Growth Hackers: How Facebook, DropBox, AirBnB and More Became a Success

Growth hacking is the next biggest thing!—according to folks in Silicon Valley like Andrew Chen. There’s even a Growth Hackers Conference which was held earlier this month in where else?—Silicon Valley. This week’s blog post will attempt to answer some questions you may or may not be wondering already.

What is the core philosophy behind Growth Hacking?

Traditional marketing isn’t really helpful for startups and so growth hacking was born. Traditional marketing happens after a product has already been developed. Growth hacking starts from the very beginning with product development. Don’t just market a product, build a product that is inherently easy to market. Successful examples of this include Zappos, Dropbox, and AirBnB.

To illustrate an example: Dropbox launched in 2008 as a file hosting service where users can get a certain amount of storage space for free and bonus space for referring friends. Dropbox also makes it easy to share files on Facebook through app integration. By building these features into the service, Dropbox makes it so that each new user will have an incentive to invite more users. (This is called virality, or a viral loop.) And that makes the service’s marketing more profitable.

How is this different than traditional content or inbound marketing?

In a way they’re all related. Inbound marketing utilizes pull tactics and requires quality content [marketing]. Growth hacking implements those tactics into the product.

What was different about AirBnB’s growth hack strategy?

AirBnB is “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone” as described in their “About Us” page. At first glance the service seems similar to Couchsurfing to me, a site which has changed a lot since I signed up to be a member in January 2011. But anyway, AirBnB succeeded through Craigslist integration. Instead of attempting to build their own audience, they tapped into Craigslist’s huge amount of users by providing an automated posting tool.

Resources:

The 5 Phases of Growth Hacking

The 6 Best Browth Hacks to Get Customers Without Having to Pay for Them

How to Be a Growth Hacker: An AirBnB Craiglist Case Study

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hack (A 103 page pdf, not as daunting as it sounds thanks to handy graphics)

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