growthhacking

x10 growth on our Google+ Page in 30 days: How and why

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NB: All numbers are quoted as of Monday, March 17th

Last time, I wrote a short piece about art, giving advice about creativity. This time, I want to share what I’ve done about it:

My buddy Amaury & I started project  “Oh I Like Art”  in Oct. 2013, simply put:

“We share art we like on social networks.”

> On Feb. 17th 2014, we had +200 and 23 followers

> On Mar. 17th 2014, we had +2,000  and 292 followers 

We tried to grow the page for one month as an experiment, we do not wish to get “as many followers as possible”, but instead to get a happy, engaged and healthy community. Why do we do that?

> Creativity

For the last few years, I’ve been following blogs and websites weekly about design, photography, calligraphy… I’ve been on Pinterest for the last two years. I also keep tabs on 35+ blogs, some of them posting 50+ articles per day.

I love going through all that content and curating it for “Oh I Like Art”, it helps me practice creativity, it’s like drinking water from the firehose 🙂

> Learn Growth Hacking

If you don’t know what Growth Hacking is, here is an extreme example :

@HistoryInPics (…) is run by two teenagers: Xavier Di Petta, 17, who lives in a small Australian town two hours north of Melbourne, and Kyle Cameron, 19, a student in Hawaii.” (source)

@HistoryInPics started in July 2013 and has (7 months later), 1.3 Million followers. They also own EarthPics, whose growth has been even faster (1.03 Million followers after… 67 tweets). I blogged about it recently, read more here.

> I don’t have the knowledge nor the skills to reach that scale but I still want to learn by trials and error how to do Growth Hacking through this project.

– Using the right tools: On a daily basis, I use many tools to do more in less time. For this project, I use FeedlyIFTTT.com, bufferapp.com, “Signals” from Hubspot.

– Using the right sources: I leverage Feedly as a Google Reader remplacement. We pick art from primary sources (artists blogs/platform) or curation platform (art-sharing website)

> What has worked to grow our Google+ page so far:

– High quality standards (all pictures are HQ, we always link our source, we always name the artist, they are the real stars!)

– Use of #Hashtages, seems like an interesting amount of people do lookup by #hashtags, we mark 3-5 tags per post.

– Following when “+1-ed”, I systematically follow people that “+1” our art, if possible right after they interacted with us to keep momentum. This isn’t so scalable, but has shown good results so far. Best results come from following people that have recently (within 24 hours) commented and shared  similar art to what we promote, creating a community starts by involving those who have a strong voice: If someone follow a Design Page, see a nice Typography, then share it, that person is likely to enjoy what we do too. Sophie has recently joined the project to help with all things community management.

– Posting on communities when it’s relevant, respectful and timed. For us, we interact in communities like Typography, Graphic Design, Street Art… People that have joined communities are often more involved and familiar with the Google+ platform, it’s a great way for us to approach like-minded art lovers.

– Be available when people comment: I respond and/or +1 their comment. When we reach a milestone, eg. +1,000 or 200 followers, or ask an artist we love to do a special creation for our followers. In return, we promote their online creations/portfolio. I would like to engage even further with the community, so that Sophie and have start having more contact with our followers.

200_followers

A creation by our friend Gabriel Martzloff

> Build a community

You need to keep it fun. I see interacting with those who follow us as a privilege, not a chore. They trust us enough to hang out on our page, I intend to keep that up.

Today, our Google+ page has +2,000 and 292 followers. I am really happy of those numbers, those are people enjoying creations from great artists. Among our followers, there’s almost no one we know – a mere 14 people – which is brilliant: all those people are interested enough to follow what we share.

I’m often thinking about Seth Godin saying the 3 elements of success are Patience: “The shortest way to go where you want to go is often the long road”, Bravery “The easy and safe path are already taken” and Generosity: “No one cares what’s in it for you (as a leader). (Successful people) care about the community, pay into the community are building a tribe not because it’s good for them but because it’s good for the community.” (video source here)

It’s critical to have a simple value proposition and stick to it: “we share art we like” for us. They are many other ways and techniques that could help us kickstart our growth even further, but I wish to remain focus and shoot for a healthy and happy community. Some people running Google+ Pages out there have a rogue approach, and that’s not cool for me (cross posting the same image many times over in different communities).

Amaury and I share one post per day through Bufferapp (a great app), I also post 2-3 times a day on community, my workload is about 2 hours per week and I am loving it. I do make sure that – whatever happens – our posts get through EVERYDAY. When I went away to sail across the atlantic in December last year – 24 days offline – we were still up and posting.

