I have been running Casting Call Club for about 7 years now and it's grown entirely word of mouth, hitting 700k sign ups just this month. When we launched Reforge, it was the same story. Entirely word of mouth. Bootstrapped to $10M per year.
Mostly, I'm of the opinion that you do not need ads to build a successful product.
In fact, you probably shouldn't run ads.
So when I see things like this on Twitter, I get confused.
Is this word of mouth, or is this using bastardized paid ads, or is this just low-quality contest frenzy?
From Levels' own data, he spent $10k and returned $0 in revenue directly. He did not publish all the data around it, like impressions, clicks, and shares that since made him money from this.
Curious, I thought I'd give it a go. My Twitter profile has significantly fewer followers (2.4k) than Levels (150k), so I knew that my impact would be less, even if I gave away $10k. Plus the product I was promoting was a brand new product that A) has no traction at all and B) would have a smaller ARPU than RemoteOK. So I scaled the price down to $300.
Even though I have a sample size of two, the retweet count seemed to correlate roughly with the Dollar amount prize being awarded. So my $300 reward turned into roughly 300 retweets. Levels' $10k rewards was around 10k retweets.
It's not reflected in this image, my Twitter followers increased around 130 as a direct result from this tweet. I think this was largely due to the fact that I run @CastingCallClub (10k followers), which retweeted this tweet.
Is this better than twitter ads?
This type of tweet would be a promoted tweet, where I would be charged based on billable action. In this case, it would have been link clicks, not expands, retweets, likes, impressions, etc.
The charge per action would have been $1.68 to $10 per website click, so the cost for this tweet would have been: $189.84 to $1,130
Overall, I think it turned out pretty well given my limited reach.
- I was able to beat cost of a normal Twitter campaign (more than likely)
- I looked good to my base of users. They aren't in the tech space so much, so it was novel for them to see someone not giving money directly to BigTech (even though it wasn't my idea).
Will I do this again?
No. This felt like a big distraction when I could have been building word of mouth features that would've yielded better results.