15 Tips to Increase Your Brand’s Social Media Engagements
A 2018 report published by Hootsuite and We Are Social states that the number of internet users worldwide has passed the 4 billion mark, and roughly 3.2 billion of those are social media users. That means every minute, your brand’s social media content is competing with millions of Facebook posts, hundreds of thousands of tweets, […]
A 2018 report published by Hootsuite and We Are Social states that the number of internet users worldwide has passed the 4 billion mark, and roughly 3.2 billion of those are social media users. That means every minute, your brand’s social media content is competing with millions of Facebook posts, hundreds of thousands of tweets, and tens of thousands of Instagram photos. With those record-breaking numbers, you might be wondering how you can stand out in all that noise.Luckily, it’s very achievable. Here are 15 tips for strengthening your social media prowess and boosting your brand’s social media engagements:
1. Post Value-rich Content
It should be no surprise that posting more valuable content will result in higher engagement. Yet, most brands’ social media pages are filled with countless posts humblebragging about themselves and their products. But that’s the kind of content that pushes people away. Instead, your brand’s social media content should be useful and speak to the intended audience’s wants, needs, desires, fears, and pain points. Constantly focusing on your audience resonates, and shows that your brand is about more than profits. Try sharing surprising statistics, thoughtful quotes, or evergreen blog content. Before posting anything, ask yourself: “If I were the reader, how would this help me?”
2. Research and Emulate Popular Content
So many marketers simply guess at what content they think their audience would like – and then they’re surprised when it doesn’t perform well. Rather than playing guessing games, spend a little time researching what kind of content has worked in the past. Try browsing your competitors’ and industry-adjacent peers’ social media profiles to see what kind of content is working for them and driving the greatest engagement. Tools like Ahrefs and Buzzsumo can also be leveraged to see what kinds of headlines and blog posts perform best when shared via social media. You can find out total engagement, social media channel breakdown, and much more.
3. Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are easy wins for connecting with like-minded people. It’s good practice to piggyback on popular, relevant hashtags in addition to making your own. Opt for hashtags that are on the shorter side with easy-to-spell words or phrases. They should give the intended audience a clear understanding of the topic of conversation, and be memorable as well.
4. Use Giveaways and Contests
It’s no secret that people adore cheap and free stuff. But you’ve got to make your giveaways worthwhile and your contests entertaining and rewarding. Nobody cares about 5% discount codes or free shipping on their next order. They want that 20% discount, free meals, free trips, or exclusive gear. And they also want their rewards now, not next month. Instant-use discount codes and fast and free shipping are win-wins. Lastly, don’t forget to acknowledge the winner publicly so people see that it isn’t a gimmick. Better yet, have the winner create a post or video that you can share so it has a more authentic touch.
5. Host Q&A or AMA Sessions
Question & Answer (Q&A) or Ask Me Anythings (AMAs) have long been a staple of traditional interviews and sites like Reddit, but they’re rapidly becoming more mainstream across social media. For example, Instagram recently released a new story sticker that allows followers to ask questions within their stories, that many are using in an AMA style. Because these formats have a live or recent quality to them, they’re alluring to audiences of all types. Naturally, the more time people spend interacting with your brand, the more trust and rapport you can build – which inevitably will lead to more attention and sales.
6. Share Influencer Content
Blogger and influencer outreach is all about finding relevant influencers to align with your brand. Start by leveraging marketing tools to find what content in your niche is getting the most engagement, and determine who’s creating it. Then, get noticed by sharing their content, engaging with it, or directly reaching out with a short pitch or offer. Once you’ve established an influencer is a fit for your brand and goals, then you can simply invite them to share your content.
7. Ask Questions and Utilize CTAs
If you want action, you’ve got to ask for it. It’s truly that easy. A properly-placed call-to-action (CTA) will encourage readers to engage with you further. First, show prospects how you can make their life better or address a pain point. Speak to their emotions, and you can’t go wrong. Then, hit them with a CTA that’s simple, specific, and a gradual next step. Typically, these steps involve moving them from your social media page to interacting with your content or taking them to a landing page on your site.To build engagement, ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. These questions usually start with “why,” and the best are thought-provoking or slightly controversial to encourage people to share their opinions. Create “fill in the blank” or “caption this photo” prompts to engage your audience on a creative level that makes them feel involved. Futurism, a science and technology news site, famously does this on their popular Instagram stories.
