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When I first started working at 23snaps, I was a bit apprehensive about the shift from web marketing to mobile marketing. I had much less experience in acquiring mobile app users, and it seemed like a daunting task.

Online, there are literally billions of channels through which to acquire new users – as every other page on the web is a potential direct marketing channel to send people to your site. Mobile, however, has relatively few direct paths to get the app to a user’s phone. In nearly all cases, users need to go through one of the top app stores – either Apple or Google. Sure, you can drive them to the app page in either store, but it seemed to me when I started at 23snaps that was a much less effective way to gain new users.

So, as I tend to do when faced with a new challenge, I turned to the internet, blogs and books. Someone, I figured, must be writing clear, simple and actionable guidelines for mobile marketers to help them acquire new users cost effectively and keep them around. After all, there were nearly 1 billion apps in the App Store – that’s a lot of companies, developers and mobile marketers who have had plenty of time to figure out mobile user acquisition.

But the resources available were meager and vague – or expensive and vague. Mobile marketing, it seemed, was not a particularly well documented area. Whether it was because those who were successful didn’t want to give away the trade secrets, or there was a perception that acquiring mobile users required a huge budget or simply there wasn’t enough collective knowledge yet, even in this fast-growing industry, it seemed I was pretty much on my own.

For nearly a year now, I have been working at 23snaps and experimenting with a huge range of the obvious, and less obvious mobile app marketing channels and I think I’m starting to get some ideas about what’s working and what’s not. Most tellingly, since I started, 23snaps has steadily grown in user numbers, used and loved by hundreds of thousands of parents and their families. But in that last year, I haven’t really noticed any significant developments in the quality of online resources for mobile marketers.

So from Monday, I’m going to be starting a new series of posts called Monday Mobile Marketing Tips. I’ll describe one thing that worked particularly well (or didn’t) in helping 23snaps grow so significantly. The idea is that someone could try to incorporate these marketing tips quickly, easily and cheaply each week, as part of their ongoing business activities, to see if it works for their app.

I’m really excited to start, as this will also be a record of some of the things I’ve tried at 23snaps. I’m also looking forward to feedback from other mobile app developers and marketers to  find out what works for them – and hopefully build a more useful and actionable guide to launching and marketing a mobile app for others going forward.

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.


For couples

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.

Blog Pivot

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!

Happy social media week! Did you know that this week is international social media week, as sponsored by the fantastic Meebo? A whole week dedicated to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the like. As almost a follow up to my last post, this has involved a number of tech meetups.

Last night was the official kick-off for the week in London where the who’s-who of London technorati came together to network, chat about the industry and drink while tonight was the 10th Shoreditch Twit, the Twitter meetup for Shoreditch (the area where the Spoonfed offices are located) locals.

The idea behind social media week, I believe, is to show case an industry that was in its infancy in 2009 and will grow in both scale and professionalism this year and decade. I’m lucky in the sense that both London and Spoonfed seem to be embracing this trend and I’ve met a number of local tech-savvy marketers, PRs, entrepreneurs and tech consumers who are interested in driving the industry forward.

For social media week, why not take a look at Twitter if you haven’t before, or see how Flickr can help you share photos with friends. At the very least visit Meebo and see how they can simplify and consolidate your online communication, just to get in the spirit of the event. Have a great Social Media Week and welcome to the consumer-created web.

Yesterday I attended Tomorrow’s Web Conference in London, a fantastic teens in tech event. You can read my full writeup on Techettes.

I like to think back fondly on my days as a budding entrepreneur; reselling on Ebay at 11, coding my first website shortly after… but at the end of the day, I was still just pawning off duplicate Beanie Babies and making Jelly Roll pen fan pages (thank goodness that element of my digital footprint has been firmly erased). No, my youthful tech exploits are placed decidedly in perspective with the astounding talent, creativity and technical prowess of the teens at Tomorrow’s Web 2009, the UK’s first ever by-teens, featuring-teens, for-teens tech conference.

Read on…