Using Social Media in Your App Marketing

When you hear the term social media, what comes to mind? You're probably thinking of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, YouTube, and many other websites that enable you to interact within a community of users. But social media is much more. It also includes blogs, RSS feeds, LinkedIn, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and other social marketing activities we will discuss in this chapter.

One of the biggest mistakes developers make is thinking that using social media will generate leads and sales of their apps. In reality, social media sites are more about creating relationships with a community of users and potential buyers. Eventually, the community will become buyers if you've gone about your relationship building in the right way. In order to be successful with social media, you must establish yourself as a respected participant in your area of interest and earn the respect of that community. This takes time and steady work.

In this chapter you will learn about the different forms of social media marketing and how they can improve your effort to reach your target market. Some apps, such as games, lend themselves well to the social media approach because younger age groups tend to play the games and also tend to be consumers of social media advertising and marketing.

Harnessing the power of social media does afford app marketers the ability to reach large audiences of groups that share common interests. The great benefit of social media is that they are typically free for you to sign up. Within minutes you can register an account and be logged on to a social media site. There are thousands of sites you could join, but remember that social media sites are like being at a party. You can only be a part of a few conversations to really be effective. Jumping from conversation to conversation at a party is not effective, and the same holds true for social media sites. You simply won't have the time to devote to more than a few of them on any consistent basis.

Choose your user ID with some care. If you are required to use your name, then use your real first name. If you are asked to create a fictitious user ID that will show up when you post comments, blogs posts, reviews, and so on, then choose a user ID that will help your brand and your app. If your company is Apps R Us, then try to use "appsrus" for your user ID. Always be thinking of how to extend your brand or your app's name wherever you can.

Registering for social media sites may be free, but that's where free ends. There is a cost as far as your time. It takes time to develop a following in social media, and it takes time to establish a presence. So, even though you may get online and registered quickly, the real work comes when you want to get established among your community. You have to earn the respect of others in the community by visiting and commenting on different posts, adding value to conversations, and answering questions where you can provide insight.

The activities of social media will open up opportunities for you to talk about your apps after you build a relationship with your readers. If you barge into an online community with the expectation that you can tout your app, you will be in for a surprise. Other members of the community will recognize your intent and will either call you out on your posts or ignore them. You must earn the right of being a part of the community without outward attempts to cash in. Longer term, your results will be positive as you make new connections, establish yourself on the Web, and reap new sales of your app.

Here are some ideas to help get you get started using social media to establish a presence in your community and become a positive influence:

• Start soon to establish a presence. You cannot launch an app and hope to be known in your community a day or week later if you have never visited or made a single posting before. Building up contacts and friends takes time in the real world, and it's the same online. If you have not done so already, sign up for a few sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Android and Android tablet app blogs that pertain to your type of app. Do this before you even start coding your app, if possible, and you'll be ahead of the game.

• Actively participate. In order to be seen, you have to post comments on a regular basis. Join groups and discussions that are focused on your type of app. Be helpful in your posts with information that others will find valuable. After you have become established, you can begin to talk about your app if you have posted it to the Android Market. If you haven't posted your app, you'll want to be careful about how much information you disclose so your idea doesn't get copied in full. Chances are very good that someone is developing a similar app anyway, but not exactly like yours.

• Pitch bloggers and influencers. Over time you will have a greater degree of comfort asking bloggers to discuss your app in one of their blog posts. This is one of the fruits of having a relationship with people on the Web. An influential blogger can help your sales tremendously if his or her blog is widely read or the post is picked up by other bloggers. If your blog post is mentioned by Digg, for example, you could see sales of your app skyrocket.

• Write an article or two about your area of expertise. If your area of expertise is jewelry making, then write an article offering tips and advice about jewelry making. If your expertise is finance, then give people some good financial advice with no strings attached. People love articles framed around "Ten Tips" or "Five Reasons Why " These types of titles pique our curiosity and we want to read more. At the bottom of your article you can post your contact information, your product website, and maybe the link to your app if you're lucky. Always ask the editor of the publication what you are allowed to post at the end of your article.

• Offer to write a guest blog. Once you get to know a few bloggers and have established a rapport with them, you can approach them about writing a guest post for their blog. Many bloggers will agree to let you do this. Why? Because, often they are looking for ideas and ways to beef up their blog posts. Having a guest blogger gives their blog a shot in the arm and creates additional interest from their readers.

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