8. Engage With Others
How you interact with your audience is a critical component of how your brand is perceived. A positive perception is typically marked by lots of engagement and a dialogue that’s positive and lighthearted. Thank them, compliment them, or offer assistance in some way.Naturally, there will be some negative comments and engagement, but the best way to handle that is to pick your battles, keep your responses short and sweet, and point them toward an FAQ resource or bring the negative conversation out of the public eye.
9. Utilize Images, GIFs, and Videos
Adding visual elements to your content is one of the best ways to make your post stand out in social media feeds, partly because people are better at remembering visual content. For example, if you hear a piece of information, three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. But if you add a picture to it, it can boost retention up to 65%. Visual storytelling is best served by ditching stock visual content and creating your own instead. People gravitate toward original content, and usually perceive stock imagery as spammy and distasteful. Even just snapping your own photos, adding a light filter, and superimposing text over it can create highly-shareable content.
10. Share Surveys and Polls
Posting surveys and polls on Twitter and Facebook is easy, and it’s a great way to stoke engagement and learn meaningful info about your audience. Plus, with enough of a reach, you can generate original content by surveying your audience (and sharing the results later). Instagram even has a sticker layer that allows users or brands to get near-instant feedback from their audience on ideas for new products and features.
11. Post Frequently and at the Right Times
According to a 2018 industry research report from Sprout Social, the best times to post on Facebook are Wednesdays from 12-2 PM and Thursdays from 1-2 PM. Twitter’s sweet spot is Friday from 9-10 AM or between 10 AM and noon most days. To maximize these guidelines, automate your social media posts using a tool like Buffer, or at the very least schedule them out in advance with a tool like CoSchedule.
12. Ask For Feedback
A fast and easy way to get your followers talking is to simply ask their opinions. People have no shortage of opinions, and are usually quick to share their feedback and suggestions when asked. You can also pair this with giveaways to really get people talking. Free shipping, free dessert, or a hefty discount code can go a long way toward getting people to open up.
13. Don’t Discount Live Video
35% of marketers are now using live video to reach their intended audience, partly because they garner more engagement than non-live videos. On Facebook, live videos have an average engagement rate of 4.3%, compared to non-live video content at 2.2%. That’s nearly twice the engagement – and the best part is you don’t have to do any editing or add any graphics; just point and shoot.
14. Partner Up and Cross-promote
One of the quickest ways to generate more engagement and simultaneously reach a wider audience is to cross-promote by partnering up with another brand. Obviously, you’ll want to find someone who isn’t a direct competitor, but is still industry-adjacent enough to have a similar audience. Once you’ve found a partner, you’ve got a few options:
Post content supplied by your new partner
Co-produce a piece of content that you both share
Create a post on behalf of your new partner
Besides partnering with other companies, you can also cross-promote other social media channels. Tweet a picture of your Snapchat page, or remind people on Instagram to check out your Pinterest page.
