Tuesday, April 28, 2009
You've worked hard to perfect your application - it represents the end result of hours of planning, coding, debugging, and polishing. Now that it's done, you need to get the word out on the street about your fantastic product, especially if there are other competing apps that aim to serve the same audience.
For many developers, the only marketing effort that they will ever undertake is the development of a website that showcases their software application. This approach, however, is less than ideal because websites take a while to become established on the internet - web traffic in those first few weeks of existence will be very low, almost nonexistent, and small developers need to start making sales immediately if they are to survive to fight another day. Those sales will not be forthcoming if you're waiting for Google to index your site (it can take a while). And no matter how well-designed, your site won't have a very high search index ranking if no other sites link to it, which is highly likely since no one knows about it.
Twitter represents a real opportunity for small shop developers to promote their software, but only if your relationship with the Twitterverse is carefully established and cultivated. There is a world of difference between "marketing on Twitter" and "effective marketing on Twitter". Here are some tips on doing it the right way.
1. Register, then Follow Your Key Demographic
Your journey through the Twitterverse starts, naturally, with registering an account and profile name. Try not to pick a profile name that's overly cold and corporate, but do try to tie your profile name back to your company or the product that you're developing, so folks will associate your Twitter account with your product or service. Be sure to fill out your Twitter profile with a brief description of yourself, your product, and a link to your website.
After you've endured the arduous process of selecting your Twitter name, do a quick keyword search across the Twitter service and start following other Twitter users who do what you do, or are otherwise part of your target demographic for your software. Developing graphics software? Follow folks who are employed as graphic designers, or who design graphics software. By following their tweets, you may just learn a thing or two that makes your software even better. When you start following someone, they'll be notified, and, after sizing you up, may start following you as well. This is how you build your Twitter audience. The best Twitter networks focus on a core group of people allied together around a common theme.
2. Be Open, Be Yourself, and Use Twitter as a Sounding Board
Not counting the Twitter accounts of sites that offer breaking news, daily discount offers, and other "in-the-moment" opportunities, businesses that view Twitter as just another electronic billboard are missing the point and are often puzzled when they don't attract many followers. Successful users of Twitter attract followers because they do and tweet things that interest people, or otherwise offer a peek into a lifestyle that others may not see everyday.
You should start your Twitter account well before you plan to launch your software application, keeping your tweets professional (no vulgarity, for example) but personable, dropping hints about yourself in ways that demonstrate that you have quirks like everyone else. In other words, be a person on Twitter, and not a corporate presence or a PR intern or a robot that spews status reports about the latest build. When you reach a level of comfort with Twitter, and have developed some followers, start tweeting about your application, and how its development is progressing. It even helps to tweet about drawbacks, hurdles, and disappointments in your software development. The point is this - get people interested in you, and they will also become interested in what you do.
Keep tweeting about the progress of your application (along with the usual quirky details about your life), and you will build buzz for the application's release. If you run into a coding problem, ask Twitter! Inviting the counsel of others makes them more likely to be personally invested in your success. It also helps you to build a better network by connecting with others who may be running into the same issues.
3. Promote Your Launch and Encourage Feedback
This is where a lot of companies start on Twitter, and this is where they fail. A company will register a Twitter account, and within an update or two, they're literally screaming at people to buy their product. Since no one knows who they are, and it's obvious that they've created a Twitter presence just to sell things, they get no takers. But you, having built up a measure of credibility on Twitter, now have an audience of followers who've followed the evolution of your project from drawing board, to coding, to debugging, and now - at long last- to launch day. You may want to consider offering a discount to customers that purchase your software using a link that you post to Twitter, or holding a contest to give a free copy of the app away to your 500th follower. No matter what, it's your launch day and you should have fun with it.
Recruit your Twitter followers to help you spread the word of your launch by re-tweeting your launch announcement, and keep them updated throughout your first few days with tweets reporting how well your sales are progressing. You don't have to divulge specific numbers, but something along the lines of "Incredible first day sales! Thanks to everyone" will be appreciated, and further help to put yourself out there as a real, live person behind the Twitter account. Solicit advice and questions from those who buy your app, and be sure to respond promptly - you can use their suggestions as a starting point for the next version, which will give you even more to tweet about after the launch!
Using these tips, you can continue to accumulate greater numbers of followers, keep your existing customer base updated on your progress, provide immediate customer service, and generate buzz leading up to the release of each new version of your application.
Posted by Nico Westerdale at 1:15 PM