again, one month out. We found clicks, traffic and retweets increased 5x.
- Don’t be Afraid to Experiment: Our audience loves numbers. We are experimenting with a new Twitter handle (@statsfactshacks) that only shares stats related to running a business. We wanted to be a bit playful and share very focused content. This resulted in our decision to create a new Twitter handle. We’ll see if it pays off.
As pointed out in tactic # 7 above, by no means are we done. We are constantly tweaking, perfecting and introducing new tactics that will help us grow.