15. Utilize Paid Promotion
If you want to reach a larger audience and drive more engagement, it doesn’t get much easier or faster than paid promotion. The hard part is finding the perfect combination of ad copy, landing pages, headlines, and offerings. Luckily, the internet is riddled with “how to” guides on successful paid promotion.While all this social media optimization seems like a lot of work, remember, a whopping 94% of prospects are active on some form of social media, making the juice absolutely worth the squeeze. You can’t afford not to have some form of social media presence – and if you’re going to do it at all, you’ve got to make sure you do it right.How are you winning the war for attention and engagement on social media?Share your story and tactics in the comments below:
To some, marketing and growth marketing are interchangeable. After all, the end goal of all marketing is growth, so surely growth marketing is just “marketing”… right? This isn’t entirely illogical, but it is wrong. Marketing is a broad term that comprises all channels and techniques used to help a business grow – from SEO and […]
To some, marketing and growth marketing are interchangeable. After all, the end goal of all marketing is growth, so surely growth marketing is just “marketing”… right? This isn’t entirely illogical, but it is wrong. Marketing is a broad term that comprises all channels and techniques used to help a business grow – from SEO and PPC, to email marketing, direct mail and much more – including, of course, growth marketing. Most marketers will drive revenue via a group of very specific channels. An SEO, for instance, will optimize a site, assess and fix technical errors, and implement a strategy for driving backlinks. A paid search expert will leverage digital ad platforms to drive qualified traffic to specific pages of a site. A growth marketer, however, might use one – or all – of the channels just mentioned (plus many more). What’s different is that they’re in a constant state of flux. They’re always testing, always trying new channels or figuring out how to leverage existing channels more effectively. In fact, the channel itself is secondary to a growth marketer’s goal: driving fast, sustainable, scalable growth. “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” Sean Ellis, Startup Marketing Here are 10 ways successful growth marketers think differently, and how you can start thinking the same way, too.
1.They fail fast
To “fail fast” means to figure out when something isn’t working, to learn from it, and to move on ASAP. It doesn’t mean trying to fail. It’s an ideology that can stop companies from wasting cash propping up a failing venture. Other times, it offers a chance to adjust how and where cash is being spent – potentially preventing a company from going under. Fail fast (or be ready to), and you’ll protect yourself from making a rookie mistake: overinvesting in channels or concepts that aren’t working. Good growth marketers are hardwired to think on their feet and be fluid in their approach. Failing fast should come naturally to them. To mirror this mentality, set aside time, once a week or so, to sit back and take stock of your situation. Be totally honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working and resist the urge to keep plugging away at something you know isn’t delivering – even if it was your idea (great growth marketers never get emotionally attached to ideas).
2.They measure everything
Or pretty much. Not everything can be accurately measured (customer delight, for one) or should be measured. If a metric can help a growth marketer make better decisions, however, they will measure it. After all, if we don’t assign KPIs to our activities and track progress against them, how will we know when we’ve failed? This is inherent to the growth-marketer’s mindset and essential to their success. If you’re not measuring everything you do, don’t worry – it’s not too late to start. Look at all your marketing tactics in isolation and establish what metric or metrics will help you understand how effective each one is at meeting its goals. This might be leads generated, links gained, number of social shares, number of email opt-ins, or any other sensible, actionable metric. Exactly what you measure is unimportant. What matters is that you’re tracking something which lets you assess whether your work is getting results.
3.They focus on the metrics that matter
We already know that not everything which can be measured should be measured. If you do fall into that trap (of trying to measure everything) one of two things is likely to happen.
You waste time worrying about metrics that don’t matter. This is the best-case scenario.
You get sidetracked by trivial data and make poor decisions as a result.
To figure out which metrics matter, you should start by learning the difference between vanity and actionable metrics. “Vanity metrics: Numbers or stats that look good on paper, but don’t really mean anything important. Actionable metrics: Stats that tie to specific and repeatable tasks you can improve and to the goals of your business.” Caleb Wojcik, Fizzle Web traffic is a good example of a vanity metric. It’s also commonly (and incorrectly) used as a KPI. This is because web traffic is just a number. You could have a million unique visitors a month but that’s irrelevant unless those visitors are impacting your bottom line. You have to know where your traffic’s coming from and why, and what it’s doing next. Referral traffic from an unrelated site or organic traffic from an irrelevant keyword is – by and large – going to bounce. Sure, one or two visitors that arrive on your site by chance might actually be interested in what you do and become leads or customers, but most of them will look at the page they landed on, then leave. Mirror the habits of growth marketers by only measuring metrics you can act on.
