Make Your App Famous! Six Tips From a Mobile PR Pro
Facebook's $1 billion acquisition of Instagram was an absolute, unadulterated stunner for the tech community, especially the mobile one. And as far as mobile-first/minimum viable products go, Instagram is the case study: Effectively iOS only, a nearly non-existent web experience, and less than a half-dozen key features.
For me, the news was bittersweet having worked at a startup back in 2008 that had a very similar product and vision of sharing photo moments throughout one's day, as it was happening. The iOS photo category was already very saturated back then, which makes Instagram's meteoric rise and subsequent sale to Facebook that much more incredulous. While there were obvious product differences, there was one thing I can see with more clarity now on why Instagram was nearly an instant success while ours was not. And that crucial difference was the narrative around our product.
With our iOS photo-sharing product we had oriented our product story around file syncing and instantaneous transfer and downloading, keying in on benefits around the technology. Instagram had a much simpler, captivating story: Chronicle your life through beautiful, mood-filled photos. When Instagram launched in late 2010, it was certainly not the first photo app that attempted to inject mood and atmosphere into one's photos…but it is the one company that got all the credit for it. And it's made all the difference.
Of course you have to build a killer app but do not forget to develop that compelling narrative around it.
To offer more insights and prescriptions into how this can be accomplished, I've asked leading industry PR pro Rebekah Iliff to contribute a guest post on the topic. Please enjoy this wonderful read on the little things you can do today to differentiate from the pack and become a category leader!
Guest post from Rebekah Iliff, Co-founder and CEO of talkTECH Communications:
I'd like to share some important info on the stuff that is going to make your mobile app rise to super stardom so that you can pay your bills and buy your soon-to-be wifey that rock she’s always wanted. Not the pet one. That other one.
I’m talking about how you can leverage the power and principles of PR to gain some exposure around your mobile app while also gathering valuable insights about your UX from those who matter most: your target audience.
The reality is that as an app developer it’s your job to create a product that has a killer UX, appealing design, and either takes away some pain or provides some pleasure to the user. What becomes your job long after the development cycle ends is telling your app’s story in a compelling way to as many people that will hear it. Chances are if your app isn’t a raging success within a few months of launch, and you aren’t acquiring users naturally through word of mouth or alternative discoverability techniques, you may need a little extra help.
I’d like to walk you through how you can use the principles of PR to get your “app story” told.
MAKE IT EMOTIONAL: Think about your story. Are you a travel app that makes it easier for single moms with kids to source discounted vacations because you saw a need for this after watching your sister go through it? Or are you a B2B app that makes task sharing easier among executives who wanted to have more time to spend with their kids? Is there an emotional component or is this just a straight up practical application… which is fine by the way.
ARTICULATE YOUR STORY: Here’s a good exercise to go through that may help you better understand how to position your app. Fill in the blanks with 20-50 word answers.
- Our team created this app because…
- The app has the following features…
- Which will allow our users to….
- And success of the app will be measured like this…
DEFINE YOUR TARGET USER: Who is your intended user for this app? Is it everyone (bad sign!) or is it extremely niche, i.e. ex-pats living in major urban cities. Once you understand who you are serving, you can better understand which earned media channels will make sense for you to distribute information to.
DO YOUR RESEARCH: Who are your competitors and who’s talking about them? Did they get a big write up on CNet, or HuffPo? Or do they have a lot of buzz in a particular community like dog walkers? Point being – don’t aim in the dark. Newsflash: 99% of apps are not unique and they have predecessors. Use them to your advantage and figure out what tactics they used to get people talking about them.
CREATE A WISH LIST: Pick the top 10 media outlets or blogs where you would like to be featured/covered, ideally. Beyond that, pick 20-30 writers, bloggers, review sites, or partners that would be able to get your app in front of at least 5k eyeballs. Meaning, their audience has a reach of at least 5k. I’m not talking about unique visits to the website. I’m talking about actual distribution and engagement. 5k is good, 1M better.
PITCH: THEN and only then, tell them your story and offer them something unique to share with their audience. Make sure their audience is the correct one (see DEFINE YOUR TARGET USER above). It’s YOUR job to make the connection for them. Allude to trends in the marketplace, or other apps they’ve covered that are similar. Keep in mind that you must have something to offer them – they won’t do you any favors. It has to be a win/win.
Now that you have the inside scoop on how to take your app from lame to fame, go get ‘em!
Rebekah Iliff is currently the Co-founder and CEO of talkTECH Communications. She is an organizational management, development, and communications professional who has served clients across multiple industries and across the globe for over eight years.
Spencer Chen heads up ISV & Ecosystem partnerships at Appcelerator. He loves the social web, anything mobile, and TMZ. If you have a really cool service for mobile apps, you need to call him!
Photo by Mike Hiatt via flickr.