What growth hacking really is

14 replies
Growth hacking are two words that I keep hearing since I started working at Social Media and Marketing, they are everywhere, and I even saw a lot of people looking for growth hackers to design and run their campaigns.
However, altough the words are quite known by everyone, it really took me some time to find out what growth hacking really is, most of people just described it as a clever technique that generates more users and followers or something like that.
I put together some concepts regarding what Growth Hacking really is:

Growth hacking isnt the best term, but it describes a new process for acquiring and engaging users combining traditional marketing and analytical skills with product development skills. In the past, marketing and product development departments were often at odds where marketing groups would be spending significant amounts of money to acquire users but couldnt get any development resources to build something as simple as new custom landing pages.
The founding and growing process of Twitter is an interesting example
Many many users were hearing about Twitter each day from press, blogs, their friends and were signing up. But none of them stuck around. Typical marketing efforts in the past would have been to use email newsletters to bring users back, or spend money on display retargeting. But instead they invested in the product. They made some research and tried to learn what the precise moment was for a new user and then rebuilt their entire new user experience to engineer that more quickly. It turned out that if you manually selected and followed at least 5-10 Twitter accounts in your first day on Twitter, you were much more likely to become a long term user, since you had chosen things that interested you. And if we helped someone you know follow you back, then even better. This I believe is an excellent experience of growth hacking.
However there is no magic formula for growth hacking, only experiences, some of them were sucesfull, many of them were big failures.
Any attempts at artificially creating growth patterns such as spamming friends on Facebook or Twitter, may result in spiky numbers, but rarely adds retained users. Its kind of like eating empty calories. Instead, you have to search through your data from your more active and passionate users and discover the deep core patterns that encouraged those users to become active. And then you have to build sustainable features that help attract users on a continuous basis such as good viral flows or great SEO landing pages, and then an experience that helps users quickly understand and become active within your product.
I think the best part of the current hype around growth hacking is that it helps remind everyone how important it is to grow your product. You need to learn from your data and understand what innately in your product helps your active users attract new users, and then create solutions that help engineer that to happen more quickly and more often. Knowing how to build and market great products have always been core attributes of successful companies.
As I said at the beginning, my experience in Social Media is quite fresh, and in growth hacking is even fresher, im still making my first steps at this industry, so these were just some few thoughts I have in my head.
What do you think? how would you accurately describe growth hacking?
#growth #hacking
  • Profile picture of the author Dabby Rouse
    Growth hacking is an iterative customer acquisition and retention strategy that sits at the intersection of product development and marketing. Coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis back in 2010, growth hacking bakes marketing into the product by relying on social dynamics and network effects.
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  • Profile picture of the author MeelisM
    I would describe it as....

    How to scale your userbase up really fast and high without using the same process all the time (using PPC to get leads and turn them into users)

    You need to find a way to make your customer your salesperson, so they start sharing your product or service and invite other users in.

    You need to have a really good product for that though.

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    • Profile picture of the author jonbowsir
      Originally Posted by MeelisM View Post

      I would describe it as....

      How to scale your userbase up really fast and high without using the same process all the time (using PPC to get leads and turn them into users)

      You need to find a way to make your customer your salesperson, so they start sharing your product or service and invite other users in.

      You need to have a really good product for that though.


      I would argue you don't have to have really good product, just a good enough product you can reiterate. Twitter wasn't up a quarter of the time (I saw the fail whale more times than I care to remember) during that growth phase.

      Amazon Expert/Consultant
      Check out my WSO: Crushazon.com/fe-wso

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  • Profile picture of the author toysoldier80
    Thank you for sharing. Do you happen to know what year it started? I have been hearing this term a lot and I had no idea what it was. I could have just easily Googled the term, however I was under the impression it was just slang. Thank you for clarifying the terms relevance in social media marketing online.
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  • Profile picture of the author VilPietersen@
    Good post!!
    Big in the game!
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Growth hacking is illegal.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mike Korsanov
      Hardly it is illeglal. Otherwise it would not be used by a number of solid legal companies.
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    • Profile picture of the author ballisticscan
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      Growth hacking is illegal.
      Illegal depending on how you do it.

      But generally growth hacking is perfectly fine. This thread describes it well on what it really means.
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  • Profile picture of the author michaelch
    I think it is more towards alternative/creative/grey area marketing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Korsanov
    It's alternative, creative, but far not necessarily grey. Some techniques are illegal or unethical, but many marketers use legal ways to boost growth cheap and rapid. Don't be misled by "hacking" term, it's not about illegal computer / networking activites here. It's close to "life hacks" term, i.e. now-hows, shortcuts and smart ways to achieve outstanding results in some sphere.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    hacking is a bad term. it implies there is some secret short cut.

    there are no short cuts to success. it's working smart and hard, consistently, day in and day out.

    In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt "Trust, BUT VERIFY" ~ Ronald Reagan

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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    In plain English, growth hacking is all about designing your product in such a way that it triggers those who use it to spread the word about your product.

    Examples: hotmail / linkedin / FB's friend referral and mass invite system / airbnb

    What people don't realize about GH is that it can be applied to ANY format.. instead of just a standalone product. Even blogs can be growth hacked.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewEnglandah
    I believe that it is just a new trendy word for marketing. Marketers have been using what ever strategy is available since the first printed word appeared.
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  • Profile picture of the author PivotalData
    Growth hacking is a series of data driven marketing experiments. Data is the driving force behind successful product and marketing strategy development that's based on facts, rather than assumptions.
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