The best growth marketers know that few campaigns go exactly as planned, and that a channel or strategy working once does not mean it will work again. They understand that every facet of marketing is constantly changing and that to keep up, they have to be changing with it. Agile marketing is the polar opposite of the approach adopted by many seasoned marketers – waterfall marketing. This is a highly organized but rigid approach to marketing that favors very explicit plans and discourages fluidity. Image Credit “Agile methods support rapid adaptation in a strategic, balanced way. Agile teams may be fast, but they aren’t chaotic. Choices are considered; decisions are not reactive.” Andrea Fryrear, writing for CMI Becoming more agile in the workplace usually means:
Testing campaigns in short sprints – around 6 weeks, on average.
Making decisions based on data, not gut instinct.
Tracking the market and the channels you use and reacting fast to any changes that might impact your efforts.
Valuing the input of your whole team.
If you’re afraid of change or just stuck in your ways, you have a lot of work to do. Embracing change is essential for any marketer today.
5.They optimize the full funnel
Before deciding to make a purchase, every single one of us goes through the process of the sales funnel, which usually looks something like this: Image Credit The top of the funnel represents consumers who know they have a need or problem, but they don’t yet know how to fix it. Consumers at the top of the funnel are yet to be exposed to your brand, so your job is to get it in front of them. At the bottom of the funnel are consumers that are nearly ready to buy – you just need to give them a final push before they’ll convert. Good growth marketers know that in order to be successful they have to consider all of this funnel. If they only focus on one or two stages of that funnel, they’re either:
Not doing enough to generate new leads.
Not doing enough to turn those new leads into customers.
Both scenarios limit growth. To counteract this, it’s imperative that you consider the whole funnel and implement strategies designed to drive both customer acquisition and conversions.
6.They prioritize relationships
Many marketers seem to place developing and maintaining relationships at the bottom of their list of priorities. The reason being – in my experience – is that relationships take time to build and are difficult, if not impossible, to scale. It can also take a while to see an ROI on your efforts. I think this is a mistake. Healthy relationships with clients and customers – even competitors – can make a big difference to your business. People don’t just buy from those they trust – they tell others, too. Competitors, on the other hand, can impart wisdom and advice. They might even offer chances to collaborate. Growth marketers know this. Marketers that don’t are missing out.
7.They know brand matters
If you’ve ever visited the supermarket and chosen a product from a well-known brand over a cheaper own brand version, you’ve been influenced by branding. By extension, you probably have an understanding of why this is. There have been numerous studies on how a brand name affects consumers’ perception of the product. The general consensus is that we (consumers) perceive the branded products to be better quality than their unbranded equivalents. “Both brand names and brand packaging do influence the consumers’ quality evaluations.” Influences of Brand Name and Packaging on Perceived Quality In other words, consumers trust names they know (at least, they do if that brand has a history of producing quality products). To incorporate brand-building into your growth strategy, you first have to understand what a brand is. It’s much more than colors, fonts, or a logo. A brand is how your customers perceive you. Unfortunately you can’t control this, but you can guide them in the right direction. To do that, it’s essential your marketing portrays your company in a consistent light. This means only proceeding with campaigns that align with how you want to be seen, and being ready and willing to adjust or drop campaigns that don’t fit.
8.They’re never satisfied
Growth marketers don’t find something that works and hit repeat. They know there is always a way to do things better, and they’re programed to try and find it. This kind of attitude is essential to being successful in growth marketing. Stopping when you do something “good enough” will hinder growth and ensure the brand never achieves its full potential. If this mindset doesn’t come naturally to you, practice. It will eventually become habit. “On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.” James Clear, “How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit?” Start each day with an analysis of the day before. Run through everything you did and ask yourself how each thing could be improved – how something could happen faster, with less friction or for less cost. Then, find a way to put those improvements into action.
9.They do more than the competition
Some companies believe that to make their business a success they have to do as much as, or be as good as, their competition. Growth marketers know this is rarely enough. Instead, they strive to do more than the competition. This can mean many different things. These are just a few that come to my mind:
Offering better and more personal service (this is a good goal if you’re up against big brands that are lacking the personal touch).
Targeting a sector of the market your competitor’s overlooked.
Leveraging marketing channels they’re not using.
Building a faster website with a better user experience.