Since this is a “side project”, we wish to keep doing what we love, as a consequence grow our follower base and learn and see what makes most sense then.

> Expectations

It seems that most things in life revolve around our own expectations. Many feelings we experience come from the gap between what we expected and what we really have.

As long as Amaury and myself are happy with the project, I consider it’s a success, so for any additional person following us it’s an amazing success! At an incremental rate, we’re looking at minimum “+7,000” by the end of the year, which is quite cool.

We’ll shorty start experimenting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and tumblr thanks for our webmaster Olivier.

> Er, why do you use Google+ for that project?

– Facebook has the “friend and family” syndrome. People will like your page because they like you and want to support you, it makes for a jolly fanbase, but then what? I’d rather find perfect strangers interested in what I share rather than “sympathy” likes.

– Facebook heavily filters what Facebook Pages are sharing. Just like when you publish a status, if you have 500 friends, 10% might get to see it. If it’s popular (liked), more will see it. That sucks, without mentioning huge “click farms” in developing countries offering to sell you Like through Facebook or other platforms.

– Google+ is much more visual as a media than Facebook, which is use for image sharing. Pinterest is quite cool too,

Also, Google+ gathers large communities of involved strangers gathered around a particular interest. Few years ago, I started what is today Google+ largest community on public speaking. Some communities, such as the Street Art photographers allows you to tap in a community of 115,000+ photo fans, that’s huge!

We will keep experimenting with different platform, since Bufferapp lets use share updates through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, then a IFTTT integration helps to auto-publish on Tumblr.

> Internet trends

If you’re looking at scaling/growing something online, sooner or later you’ll end up reading Andrew Chen’s blog, the pope of growth hackers.

I’ve been following Andrew’s blog for the last few years, here’s the main trends he is seeing on content creation for 2014:

“A fresh stream of compelling content brings the bulk of any social product’s primary audience – a large group of passive consumers who just want to flip through all the cool photos, videos, tweets, and more, maybe commenting or liking a few they really feel strongly about.

-Andrew Chen

For him, it’s based on trends: Short-form, Ephemeral, Mobile, Curated Content, Anonymous Content. For “Oh I Like Art”, leveraging Google+ as a platform allows us to tackle the first four.

There’s no shortage of creators of art and information on the internet, but the volume of information makes it quite hard to cut through the noise: We need more curators.

Here’s a quote from Marc Andreessen (one of the most prominent Venture Capitalist in the US):

“On the Internet, there is no limitation to the number of outlets or voices in the news chorus. Therefore, quality can easily coexist with crap. All can thrive in their respective markets. And, the more noise, confusion, and crap — the more there is an increase of,  and corresponding need for, trusted guides, respected experts, and quality brands.

Remember: Most great businesses are not big businesses. This market is plenty big enough for thousands of high-margin, small to medium-sized businesses.

Marc Andreessen (full article here)

Here’s what’s happening in that space, note that I haven’t listed many of the players between 10,000 – 1,000,000. Note the numbers of Google+ vs numbers of Twitter/Facebook.

Sophie is currently looking into the 1,000,000-10,000 space, it seems to be that Google+ is a great media to start our kind of project. Also, I hope to reorganize the way we share very soon to centralize all art we find on our Tumblr, then share it automatically on Social Networks. I’m also toying with other ideas, including Art contests, building a mailing list and other things.

> “Life is short — you should spend time working with people you enjoy.” @EricSchmidt

Working on this project, I get to collaborate with people I like. I’ve met like minded designers, programmers and entrepreneurs. The other day, I took the stage at an EPITECH event (french engineering school) to pitch part of “Oh I Like Art” concept, the reception was quite positive, I intend to keep working this way. I’ll keep asking people that impress me to collaborate with us on this project, some will say no, but many say yes 🙂

Typography work performed by Mathia Sivel, a young french talent.

PS: If you like this project and wish to know more and/or give us a hand, shoot me an email: rodolphe@dutel.fr

/EDIT, March 17th 10pm:

This entry was posted on March 17th at 4:04pm GMT+1, the page had +1,995. At 10:00pm GMT+1 – same day – the page had +1,739. I’m currently investigating how a “256” drop just happened, since we never had any drop since Oct. 2013 🙂

//EDIT 2, March 18th 9am:

I asked around, it seems to be a known issue, it’s unclear whether it will be fixed. We’re up +94 overnight – organically – anyways 🙂

///EDIT 3, March 18th 1pm

All the missing +1 are back, we are boasting +2,111 🙂

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