Great Growth Hacker vs Average Digital Marketer
The buzzword “growth hacking” has been around for a while now, and in modern times it’s become a word used for general digital marketing.
But it didn’t used to be that way. In the early days the term was reserved for mostly blackhat or greyhat strategies — things like URL cloaking, fake redirects, mass fake accounts, automated bots, etc.
To me, though, if you haven’t experimented with these kinds of tactics, you can’t call yourself a growth hacker.
And if you’re not pushing the envelope with these kinds of strategies, you’re not a growth hacker.
But it’s not about just going on BlackHatWorld and testing out the different strategies. That’s what your run-of-the-mill entry level growth hacker is going to do.
The BEST growth hackers actually find new exploits they can use to drive massive amounts of traffic, while using data to discover how to drive as many conversions as possible from that traffic.
And not every growth hack has to be blackhat. There are plenty of opportunities that are both ethical and super effective.
To do this, you have to look at the current marketing ecosystem and recognize the what’s going on while staying on top of new trends to find arbitrage opportunities.
Here’s a white hat example — prior to Facebook’s algorithm change, it was extremely easy to get traffic from Facebook pages & to grow Facebook pages. It was the “shout for shout” technique popularized right now by Instagram accounts, but used across Facebook pages. Those posts back then got tons of engagement back a few years ago and Facebook pages could scale rapidly because of it.
That’s now been largely patched up by Facebook’s algorithm change, but in its heyday I channeled tens of thousands of cheap fans to my page. Back then, the news feed algorithm also favored page posts so building up your page brought me hundreds of thousands of visitors.
So how do you find these opportunities?
The thing with any growth hack is they work really well until they get too saturated. Instagram was easy as hell to grow on, and it still is, but it’s getting harder. Back in 2013, just running a bot could get you tens of thousands of real followers in less than a month. Nowadays a huge amount of the users that follow you back when you’re botting are bots themselves.
The best way to find new opportunities is to keep track of latest technologies and changes in various platforms.
For example, Facebook Live just launched, so naturally it’s getting an algorithm boost. That might not be the case a year down the line, but today it’s an easy channel to get free traffic. Instagram stories / Instagram Live is another example. A year ago it was things like Periscope or even Meerkat (oh how quickly those died).
After you’ve picked a platform, you need to learn the rules of the game to get you the highest results. Every platform can be gamed if done correctly. For example, a lot of growth hackers game Reddit by getting friends to upvote their content.
Once you figure out the rules of the platform, you need to figure out how to multiply your effectiveness. Generally this is done by using automation of some kind or in certain cases, VAs. Great growth hackers can code their own tools, but there’s also pre-made tools out there that can make it easier for you.
One funny growth hack I’ve read about recently is a guy using fake girl Tinder accounts to spread the word on their product (the girl’s profile would say they work at XXX company). That’s genius. But they needed a bot that would maintain all the accounts and swipe right on every guy — this is where your ingenuity comes in.
What should you start experimenting with in 2017 and what’s going to get too saturated?
Here’s where I predict opportunities will exist:
- Facebook ads are still going very strong, although it will get harder and harder as bigger brands buy up all the inventory and create great ads.
- Instagram, especially now with IG live will take over FB live or at least will match it.
- Pinterest ads surprisingly aren’t too bad, and since it’s a platform that no one is talking about, there are arbitrage opportunities on there if you can find them.
- YouTube will slowly be overtaken in the video space by Facebook. Recent changes to their algorithm have infuriated content creators, while Facebook has been sending massive reach to video.
- Creating artificial virality. Try VYPER for your viral growth needs.
- Email marketing will still be the strongest channel for revenue, as long as you’re not just blasting your list with sales / coupons and rely more on a content marketing strategy.
Here’s my predictions for what’s going to die out:
- Snapchat will die in the next 2 years. Facebook has the advertising game down and Snapchat really can’t compete. Their demographic of kids also has very little buying power.
- Twitter is most likely going to stay afloat, but the traffic will lessen over time. B2B businesses will still be able to get good traction, but any B2C companies should focus on other growth channels.