Growth hacking– In the competition of marketing buzzwords, it’s one of the top contenders. But still, with all of the hype around growth hacking there are many misconceptions about what it really is, how easy it is to implement, and whether or not it is actually effective.
I’ve been in the marketing business for over 15 years and (hopefully I can say this without sounding completely obnoxious) I know what I’m talking about. That’s why I’m going to set the record straight about growth hacking.
What is growth hacking on Social Media?
In general, growth hacking refers to using marketing techniques for measurable goals of rapid growth. This takes places across different channels – including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It involves strategically following others to encourage followbacks to help increase your own account popularity.
This process requires maintaining a healthy balance of having more followers than people you follow back. And that means that you are often unfollowing people after initially following them. It also involves, sharing, liking, and commenting on others’ content to increase your own brand awareness and social growth.
Why Do People Do It?
Growth hackers aren’t following and engaging with hundreds of other social media users just because they have nothing better to do at work. They do it because it of the perks. And the perks aren’t just ego-boosts and being able to say, “Hey, look how many followers we have.”
For example, on Instagram, accounts that have over 10,000 followers are allowed to add links to Story posts. The ability to add links may not seem that important, but as a business it’s HUGE when it comes to lead generation and adding a call to action to your content.
Additionally, big accounts get influencer marketing recognition. With that recognition, other companies may pay you to promote their products or services on your account.
And finally, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another channel, people are attracted to what the majority already assumes to have social value. Which means that once you already have a large following, your following is likely to naturally keep growing. When done right, that means a continuous flow of sales for your business or influencer marketing opportunities.
To find out more about how to growth-hack for Twitter and Instagram, read this.
Is it worth it?
When you read why people growth hack, it’s easy to jump out of your chair ready to start growth hacking. But while growth hacking DOES come with many benefits, there are also cases where it can go wrong and actually harm your business in the process. So, to give you the well-rounded, complete understanding of growth hacking, let’s compare the benefits we just heard about with some warnings:
Why you need to be careful
1- Large followings, especially from people who aren’t actually interested in your content, may lead to low engagement on your posts or vague comments that don’t actually make much sense. This may make some of your “true followers” distrustful of you or your brand and may lead to people who were originally interested unfollowing you. It is more important to have hundreds of followers that actually have something to do with your brand than it is to have thousands of random followers.
2- A sudden large influx of new followers also may not sit right with your original followers. Avoid this by NEVER buying followers. And I mean never. Take the harder route and still grow quickly, but more steadily.
3- With everybody growth hacking, suddenly it’s getting harder. As more and more adopt growth hacking techniques on social media, it’s not as easy to get a followback as it once was. The bar has risen as you need to leave relevant comments, and produce your own relevant content.
4-Social channels may fight back. In 2017 ALL of the Instagram growth hacking bots were shut down one by one. In the past, these bots would like, comment, and follow a user based on their hashtags, location, and own followers. The sudden loss of these bots was a blow to many marketers. However, those who regularly posted high-quality content, and took over liking and commenting on their own, were able to keep their good social standing online. Still, it’s a hard lesson. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will throw curveballs to avoid tricks like these from users.
So back to my original question above: Is growth hacking worth it? I’d say, yes. But, only if you are sure to avoid any big mistakes in the process, and are willing to accept any negative consequences that come with the ride. Keep this reality check in mind, and you should be just fine.