5 Great Startups that Hacked Early Growth

1. Facebook


a fundamental understanding of your product – and specifically what the key reasons people use it are. its amazing to me how confused many people are about this and unable to really discern motivations and root causes from byproducts and outcomes. knowing true product value allows you to design the experiments necessary so that you can really isolate cause and effect. as an example, at facebook, one thing we were able to determine early on was a key link between the number of friends you had in a given time and likelihood to churn. knowing this allowed us to do a lot to get new users to their “a-ha” moment quickly. obviously, however, this required us to know what the “a-ha” moment was with a fair amount of certainty in the first place.

– Chamath Palihapitiya

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Pinterest Growth Hacks: How did it grow so fast?

Growth Hack #1: Insta-follow

Upon signing up for Pinterest you are automatically following a select group of high quality users. This in turn helps alleviate the cold-start problem, where I have to go looking around the site to find boards and people to follow. Instead I get a sampling of high quality content immediately filling my feed.


Growth Hack #2: Facebook Friend Follow

When you sign up for Pinterest with Facebook, your friends who are already using Pinterest auto-follow you and you follow them back. But all this auto following doesn’t seem to happen all at once but is staggered over time so that you get periodic notifications that someone has just started following you on PInterest. This brings you back to the app again and again. This also helps alleviate the cold-start problem and gives me a social incentive to maintain my presence on the site, lest I look boring in front of my friends.


Growth Hack #3: Always Available UI

The user interface of Pinterest, while seemingly uncluttered, hides a tremendous amount of features and functionality within immediate reach. For example, I can perform almost every action that I would take anywhere on the site all from within my feed, including: commenting, liking, re-pinning a post, following a friend. With one more click to view a pin I can then follow the author of that pin, like/tweet/embed/email the pin, follow the board the pin is from, follow the website source of the pin.

Having all of these possible actions omni-present streamlines the amount pages that I need to navigate to and from to perform any desired actions and has the effect of increasing the overall amount of interactions and actions that I perform with the users of the site and the content being posted and in turn increases the overall flow of new visitors and traffic.


Growth Hack #4: Infinite Scroll

Try and scroll down your pinterest feed and you will never reach the bottom. The auto-scrolling technique that pinterest employs when you scroll down the page produces a state of ‘flow’ that is very easy to get lost in, spending minutes or even hours scrolling through pins without being mindful of the clock.


Growth Hack #5: Social Bookmarklet

The “Pin” bookmarklet is a low friction tool that does not require immediate action, but if you want to complete the Pin from the stash area its straight forward to do so. Visual browse requires scanning or skimming images rather than reading through laborious text, which is also a lower friction search experience.


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In A/B testing there is no such thing as a free lunch.

In A/B testing, as is the case in the rest of economic life, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

In my experience, most split and multivariate tests are set up to maximize for a certain goal, e.g: registered users or email subs, but often fail to account for the un-intended consequences of such “optimizations”. The problem with changing your ui to try and maximize for one of these goals is that you are failing to measure the dis-utility that often gets created by cluttering or fragmenting the continuity of your interface or landing page.

For example, say I am trying to increase visits and awareness of a new feature of my product by adding a link to it on my homepage. Typically an experiment would be constructed by adding a new ui element and testing it’s copy/color etc that call attention to the new call-to-action that I am trying to optimize for. The problem with this kind of test is that by only measuring click-throughs to my new product page, I miss measuring the missed attention that was not given to another part of my interface.

Since the attention of the website visitor at any given moment is a finite resource, it is impossible to add something without detracting something at the same time. I have yet to see an a/b testing framework that accounts for this by default.

The end result is a bunch of “maximized” local optimums that don’t look or behave cohesively and often appear ugly, as I would imagine is likely the case with plenty of fish.

My answer on Quora to: I’ve noticed that when designs are refined through A/B testing, the res… http://qr.ae/MXiZ