Long-term it’s going to pay to try and outdo your competition on all fronts, but initially, you might want to focus on identifying and targeting their weak spots.
10.They create a ‘Wow” experience for their customers
Measuring metrics and gathering data’s important. Essential, in fact, for any growth marketer. But it’s not the be-all and end-all for successfully growing a business. A customer is not just a number. Their worth to you should not be determined by their lifetime value or monthly spend. They are people, just like you and me. If you don’t recognize that, eventually they will leave you for a company that does. Take this campaign from TD Bank. The bank asked customers to come and test out a new ATM, but instead of an automated teller machine, they were presented with an automated thanking machine. Instead of cash, the machine handed out gifts. The gifts were highly personalized, including tickets to Disneyland for a mother who had never been able to take her kids, and plane tickets for a mother with a sick daughter in Trinidad. Exactly how TD knew what their customers would appreciate I don’t know, but that’s not the takeaway here. This is something that really made customers go “WOW” (and generated plenty of positive publicity alongside it). That said, you don’t have to break your budget to create “WOW” experiences. Something as simple as a handwritten note slipped into an order can go a long way towards making customers feel valued. That said, the best “WOW” experiences are individual to each customer. It’s when you go above and beyond to help a customer in need that you really make an impression on them – as we saw TD do. Thankfully, doing something similar yourself is easy (and again, doesn’t have to be expensive). Just put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself what would make you go “WOW” if you were in their position and (within reason) do it.Thinking differently If you understand and enjoy marketing, you probably have what it takes to become a successful growth marketer – you just have to change your mindset. For me, the biggest shift has to be moving away from a waterfall style strategy that favors fixed, long-term plans, to a much more fluid and agile approach. If you can start to measure everything and adapt your strategy in line with the results, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful growth marketer. How do you believe successful growth marketers think differently? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below:
The 3 Elements Needed for Effective Growth Marketing
Whether you work in marketing or you’re just on the lookout for creative ways to grow your business, chances are you’ve come across the term “growth hacking.” You might have even tried out a few “hacks” for yourself. Truth is, the term “hack” is misleading. It suggests we’re using programming skills to “hack” the system […]
Whether you work in marketing or you’re just on the lookout for creative ways to grow your business, chances are you’ve come across the term “growth hacking.” You might have even tried out a few “hacks” for yourself. Truth is, the term “hack” is misleading. It suggests we’re using programming skills to “hack” the system for faster growth, which isn’t quite accurate. I prefer to talk about growth marketing – a facet of marketing that uses scalable tactics and testing to grow a business fast. But how is this different from what any other marketer does? In most cases, the key difference between a “marketer” and a “growth marketer” is the range of their focus. As a general rule, “marketers” concentrate on things like brand awareness, website visibility, and new customer acquisition. “Growth marketers,” however, will look at every aspect of the customer journey – including (critically) what happens after someone buys. Image Credit Growth marketers will also use the product as the catalyst for growth, whereas marketers tend to look at customer acquisition more holistically. “Growth hacking focuses on product to move the needle.” Kate Harvey, Chargify Of course, the disciplines overlap, and the end goal for all marketers is the same – to grow a business – but this doesn’t mean marketers will automatically be effective at growth marketing. For that, you’ll need these three things:
1. Comfort with different channels
Many marketers have their preferred channels for driving traffic or new leads. They’re comfortable using these channels and they’ve gotten good results with them on more than one occasion, so they think, “Why rock the boat?” This is shortsighted, and when it comes to growth, massively limiting. Good growth marketers know they have to diversify the channels they use; that a hunger to keep trying something new is essential. What’s worked before won’t necessarily work again. Your product or audience might be different, or the channel itself could have changed (just think about how Facebook’s organic reach has declined over the years). Image Credit A good growth marketer’s arsenal will include a whole bunch of different channels. This might include everything from email and paid ads to viral referral loops and influencer marketing – and a whole lot more in between. They’ll constantly be exploring and experimenting with new channels, too. First off, they’ll use a mixture of experience and experimentation to establish one scalable channel that moves the needle. Once that’s in place and driving growth, they’ll test out new channels alongside it. If you want to be effective at growth marketing, it’s essential that you too get comfortable using lots of different channels concurrently and are able to keep pace with how those channels are changing (both in terms of the channels themselves, and the impact they’re having on your client or business).
