It’s easy to fall in the trap of treating user acquisition like straightforward logic. Posting to Facebook will increase visibility, increased visibility will pique interest, interest will lead to clicks, clicks equal new users.
It’s also easy to see why we fall in this trap. Blogs detail how Startup X successfully trialblazed a user acquisition strategy. Despite the twists and turns, the result is usually the same: millions of users + acclaim. The stories feel foreordained. In turn, we’re a little too eager to treat their roadmaps as rules of the road. So, when we find out that one of those rules doesn’t apply neatly to us, it’s a good reminder that there is nothing straightforward about the logic of user acquisition.
That long-winded intro brings us to our recent user survey. Not surprisingly, it was surprising. A majority of our users do not play fantasy sports. Our users really want real-time scoring (we’re working on it!). But most of all, Facebook as an app discovery mechanism has been pretty much useless.
Our app heavily integrates with Facebook. If a user signs-in with Facebook, we pull down their name and profile picture. This functionality, alongside Facebook’s single sign-in, has proved really useful. We also publish a user’s picks and successful challenges on Facebook using the OpenGraph, a technology that Facebook unveiled in 2010 that allows apps like ours to publish custom stories.
Here’s how we imagined things would go with OpenGraph: our app publishes a user’s stories to Facebook; the stories pique a friend’s interest; at some point that friend decides to click on the story; at that point we’ll knock his socks off so he’ll for sure download. We read blog after blog that seemingly couldn’t overstate OpenGraph’s power.
Our app has published 90,000+ stories, which have generated 840,000+ impressions on news feeds, timelines, and tickers. That’s a staggering number of anything to do with something we’ve made. Those impressions surely must be driving user growth, right? Our survey says otherwise.
Out of 150 responses, guess how many said that they discovered us through Facebook? Two. Two people. Instead, the vast majority of our users found us by searching the AppStore… good ol’ SEO. That’s not how the blogs say it’s supposed to go. Facebook is supposed to be distribution on steroids. But now we’re re-realizing the importance of making our app highly discoverable in the AppStore.
Maybe it’s our fault. It’s absolutely possible (probable, even) that our published Facebook stories are not as engaging as we had thought. We will work on publishing more interesting content.
Still, we wonder if Facebook is too saturated with noise and competing content to be a viable platform for app discovery. Assuming that 1.8% is a correct value to use for all our users, then 840k+ impressions through the OpenGraph have generated ~160 users from Facebook. That’s 5,250 impressions per user gained.
So where do we go from here? Well, first we’re going to take these survey results and start acting on the responses. Next, we’re going to do more research into improving the discoverability of Pickmoto through normal AppStore searches.
And then, we will take a hard look at our OpenGraph use and try to figure out why others’ success isn’t translating to Pickmoto. We don’t think OpenGraph is worthless. It’s still a powerful (FREE!) advertising tool for a bootstrapping startup like ourselves. But the survey did teach us that it’s not as straightforward a solution as we first thought.