[CONTENT MARKETING] How I learned to love  ❤️ growth hacking

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I’m really not a fan of buzzword bingo. So when I first heard the term growth hacking I simply thought “oh great another buzzword that I now have to use.” Or ignore. ???

I’ve thought of myself as a content guy for many years. Even when I worked as a journalist there is a certain purity of thought around the art and science of telling stories that attempt to be unbiased but also add context to our communities.

When digital transformation managers came to journalists to talk about the importance of digital metrics many journalists were pooh-poohing that they should be shooting for higher  readership online. “Does that mean every story needs to be about some pop culture thing that gets a lot of traffic?” was one thing that I heard for example.

Then when I did my first content “marketing” project we focused on the content and not the marketing at all. That’s why marketing is in quotation marks there. We produced content but we didn’t market it at all was  basically what it came down to.

We didn’t think of ourselves as the marketers. We thought of ourselves as the content producers.

Then I started projects like Eastern Iowa News. Basically I wanted to prove a concept of community news for the community by the community. Of course producing content alone wasn’t enough and even doing that by myself wouldn’t work.

So I basically growth hacked my way to about 25% market penetration by involving the community and constantly adjusting tactics to continue growth.

Related: More on Eastern Iowa News

So what does that mean? I was constantly looking for ways to grow my audience. Goal  No. 1 was to grow the audience. Goal No. 2 was to be relevant to the audience and not annoying while growing it.

We used all kinds of techniques to do that. Twitter, Facebook, T-shirts, word-of-mouth, etc. The tactics only were limited by imagination.

And that’s really what  growth hacking comes down to. You are obsessed by the numbers and the growth and the results. Really, it sounds a little bit like business in general. If you don’t show results or bring in revenue it’s not a growing business.

Growth hackers build things.

So when good content marketers use growth hacking techniques and even think of themselves as growth hackers they can grow their audience and make the biggest impact as quickly as possible.

But it still felt weird to make the switch to loving the art and science of growth hacking.

First of all, I didn’t like the word and then some of the techniques can easily cross the line to being spammy. So I try not to cross that line. 

And then the first time I explained to an executive that I use growth hacking techniques, I actually  apologized. I think my words were something to the effect of: “I really don’t like the term but basically what I’m doing is I’m growth hacking. Sorry?” ??

Of course it can be dangerous  using that terminology because it sets the other person up to have a negative connotation of the term to begin with. Although that hasn’t happened to my knowledge too much yet but people typically ask what it means. Plus, I stopped apologizing for it.

And ultimately all of us in content marketing and business as a whole want to grow our audiences and businesses. Growth hacking helps.

Be obsessed with the metrics. Measure, adjust and never stop implementing. It’s really the only way to grow your audience to critical mass, which means that it’s big enough that it can support and also benefit from your business.

In addition to the business reasons, growth hacking – like content marketing – is actually kind of fun. Sometimes we can think of it as a game. How do we perform better today than we did yesterday? So if you are competitive that is another positive.

Here’s to growing your audience and business.