Being able to switch between tasks and react fast to changing landscapes – in other words, to be agile – is essential for growth marketers. “Agile, in the marketing context, means using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating. At scale, a high-functioning agile marketing organization can run hundreds of campaigns simultaneously and multiple new ideas every week.” Jason Heller, David Edelman and Steven Spittaels for McKinsey This is because growth marketing is a very experimental discipline. Most of the time you’ll be working on a new brand, and you’re not going to know how this brand matches up to different channels and how effective those channels will be at driving that brand’s growth. You can make an educated guess based on past experience and information other marketers have shared, but that’s it. It’s just an educated guess. A growth marketer’s job is to find out what actually works for the brand they’re growing, and to switch it up quickly when something fails to deliver. This means performing tests and trying out new channels in short sprints, while getting comfortable making informed decisions at speed. You have to be prepared to work on different tasks day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. You might be split testing landing page elements one day, working on top-of-the-funnel content the next, and reducing churn the day after that. If you’re not happy working on such a diverse range of tasks and swapping between them as needed, you’re probably not cut out for growth marketing.
3. A focus on the full funnel
A good growth marketer recognizes that not all website visitors or prospects are created equal – that each one has different pain points and is at a different stage of the buying cycle. Of course, we can’t create a strategy that targets each visitor or prospect individually, so we have to find some way of grouping them together. This is where the sales funnel comes in. Image Credit A sales funnel groups prospects according to their position in the sales cycle. At the top of the funnel are those that are aware they have a “problem” but they don’t know how to resolve it. These are also people who have never been exposed to the brand. For myself, a prospect at the top of the sales funnel would be someone who wants to grow their company, but has no idea how. At the bottom of the funnel are qualified leads – someone that is genuinely considering becoming a customer. This generally means they have made an inquiry, or, depending on the product, started a trial. Effective growth marketing considers the whole funnel. Focusing on a single stage is going to hold back a brand’s growth significantly. It either means you’re not working to draw in new potential leads, or you’re not doing enough to convert those leads into customers. That said, there’s a trick to targeting the sales funnel, something that can speed up how quickly you grow. When implementing a growth-based marketing strategy, most marketers start from the top of the sales funnel. That’s logical – get people to your site, and try to convert them later – but it’s wrong. Instead, try starting further down the funnel. Target those who are most likely to buy, and then try to convert them. To do this, you might use:
Paid ads (both in the SERPs and on social media – particularly Facebook).
Only once you have a steady stream of new customers from this strategy should you work your way up the sales funnel and target those at the start of the sales process (i.e. those who know they have a problem, but not how to fix it). To do this, you might use:
Blog content (especially 10x content).
Video content and guides.
Creating content for other industry sites (primarily guest posts).
Will you get results if you start at the top of the funnel? Yeah, probably. After all, the most important thing is to ensure you’re working on the full funnel – but you’ll get better results, faster, if you start from the bottom and work your way up. What do you think are the most important elements needed for effective growth marketing? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
The Ultimate Guide to Convincing Your Boss to Send You to Growth Marketing Conference
So. You probably already know about Growth Marketing Conference. Nearly everybody in the industry does… It’s the leading event in the growth marketing space – featured in both Forbes and CMO.com – and it’s not hard to see why. Growth Marketing Conference hosts world-class speakers – thought leaders from Neil Patel and Sean Ellis, to […]
So. You probably already know about Growth Marketing Conference. Nearly everybody in the industry does… It’s the leading event in the growth marketing space – featured in both Forbes and CMO.com – and it’s not hard to see why. Growth Marketing Conference hosts world-class speakers – thought leaders from Neil Patel and Sean Ellis, to Andrew Chen and Rand Fishkin – offers actionable, hands-on workshops taught by real-world practitioners, and showcases the latest growth marketing tools and technologies.
