In a perfect world, your startup has thousands of dollars set aside and already earmarked for marketing. You also have resources for user education for your app post-launch. But we know that’s not always the case. If you are a young startup, you may have no choice but to bootstrap market your app.
Enterprise-level companies typically have robust in-house marketing teams. They can afford to contract getting the word out about their app to a state-of-the-art marketing agency.
However, smaller companies and startups typically need to be a bit more fastidious in their approach to marketing.
And that’s okay — because there’s a lot you can do to bolster your app’s early marketing efforts; thanks to social media and free content creation tools. Read on to learn how you can bootstrap market your app, potentially without spending a dime.
How to Gain an Early Audience
One of the biggest mistakes startups make is waiting until after launch to start marketing.
Having a tangible, real-world product is the priority for many before marketing (and it certainly does make it easier). However, there are many benefits of pre-launch marketing.
Social media is a given for brands today, but it should also be a given for your early-stage startup. Don’t wait until after your app is launched to start organically building your online presence.
Early on, you’re not going to necessarily have the budget to advertise your app. You shouldn’t in most cases while it’s still being actively worked on. This is why we adovacate that you boostrap market your app.
But you can actively invest in building up your own professional and your app’s eco-system. This will help you gain an early audience of supporters — taking advantage of what might otherwise be downtime to start building up your new venture.
To get started, you should create social media accounts for your app as soon as possible.
Traditionally, LinkedIn has been geared towards professionals and those seeking out new work opportunities.
While the professional element has remained, LinkedIn has become a fully-fledged social media network. It has incredibly high organic reach for more than just job seekers.
However, be mindful of who sets up your app’s LinkedIn page. Each business profile is connected to the LinkedIn user who originally set it up.
It’s critical that you do this mindfully. Make sure you have the ability to grant administrative access on LinkedIn to future team members.
Not only should your company’s LinkedIn page look professional, but so should your personal account. If you are an appreneur and do not currently have a LinkedIn profile or haven’t updated it in a while…click ‘file’, ‘new tab’ and get to it!
Twitter: How You Boostrap Market Your App
Some say Twitter is dead after the Elon Musk takeover. Others say it will soon do better than ever.
No matter which side you happen to be on personally, Twitter for brands, influencers, and startups is still relevant.
It can be quite slow to gain traction in the form of follower count. However, it can be argued that the bigger benefit to Twitter is your own account’s follow-ing list.
By curating who you follow on Twitter, you can be on the front lines to the latest in what’s happening in your app’s space.
Follow industry news sources, influencers in the space you admire, accelerator programs and VCs, even tech events. You never know when you’ll come across a tweet with an opportunity to change everything for your app.
Many say that Facebook has changed for the worse in recent years for marketers. It is widely regarded to be one of the worst platforms currently as far as organic reach and connection-making. It just isn’t there right now; at least not for free.
The addition of reels to the ‘explore’ section of the newsfeed has helped some businesses get traction, but that’s only if you’re creating compelling Reels or TikToks in the first place.
As Facebook attempts to remedy growing user dissatisfaction with what’s on the feed, this has seemed to put a chokehold on a business profile’s potential organic reach.
But crafting an entire eco-system around your app is important. At a minimum, you can start by inviting your personal Facebook network to interact with your app’s Facebook page while it gains traction.
Even if Instagram’s vibe seems completely outside of your industry’s lane, there are benefits to having one. It’s just a good look and the visual nature of Instagram makes it a great place to interact with your app’s future users.
Whether you adhere to a grid aesthetic or post at will, you can’t go wrong with the right hashtags (up to thirty per post, by the way).
Instagram also gives preferential feed treatment to accounts that post reels and videos. Keep that in mind when it comes to achieving maximum engagement.
Aim for hashtags with 50,000 posts or less for maximum exposure. Switch them up often for different reach to see what works best.
You can also re-use content and post it to multiple platforms. This is something you can easily accomplish with Reels. These short videos can be repurposed as YouTube Shorts, TikToks, and be posted on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Also, with Instagram, on top of static photo posts and Reels, you can also post Stories. Stories give more timely casual behind-the-scenes looks at your startup’s day-to-day activities! They also can be used to promote events, sales, and other IG posts.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts
If you have to choose which social media platforms to invest in early on, pick LinkedIn and Twitter.
Especially if you are new to the world of social media, trying to be on every platform at once may not be the best strategic move. It’s better to be very active on one or two platforms than barely present on 5.
LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great place to start!
The organic reach, coupled with the professional element to LinkedIn and Twitter’s useful algorithm when it comes to following list curation make them the highest ROI when it comes to potential exposure.
Instagram follows closely behind LinkedIn in organic reach thanks to hashtags. However, it loses a few points just because apps in certain industries may find difficulty establishing an audience early on. Also, it requires more significant investment in visual content creation.
Unlike with the other social media platforms listed, Instagram does not inherently support sharing content curated from third-party sources (besides using a repost app), such as links to relevant articles and current events.
That’s where Canva comes in.
Canva, A Free Content Creation Tool to Help Bootstrap Market Your App
Canva is a great online content creation tool for the photoshop un-savvy.
Canva has built-in guidance tools to help with alignment and a full library of modern templates, graphics and animations to choose from. It can help make your app look like it has a full team of marketers behind it.
The company has mastered the freemium model. It offers a free version of its product that offers a lot of value, and a premium subscription for just $12.99 a month.
While you can get by with the free version of Canva, we wholeheartedly feel that the paid version is worth the nominal monthly fee.
It offers the options to:
- Resize an image to different aspect ratios for cross-posting ease
- Download images with transparent backgrounds and access to premium
- Utilize highly customizable hand-drawn graphics to use in your own creations
We also love that Canva’s user interface creates a handy, makeshift template library. All of your past designs can live there and easily be altered moving forward for any future posts.
And of course, you can also create your own official templates. Just use some of Canva’s templates as a jumping-off point. You can also use the brand color palette accessible on the platform via your team account as well.
Final Thoughts on How to Boostrap Market Your App
The reality is, it’s going to take time no matter what to build up your brand identity. Gaining online traction with your app does not happen overnight.
If you have a limited marketing budget, or nearly none, focusing on organic growth on social media with effective content creation is your best bet. It is how you can bootstrap market your app.
However, it is important to note that one of the biggest cons of this strategy is that growth is often slow. It requires consistent effort over a long period of time. However, the audience that you build is more likely to be genuinely engaged, which is powerful.
We have all heard horror stories of TikTokers who have millions of followers after a quick viral video. However, these followers don’t come to their events or buy their merchandise. This is the last thing you want!
However, by harnessing the power of social media and content creation before launch to build a genuine community, you can successfully bootstrap market your app.
This is how you get ahead of the game when it comes to attracting a following. It also makes marketing your app post-launch that much easier. Take a look at part 2 of this post for more tips!
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Since 2009, we have helped create 400+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.
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