Mobile App Developers – Build Bigger Audiences by Focusing on Brands not Products
Mobile app developers often get pigeonholed as being in the “technology” business. While it’s true that apps are a work of technology, they are also an exercise in storytelling and creating emotional connections. Just because your app has great features and intricate code doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect the “soft skills” side of marketing your app.
Because the truth is, many of the most successful apps have taken on a life of their own by creating a strong emotional connection with their audiences and by building a larger community of people who love the app and who identify with what the app represents.
For example, if you look at the success of a game like Angry Birds, it has become its own unique subculture of people wearing Angry Birds merchandise and posting photos on Facebook with Angry Birds stuffed animals.
Here are a few ideas for mobile app developers to help you create stronger emotional connections with your audience:
- Think about experiences, not just features: Many app developers believe that marketing an app via social media is simply a matter of adding social sharing tools and other features within the app. While this is important, because you want to make it easy for people to share your app, it’s not enough by itself. You have to give your audience a compelling experience that makes them want to share your app and engage with your brand. To do this, you should make your community feel like an “in-group” with its own unique group identification and vocabulary. When Angry Birds posts a request to Facebook like “SQUAWK if you love Fridays!” they are helping their audience to relate to their characters in an emotional way. This is a technique that every app developer should learn from.
- Change the dynamic to an emotional connection: One of the mistakes that app developers make in using Facebook and social media is that they only use Facebook to post routine updates about new levels, new features or new offerings from the app developer company. Instead of using social media only to make sales pitches, keep in mind that you’re not just selling something, you need to try to create a sense of mission. You’re trying to create a larger community of people who enjoy your app and who relate to the larger purpose behind the app. Request fan art. Run competitions. Post quotes directly from the characters in your games. Add value with exclusive content and offers. And, most of all, be authentic.
- Build alliances with like-minded communities: When you are trying to introduce your app to a wider audience, think about the places where your target audience spends time and then start conversations with them there. If your audience is on Pinterest, why not start posting images that put your app within a larger context? For example, if the central character in your game is a cat, you could post pictures of cute cats as a way of attracting cat lovers. As another example, if you make a game based on fantasy or role-playing, you could try to build a fan base by appealing to fans of those genres. If you make an app that helps people exercise, lose weight or operate their homes and businesses in a more energy-efficient manner, you could reach out to the existing communities online that are already interested in these larger issues.
Too often, app developers get overly focused on selling their specific product and pointing out their app’s unique features. While it’s understandable for developers to enjoy and relate to these more “technical” aspects of marketing an app, most people respond to emotional appeals. Instead of just selling your app as a bundle of features, take a step back and consider the broader experience that your app creates. Identify the community that already has a built-in level of interest for the mission and purpose of your app. Your app will sell more successfully if you can create a strong brand foundation that takes on a life of its own – if you build a loyal community of followers who love your app’s story (not just its features), they’ll keep coming back to buy from you again and again.
What’s your take on this? What are some examples you’ve seen of effective story-telling and community building with marketing apps via social media?