Jonny Ross
Jonny Ross

Social media entrepreneurs and growth hacker marketing: The dawn of a new business age

Last month Microsoft bought gaming platform Minecraft for £2.5bn. The technology giant reportedly offered developer Mojang $2.5 billion after seeing just one tweet by founder and indie-gaming icon Markus “Notch” Persson.

The original DotCom boom of the late-90s may have long passed, but the vast impact of digital technology and social media innovations continues, with the social media and digital technology entrepreneurs now carving a new niche in the business world. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is now worth an estimated £33bn, making him the 16th richest person in the world, according to Forbes. The power of social media and the impact of digital technology innovations on the corporate world are not to be underestimated.

But how have social media and digital technology entrepreneurs changed the way we do business? And what impact will technology-driven, social and user-led approaches and innovations have on the success of new companies and products in the future?

Everyone has heard of Zuckerberg and Facebook. But there are now some new kids on the block. Back in 2007, designers Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to pay the rent on their San Francisco apartment. With local hotel rooms at a premium due to an upcoming design conference, they decided to rent out their loft space. Rather than use an established rental platform, they built their own simple, more personalised platform to advertise the room.

Fast forward to Spring 2014, this platform, AirBnB, had 10 million guests and 550,000 properties listed worldwide, along with a $10B valuation. This makes AirBnB worth more than Wyndham and Hyatt and means they surpassed Hilton Hotels in nights booked. Read the full AirBnB story here.

AirBnB uses a new approach to marketing and product development that is becoming known as growth hacker marketing. Pioneered by technology start-ups, this marketing technique focuses on low cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing, with technology playing a central part.

Clever technological platforms and approaches (often including established techniques such as website analytics, SEO, A/B testing and content marketing) are used to quickly build market awareness through channels like social media and viral marketing, in place of the more traditional radio, television, newspaper media.

This comes about by taking away the traditional marketing and technology silos that many development companies are structured around, and by getting everyone working together at product design stage to create an inbuilt seamless user experience.

So what can we expect from digital entrepreneurs in the future, and what impact will new approaches like growth hacker marketing have on traditional business models?

I believe that collaboration will be the key to success, with specialisation in new technologies meaning designers, marketers and agencies will need to work together more on a project-by-project basis to bring innovative ideas to the table. Customer experience and feedback mechanisms will also be a vital part of the fine-tuning for new product innovations.

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