Growth Marketing Conference is our one-stop-shop for growth success.
And as we both know, growth matters in our industry. Because if we’re not growing, our competitors are. And we simply can’t afford that. We have to be competitive. Now more than ever. So, let make take the lead on this. Send me to the Growth Marketing Conference so I can learn the strategies and tactics that really move the growth needle, and network with big brands like Oracle, Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I can choose between:
Growth Marketing Conference B2B, June 28-29 in San Francisco
Growth Marketing Conference Global, December 6-7 in San Francisco
Have you ever said any of the following? “We have a great product. We just need someone to market it.” “If we hire a growth hacker, they’ll shake up this place!” “We don’t want a traditional marketer. They just don’t get it.” The explosive hype around growth hacking could lead any human to believe […]
Have you ever said any of the following?“We have a great product. We just need someone to market it.”“If we hire a growth hacker, they’ll shake up this place!”“We don’t want a traditional marketer. They just don’t get it.” The explosive hype around growth hacking could lead any human to believe that one magical unicorn marketer could provide everything your company needs to be successful. What you don’t hear in the news are the stories of hires gone wrong.
Hiring the wrong marketer can set your company back months, and in a startup can cost you precious runway that is the difference between surviving and bankruptcy.
On top of that, on LinkedIn alone there are at least 7 open positions for every self-identified growth hacker. You’ll see lots of people putting that title on their resume without knowing what it means. There’s no certifying body for growth hacking, no diploma or test one must pass to use the term. I’ve been one of those bad hires, and as a result I’m passionate about helping founders learn how to hire and work with people like me. Based on my thirteen plus years’ experience as a growth hacker and marketing executive in technology companies of all sizes, I’ve put together a 6 step process to help every company to find-and retain-great marketers. No matter your size or growth prospects, you can benefit from the skill sets of Silicon Valley marketers, who are often called growth hackers. Here’s a summary. I’ll share more details in this free webinar on Friday November 6, 2015
Step 1: Who are you?
Hiring a great growth hacker starts with YOU. The more you understand your working style and your company’s needs, the more specific your job description will be; and the less time you’ll spend weeding through candidates who aren’t a fit.
Ask yourself these questions:
What must happen in the first 90 days after hire for me to believe this person is going to be successful? Consider business objectives, tests run, channels explored as options for evaluating success. Where possible, put metrics on this. Good growth hackers like to see metrics, and in the beginning you’ll be a better judge of what’s realistic and what isn’t. Tip: If you don’t know what needs to be done, consider working with a temporary CMO or your advisors to craft a marketing strategy first.What must happen in the next six months? By this point your new hire should be starting to add real value. What happens then? Are they hiring more people? Finished installing a critical tool like Optimizely or KissMetrics or Sprinklr? Tip: can’t see 6-12 months ahead? Consider temporary tactical help while you test channels and determine the exact skill set you need to hire. Prove the ROI of a marketer to yourself. If you are not at product market fit, be extra careful in committing to a full time marketing hire, especially if you don’t anticipate allowing them to work on the product. A marketer cannot save a bad product and you cannot growth-hack your way into product-market fit.What kind of person am I? For example, if you’re a linear thinker, you have to consider the pros and cons of working with people like you and not like you. Who is going to drive you mad? What are your must haves in your marketer? Detail orientation? creative ideas? A writer? A numbers maven? Focus on your MUST Haves. Tip: Ask your colleagues to help you understand what you’re like to work with and their opinions of the type of person you work best with. Their answers may surprise you!If I’m part of an established company, what is my culture like? Are you linear, fact based, methodical? Take care when hiring too far outside your company’s culture. One person can’t change that, and may be frustrated within it. Acknowledge to yourself what your company’s challenges are.
Step 2: Who are They?
You wouldn’t hire an engineer without knowing whether they code in Java or Python, would you? So it goes with marketers and growth hackers. They aren’t interchangeable any more than a front end engineer is with a back end engineer, even though they’re both called engineers. When it comes to growth hacking, there are at least two types based on mindset. Of course not everyone fits neatly into boxes, but it can be useful to think of them in two buckets to start.
