Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked for me (and what hasn’t).
Arguably one of the most important elements of your entire app is the icon. You may have a brilliant application, but if no one bothers downloading it because the icon is unattractive or misleading, it doesn’t matter. On the flip side, a brilliant icon can make the difference between an app that gets passed over in the App Store or one that gets downloaded purely because it looks interesting.
Creating a great icon isn’t easy, but even when you have a number of designs on the table, it’s hard to tell which one will be the best for your audience. And with the App Store approval process taking seven days or more, it’s hard to quickly test different variations (or change your icon if you think things aren’t going well). You also don’t want to change your app icon too often if you can help it as it’s the primary branding material that customers use to recognize your app.
However there is a way to test a variety of icons without actually uploading them to the App Store, and that is to run a small ad campaign where all of your creative elements are identical except for the icon. For a small cost, this will allow you to quickly determine which version generates the most clicks (and therefore is likely to perform best in the App Store).
You can run these ads through AdWords, Facebook, or another platform of your choosing but with a small budget and in a short amount of time, you have a much better idea of which icon will work for your app and audience.
My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: Create an ad campaign on Facebook or Google AdWords to test different variations of your app icon. Is your current icon performing as well as other variations? Use this campaign to decide on the most effective icon before releasing it into the App Store.
In news that has come as a shock to Instagram’s millions of users, the photo sharing service has announced changes to their terms that will allow parent company Facebook to sell user’s photographs to any other company – without compensating or notifying users. Want to opt out? Too bad – if you don’t delete your account by 16 January you have by default agreed to their new terms.
This decision will certainly cause many users to rethink their Instagram usage. But with the world’s largest photo sharing app looking a bit less appealing, where are users to go to satisfy their photo sharing needs? We look at the top photo sharing services for different types of users.
For parents and families
The Instagram news is especially horrifying to parents, who may have posted hundreds of photos of their children to the site. The idea of seeing your child’s face advertising a product you don’t endorse, after Facebook sells your Instagram photo to another company, is the stuff of nightmares. So where do families concerned about privacy go? To 23snaps, a mobile and web app that allows parents to save children’s photos, videos and updates and share them with family and close friends.
Like Instagram there’s a photo timeline and a news feed of the photos of everyone you’re connected to, but there’s no public feed, photos are only visible to the select group you authorize and collections, partner accounts and child profiles are unique features that make 23snaps a compelling alternative for parents who want to look beyond Instagram.
Instagram allows users to set their accounts to ‘private,’ so that their photos are only visible to friends. With their new terms, this point becomes somewhat moot. So want to share a sexy snap with your partner? Pair is private networking for couples, letting you share photos, videos, updates and texts with one other person.
Pair offers more than just photos however, so in addition to images and videos, couples can play games together, draw pictures, even video chat. For those who use Instagram to have private, image-led conversations, Pair might be the perfect alternative.
For a community of photographers
Instagram attracted millions of users with their strong community of photographers, who discovered new content, and friends, through the public photo feed. For users who don’t want to give up the rights to their photos, but are happy to share their photos publicly with a community of likeminded users, EyeEm might be the solution.
EyeEm has your standard photo features, a news feed of your own photos and a public photo stream, but the service also offers up photos tailored to your interests and encourages a highly interactive community, even going so far as to help users organize local meetups. If privacy isn’t a concern, but owning your own photo content is, EyeEm might be the perfect Instagram replacement.
For photo filters and high quality pictures
One of the reasons Instagram became so popular was due to the huge array of photo filters, frames and editing options. Suddenly, with just a few taps, photos could be enhanced, blurred, resized or recolored for all sorts of cool effects. If you want to continue to dress up your photos, Camera+ is a perfect Instagram upgrade.
Lauded by photographers as being as close as you can get to an SLR with an iPhone camera, Camera+ not only offers great photo enhancement features, but also offers high quality zoom, improved flash and photo scene modes just like a digital camera. If Instagram was your go-to app for photo editing, once you switch to Camera+ you won’t look back.
Instagram is going to struggle under the backlash that will arise from their new terms, and in the end, they may find a way to appease their users. But this change just shows how dependent users are on finding the right service, one they trust to do the right thing by their photos and one that truly serves their needs as mobile photographers. Now is the time to explore Instagram alternatives, and 23snaps, Pair, EyeEm and Camera+ could easily be the next big things in photo sharing.
This blog has been a source of stress for me lately. I have years of great content, photos, reports of my travels and recollections of London but after over 30 months of living in London, there are fewer things to share. I go to the same parks, visit the same museums, see the same theatre shows, have the same commute. I even travel less than I did in my early days in England, back when I thought I had six months to see all of Europe as well as explore London.
