VENTURES AFRICA – For a startup that has only one or two founders and limited or scarce resources the greatest headache is always about getting users to come onto the platform quickly enough and hopefully creating a continuous growth of usage by the target demography.
If you are trying to set up your own startup company there may be little but effective ways to attract early users/customers and get people out there to know about your startup and probably use or test it. The first few hundred users of a startup can be very crucial for the midterm and short term future of the startup.
Here are smart ways you can wipe up a little frenzy around your startup and get people using your services or products as quickly as possible. Some of them are tips from seasoned entrepreneurs from the Nigerian business space.
Get a Test User Group
In business many times everything isn’t money. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. A free, cost effective way to get the people testing or using your initial service or product offering is to create a select team of early bird test users. This team will consist mainly of target users for whom your startup is created and maybe a couple of bloggers, writers and media persons who write or report on the niche around which your startup is focused. A test user group is very important as it enables the founders of the startup get quick, real time feedback on the various processes and aspects of the platform. Acting on the negatives and failings as reported by the test user group will quickly position your startup to bring a better, more pleasing offering to the wider target audience as you roll off from beta to go full blast. And one more sweet thing about test users; if they are impressed with what you and your team have done they will surely spread the word around to a few of their friends, associates and colleagues.
Put Out Quality Content
If your startup serves a large enough target consumer base content marketing is one of surest and low cost ways to reach out and get people trying out your services or product. If you are a good writer you can work on creating useful articles that will be of great use and interest to your target market and submit to a couple of well visited blogs and websites in related niches.
Your aim in creating content will be first to pass on great tips and ideas to the readers who based on their impression of your content will click through to website to know more about you. Co-founder of Bufferapp a social media posting and scheduling tool used content writing (articles and post submissions to good websites/blogs) to drive over 70,000 new users to sign up on Bufferapp within a 6 month period. Creating valuable content and getting websites/blogs with good traffic to feature them may be a bit tough but if you focus on creating something of value to those blogs and their readers your startup will be better off for it. The great thing about this is that you do not need to spend a dime and startup founders who are bootstrapping can easily grow early users using this strategy.
Use Social Media Strategically and Actively
It is no longer news that one of the first things you do for your startup is to create a social media account on the major social channels such as Twitter, and Facebook. What however will help your startup get little traction of users is how you use the social media. After creating your company account on Twitter you will need to follow influential users in the niche market you are targeting. Use your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to share and promote your articles if you follow the sontent strategy outlined above. On LinkedIn a quick way to get likely users will be to search for and join groups whose members are likely going to want to have a look at your startup. Regularly share useful information and ideas via your social accounts.
Social media is a powerful tool for today’s entrepreneurs who do not have the purse to embark on normal traditional or even web advertising. The way you use it can go a long way helping your startup get talked about and used by a few of the target market. According to a study by Mashable users on Facebook, people spend the most time looking at a brand’s wall versus any other element on the page. This means that becoming active on your company’s social media pages will get more attention from the market you target. We tested this idea sometime ago by increasing the activity on our Facebook page and we witnessed a very pleasant increase in the interaction levels as well as in the rate of new likes. The increased activity which our fans liked was always shared by some of them to their friends and invariably got us more likes each week than we probably used to get.
The Power of Videos
If your startup does something that can be visualized in a creative and interesting way go ahead and create videos on various aspects of your startup. Your videos could go viral and gain you far more attention and new users than any other single free strategy could. YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing platforms have made it easier to create popular or even extremely popular videos because of the viral nature of these platforms. Viewers who watch your videos and like them can easily share to friends and colleagues. Just this year alone a music video by PSY ‘Gangnam Style’ passed 1 billion views. On the more business side the viral launch video of The Dollar Shave Club which racked up 4.5 million views within the first three months of release on YouTube, comes to mind. 12,000 people signed up for The Dollar Shave Club service within 48 hours of the launch. This gives a good picture of how useful video creation and sharing can be in acquiring early customers for a new startup if used well.
Connect With Brand Advocates/Influential Online Personalities
In today’s world there are people who may not be recognized in their neighbourhood but are super champions in the online world. Seek out such influential persons in your industry who lead sizeable followings on social media. They could be comedians, writers, brand advocates or even ordinary citizens with a knack for social media and online publicity and your job is to connect with them and get them to test your startup’s services or products and perhaps put some word out for your startup. Getting to these people will require a lot of selfless thinking on your part. Why would such influential person want to look at your startup? Come up with answers that will solve his or her problems. Believe it or not every influential person or celebrity has unique challenges and issues and if you can come up with interesting ideas that can tickle their fancy you could be in for a load of publicity from getting them to attract some sort of publicity to your startup company.