Often with a sales background or mindset, prospectors have a “hustler” quality to them. You’ll find them relentless, unstoppable, able to deal with failure and hearing no, trying again, and again and again to find exactly the right channels. They’ll remind you of a shark, always on the move, hungry, and eager to try a thousand things. They love to solve problems like “What’s a cheap way to get people to buy our product?” They prefer to try 10 things and see which works, instead of planning-usually because there is little data at this stage to go on. Prospectors are best for companies still in early stages, or who have the culture to support the marketer’s desire to try new things. In these early stages where the marketing channels are still being tested, the prospector excels at finding exactly where the gold is, based on data and results. Within large companies prospectors can become frustrated with politics and risk aversion unless shielded by their managers.
Often with a mathematics or professorial quality to them, miners extract growth, and tons of it, from the areas of opportunity defined, especially on top of fast moving, large companies. They can identify those opportunities within giant data sets, but are less effective when it comes to an open field and no data. Prospectors like to solve problems that are clearly defined, for example: improve conversion rates by 100%. They prefer to analyze, then act, measure, and act again. They will bring discipline, focus, and rigorous execution to your growth operations, and love to be in cultures where the data makes the decision, not the highest paid person in the room. They tend to be more patient and better suited to complex cultures that move a bit slower than the average startup. What happens when you put the wrong person into the wrong job? Here’s an example:
Step 3: Crafting a Job Description
By now it should be clear that just copying and pasting someone else’s job description isn’t the best way to find the right growth hacker for your company. Make this job description uniquely yours. Tip: Ask questions that candidates must answer in their cover letter so they aren’t tempted to reply with a form letter.
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Step 4: Begin Search
In addition to posting on linkedin, and your own website, you should post on angel.co, growthhackers.com, and watch the hashtag #growthhacker #socialmedia, #CRM, etc. for candidates who might be good fits. Tip: If you are in need of someone to manage social media, observe the person’s feeds to discover who they are. Marketers can’t hide their personalities, so if you see someone isn’t on social media, you’ll want to dig deeper in an interview before assuming they can handle it.
Step 5: Screening Resumes and Doing Interviews
If you’ve done your homework and written a specific, intriguing job description, you’ll find that you have fewer, but more interesting candidates. People who do not answer your questions or address your specific needs are likely not serious candidates. But you can also start to look at resumes to see exactly what type of results the person is proud of. Are they good at overcoming adversity? Specific in the numbers they hit? Show a sense of humor or culture awareness? Focus on those folks, and ignore anyone who doesn’t make you excited to meet them. After all, if a marketer can’t market themselves, how well can they market your company? Everyone is on their best behavior in interviews. The key is to be able to cut past that into who the person really is. In this webinar we will talk about this more deeply, but it starts with you being vulnerable about yourself, which encourages candidates to do the same. The smarter the candidate, the more polished they’ll come across in interviews, and cracking that facade is a key way to find the right person for you.
Step 6: Enabling Success
Congratulations! You’ve hired someone amazing. How do you keep them around? Hopefully you’ve done your homework in the interview process to understand what makes this person tick. But if not, especially if your company is growing fast, you’ll need to stay connected to your new hire. Because of the demand for quality growth marketing professionals, if you aren’t nurturing this person’s career, they have options to go elsewhere. This doesn’t mean bowing to their every whim, but making sure you’ve done your best to remove obstacles to their career growth and to get their job done. Help your growth marketer navigate inter-departmental politics, smooth the road with senior managers; and acknowledging their successes while encouraging risk taking; all contribute to a growth hacker being happy for a long time.
Have you hired a growth hacker? How did it work out? What did you learn? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Program Associate at Southwest Energy Efficiency Project
Trying to mind the gap between creative and tech, Caryn Massey is Creative Marketing Consultant from Phoenix, Arizona. She is constantly learning and challenging herself to become a more fluent tech marketer. When she is not increasing her tech skills, you can find her taking photos with her Canon 6D.