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This is part of a series about growth engines. This builds on the work of others, so at the end of the series I will provide a list of books and blogs I suggest reading for more info…
For the sake of simplicity I am going to focus on business. Other types of organizations can apply the ideas laid out here but they may need some translation.
Q1: What are growth engines?
Growth engines result in reoccurring sustained growth for an organization. Each organization has a somewhat unique way in which their engine operates, but the components themselves are not unique. Organizations have generic classes of growth engines that operate in a consistent way across the board.
Q2: Why do I need to understand growth engines?
Understanding growth engines helps a product team understand direction, and iterative speed. Growth engines also give a marketing team insights into opportunities and strategies that maximize growth. In short understanding how your business grows will provide substantive insights into how you should market, develop and cultivate the organization you are working for.
Q3: How many classes of Growth Engines are there?
There are 4 ways businesses grow and with rare exception these are inclusive for all. On the surface this may seem unlikely, since most businesses are looking to cut through noise with a legitimate differentiator from other competitors. However these differences don’t change the underlying growth engines in any meaningful way.
#1: Pass along… Pass Along growth happens when a product is worthy of talking about. Generally the value is established so strongly that users feel it must be shared. This often happens with “Cool” products and products that are particularly cost efficient. Most PR activities are devoted toward some form of pass along. Online we call this viral marketing…
#2: Growth through use- Usage growth happens anytime using the product directly generates a branded impression. Cars are a great example of this in the real world. Facebook’s frictionless sharing is another great example, and it is how spotify grew so successfully.
#3 Through Paid Advertising: This is a relatively straight-forward equation, every 1,000 impressions (CPM) = x amount of revenue. If that amount is 1+ a % it makes sense to use advertising as a growth engine. Put it simply if I spend $1 in advertising and get a return of $1.15 I am going to advertise. This actually doesn’t work for every business, and it explains why Return on Investment is so stressed with in social media.
#4 Through repeat use: The idea here is that increased user frequency will result in higher revenues, normally mature and well known about products fall in this class. I don’t want new customers I just want customers to spend more.
That concludes part 1… Stick with me next week’s blog will have a little more forward momentum.
Up Next: How Growth engines work with Social Media…
I’d like to throw my hat in and push this a little further…
Analysts should recognize that spam is a signal and shouldn’t be ignored. If you are seeing spam, and it continues to increase there is a signal that you should work off of. The importance of the brand is actually growing… Oddly enough spam means the brand is experiencing success.
If you are running a scale report do a 2% random sample… yes you may end up reading 2,000 tweets 1,000 blog post starts and 500 Facebook posts but you will have a statistical sample to work with. After a few weeks it becomes a quarterly exercise. Use original users to run the 2% random sample and count the number of spam posts a user is posting. Now you have a reduction equation, after a few weeks you actually have another data point and trend line. If SEO is on your horizon, this is actually a win.
Another way to limit spam- Identify the worst offenders and exclude them from your data… if someone is posting 1,000s of spam posts cut them out (the boolean -“…” is accepted on almost all tools.) Source filters are another powerful tool that should be used by the analyst to remove problem source. Source filters can also limit scope of a report to only include paid/ gifted/ PR targets in reports.
This works for paid bloggers as well, however, if your organization is using paid bloggers there should be a list kept somewhere that can be focused very easily into a source filter.
Finally use the power of the word cloud… Almost every monitoring tool out there gives the analysts a word cloud tool. Do some research, is there a keyword that should not be in the cloud? If so you know you need to do some refining on the data baseline.
A solid topic profile is a living breathing thing, the analyst should be making small refinements everyday. The profile nearly breaths, expanding and contracting little by little. If this is done correctly and carefully, the data will retain consistency and validity. That said, I think every analyst should be fighting to get a longer view of the data. A multi-year view always adds unique prospective and information. Its important to note everyday the internet changes, so, historical data needs its own lens (I have now crossed to a different blog all together)