For a while now, I have begun to wonder if there might be another subject I can cover in this blog – something a bit more relevant to my day to day life and something that will help me think about my professional future. While I’m certainly no expert in business by any stretch of the imagination, the things I am doing and learning while working at Spoonfed Media are so fascinating to me, and so relevant to any job I might take or company I might start in the future, that I want a way to record these lessons learned in a start up environment.
With that in mind, I’m hoping this blog will, to borrow a lean start up phrase, pivot into a new form. While I’ll still share photos from my travels (Italy or Thailand this year… so hard to decide!) and of course highlight any interested London sights and scenes, my main goal moving forward is to start to share some of the general lesson I’m learning about business, start up technology companies, working in a start up environment and hopefully growing a successful business. I look forward to getting started!
The problem, once I’ve passed a month of not blogging, becomes finding a way to get back into the habit with an overwhelming backlog of things to write about. But pushing 8 weeks of no content, I’ve got to bite the bullet and see what I can cover in an epic recap post. Here we go….
On 12 May, not long after my mother got to experience the amazing Fulham win against Hamburg at the wonderful Craven Cottage, Fulham travelled to Germany to play Atletico Madrid in the Europa finals. The momentum of the team, the belief of the fans, the absolute impossibility that they would make it to the finals at all left Fulham fans with every assurance of a win at the end… but it was not to be. In a pub in east London, I felt a true sportsfan’s despair as Fulham played a fantastic match but couldn’t overcome Madrid to take the final trophy.
On 20 May, I attended the first tech event for a long while and made up for lost time with the very well organised Social Entertainment and Tech Breakfast at the Edelman PR firm offices in London. A great lineup of speakers talked about the role social media is playing in the entertainment space, particular in broadcast entertainment.
26 May saw my rather impromptu decision to apply for the UK Apprentice (the show made famous by Donald Trump in the States) and with the help of my Top Floor Flatmate, I whisked off an application, under the vain delusions that I am clearly better than any of the other applicants in the country (that’s the California optimism coming through!)
I’ve been keeping busy at the gym throughout the last two months with 29 May marking the date that I smashed the girls’ record for the indoor triathalon at my gym, shaving about 1/3 off the previous top time. Was quite proud of myself and got to enjoy the rest of the day of an international food celebration with Ann in honour of Eurovision, a strange European tradition where representatives from a variety of European and non-European (but nearby) countries sing terrible songs while viewers from each country vote for the countries that would probably end up on their side in a war. It’s all very strange.
By 30 May I had decided that I would have to start seriously applying myself to GMAT studies if my vague plans for “oh business school someday” were to ever become a reality – more to ensure I don’t forget any more math than because I wanted to get going on the application. I took a break on 1 June to celebrate and panic at the fact that date marked two years since I arrived in England – and to fully embrace my new-found Britishness, I spent the evening on a rainy football pitch, trying out for an 11-a-side girls’ team (translation, I tried out for a girls soccer team).
Not to make myself out to be too healthy and cultured the last couple months, as 2 June saw me indulging in the sin of gambling at a PokerStars tournament where I was seated at a table with Victoria Coren, one of the premiere female poker players in the world (who in addition to robbing us all blind is a gorgeous, talented writer of both a fantastic autobiography and a weekly column in The Guardian). Despite my competition I still ended up placing 5th overall and picked up a bit of a poker bug. Fortunately there was no buy in and no cash winnings otherwise I would have been totally hooked.
To atone for my gambling sins, I surrounded myself with incredibly talented, driven and entrepreneurial women at the Women 2.0 dinner on 4 June where I met some fantastical ladies and had a chance to catch up with a few old friends.
My terror at realizing I had been in the UK for two years was only equaled on 7 June, the date that marked 24 years since I arrived in the world. I had a low-key birthday and the opposite of a low-key cake created by the incredible Top Floor Flatmate Ann.
Although my birthday day was quiet, I was going to make up for it on 12 June with a little celebration in honour of my birth and, more importantly, the USA vs England match in the World Cup. From then on out, the World Cup and work began to dominate my life. Group rounds proved an emotional challenge as the USA was robbed of goals, saddled with horrendous refs and still managed to pull through at the last minute. England was causing heartache for their fans as well with dismal performances against the USA and Algeria.
On 15 June I got to squeeze in a visit with a friend of mine from Colby. Chris was stopping off in London on his way back to America from Austria. He had joined us for my birthday celebration and we managed to catch another World Cup match in a classic British pub for dinner on a gorgeous sunny day. I can’t for the life of me remember what match we saw but it was great to spend the evening with a friend from Colby and his lovely girlfriend in a traditional, riverside pub.
