Because I’m a developer who dreams of launching a business from his basement with zero marketing, I’ve come to see everything (web business idea or feature) through a viral lens. My experiments with Twibes, Toy Chest, Zuckerbucks and many other less successful projects taught me a few hard lessons in viral marketing. Oh, and I lied – there are more than 7 lessons and tips here.
I’ve been contracting at BigDoor for a few months now. We’re working on a cool new gamification platform that I think will be super viral. This post is an excerpt from a document I sent around internally.
- It’s OK to require invites (or force tweets) if the end user is experiencing intrinsic value (eg. Twibes tweet to join, ToyChest invite to send gift).
- Sharing messages are critical, hard to template, and should be one of the first things designed.
- The viral surface area of the app is all the channels in which your messages are going to appear. A/B testing the share messages could make or break your viral coefficient.
- Viral coefficient is the mean number of new customers an existing customer generates. If 10 people refer 5 new people, coefficient is 0.5. If coefficient > 1 … you’ve got “Free money!”
- The more you make an interaction about the human players and less about content, the more viral it becomes (eg. Top Friends, Send Hotness, Facebook photos).
- Facebook Likes are not viral (enough) they are more of an opt-in than a broadcast.
- Tweets are more viral than likes, but not everyone’s on Twitter.
- Facebook invites are not as viral as they once were, but are probably better than likes.
- Email is still a great channel.
- Tweets, Invites, and Likes are a currency. You can charge for content in that currency.
- If users take ownership of what they’re promoting (a fan group, their blog) – they will promote much harder, because they are promoting themselves (aka “Ning double viral loop”).
- Even virtual gifts have perceived value, and are cause for sharing.
- In calls to action, ego (what are they saying about me?), humor, obligation, and sex are huge.
- Draw your viral loops and funnels, and estimate the attrition at each stage.
Previous posts on viral app design: