This is a guest post from Ankur Nagpal. Ankur is the largest individual developer in the history of the Facebook platform, with over 10,000 applications and a reach of upwards of 200M non-unique users. Ankur also teaches Hack the App Store – an online course on boosting mobile distribution by better leveraging mobile app stores.
Let me tell you a story.
It was back in 2007. I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley – following the progress of a locally incubated startup, Brainfall.com. Brainfall was built with the simple goal of providing fun, engaging personality quizzes.
Normally, I wouldn’t care. But, I had just started developing Facebook applications and I was on the verge of releasing a quiz app so I paid close attention to Brainfall.com.
I was concerned. They had more content than I did and.. truth be told, probably higher quality content as well.
Yet, within two weeks I had 10X as much traffic.
Why was this? Simple. I broke out each quiz into its own application.
It turns out users were far more likely to add “Dr. Phil’s Personality Test” or “How Good a Lover Are You?” instead of “Brainfall Personality Quizzes”.
Is this an isolated example? Absolutely not. I spent the next three years of life repeatedly taking advantage of this principle.
“Send Your Friends a Diwali Gift” went viral in India the way “Free Gfits” never did.
“Crazy Taxi” went viral the way “Free Flash Games” never did.
“Seinfeld TV Quote Quiz” went viral the way “TV Quotes Quiz” never did.
And the best part? This still works today. And even more powerfully on mobile.
Most mobile application discovery happens via App Store Search. The more application titles you have, the more keywords you are competing strongly for.
Consider Udemy. Udemy is a marketplace for anyone to teach anything. However, within the app store, the Udemy app only ranks well for people searching for “Udemy”. In other words, they’re likely not attracting a lot of new mobile users.
What if instead, Udemy started launching individual courses as applications. Boom – horizontal distribution to the rescue. Almost instantly, they’d be competitive for a whole new array of keywords from “Learn HTML“ to “Photoshop” to “TOEFL Exam Prep”
Now, imagine what would happen if Meetup.com was interested in growing its user base and gave group owners a downloadable application binary that they could submit to the App Store?
Even if a small percentage of meetup group owners have the technical chops to submit the binary, it would still mean hundreds of applications competing strongly for keywords from “Growth Hacking” to “New York Soccer” to “San Francisco Singles”.
Boom shaka laka boom.
P.S. Want to get my $20 Udemy class temporarily free in exchange for a tweet? I’ll walk you through horizontal distribution and six other of my favorite growth hacks I used on the Facebook platform.