I had a slight break from football on 21 June when Wimbledon kicked off in earnest with Roger Federer coming dangerously close to losing in the first round but fortunately he hung in long enough for me to turn my attention back to USA and England’s performances and on 23 June they both eeked through to the next round of the World Cup, USA amazingly leading the group and set to play Ghana in the match ahead. Landon Donovan’s goal with less than four minutes left to play was probably one of the top 10 sporting moments I’ve ever experiences, right up there with Fulham beating Hamburg and the Red Sox winning the 2004 playoff series against the Yankees.
Poor England was stuck with Germany and not even the loyal fans, generally ready to forgive them early performances, had much hope for the outcome of that pairing. The day wasn’t over yet as this also marked arguably the most epic Wimbledon match in history, the 10+ hour marathon of Mahut and Isner which began before the football and, as I incredulously followed on my phone, continued during my commute, through my walk home, until I got back to my television and so late that they had to postpone the match into the next day (the third day of play).
Sports continued to play a dominate theme in the month. While I was looking forward to the USA v Ghana match, I got some bad news about Fulham – it seemed their manager, Roy Hodgson, had performed so well with the team the season before, and so well as a pundit during the world cup, he was getting eyed by the bigger, and wealthier teams in the league. Rumours were flying that he’d soon be off to Liverpool, leaving us Cottagers behind.
Rumours were still unconfirmed heading into the weekend of the USA v Ghana match but before I could focus on football, I first had a visit from Nina, a close friend from high school who was in London for a few days between Oxford and Cambridge jaunts. Selecting some favourites from my London in 48 Hours tour, we raced around the city on her first day, then took advantage of the sunny weather to head out to Greenwich on 26 June. That evening, while Nina opted for a different kind of British culture (she was off to the Globe for a production of Macbeth) I returned to my local pub for an evening of white-knuckled USA supporting.
The eventual defeat of the Americans shouldn’t have come as a surprise but I was devastated when their World Cup trip ended. My only consolation was that, less than 24 hours later, on 27 June, Englanders would feel my pain (times four) as Germany beat the England team 4-1. A weekend of rubbish refs, the crippling confirmation that Fulham was to lose Roy, and too much pub food was balanced with how fantastic it was to have Nina visiting, and the glorious California weather she brought with her.
With all of the sports of June, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I had done very little work but despite my sports fixation, in fact 90% of my mental capacity was focused solely on Spoonfed and the upcoming product launch for Bullseyehub, our fantastic new bit of software which allows companies in the entertainment space to better communicate with their customers. My role at the company transformed into full-time bug tester as we barreled our way through June and to the looming launch party date, by which we needed to have tested, perfected and released Bullseyehub to the world.
I needn’t have worried as our incredible team pulled it off without a hitch and on 30 June, we got to show friends, family and London press what we’d been working on for the last 12 months. The launch night was incredible and something I’ll never forget – one of my proudest moments. I was so rewarding to have been involved in the project from start to finish and to be able to share that with the Spoonfed team as well as the attendees of our launch event.
The good news at Spoonfed didn’t end there. On 1 July, New Media Age, one of the top trade publications for marketing and advertising, published an article about listings websites that heavily featured Spoonfed and some of the great work we’d done with advertisers in the past.
The whole team was ready to celebrate and as a reward for all of our hard work, on 3 July the company directors had arranged a special day out at the horse races (yes, more gambling!). Ladies dressed to the nines (with hats that looked more like small allotment gardens than headwear) strolled through the green paddock while the nation’s top horses prepped for their sprints. The Spoonfed team, of course, celebrated in a private box overlooking the finish line, quaffing champagne, losing unfortunate amounts of money and generally having a wonderful time.
The 4th of July didn’t register on my American holiday radar until I got a text in the morning wishing me a happy Independence Day. I was more distracted by the Sunday Times, which featured Spoonfed once again – a whole article on grads making good with a big picture of our Spoonfed offices. The weather seemed to be celebrating as well and I got to take advantage of the sun with a tennis match on a clay court (the first time I’d played on anything other than a hard court) with Spoonfed director Alex before we gave up our own attempts at tennis greatness to watch the end of the Wimbledon final.
Whew! I knew I’d get there in the end! I’m all up to date with the exciting things that have been happening lately. While I hope to get a full commentary on World Cup mayhem from an England perspective, my most lasting and proudest memories from the last 8 weeks will be related to Bullseyehub, the Spoonfed Media team and our successes as a company. I’m so excited for what the next six months will bring us and am looking forward to the rest of my British summer.
Hopefully there’ll be quite a bit more time to keep my blog up to date.