How Wood Camera Became the #1 Paid iPhone App
For the past several days, Bright Mango’s Wood Camera photo editor has been the #1 paid iPhone app in the US App Store. That’s the #1 ranked app in the entire App Store, not just the Photo & Video category and as far as we’re aware, Wood Camera is the first photo app to hold the top spot. Since we reached #1, we’ve been crunching numbers and analyzing the factors behind Wood Camera’s rise to the top. We created this post to provide a few insights into our marketing strategies, in the hope that it will prove useful to other developers and informative for the community in general.
When we first launched Wood Camera in the Spring of 2012, we started with a marketing budget of essentially zero. Our limited funds forced us to focus our efforts on getting the word out via blogs, Twitter, Facebook friends, Tumblr, and our Instagram connections. We had a great launch and we were very pleased with the results of our coordinated efforts across the various social networks. We received coverage on several international blogs and tech sites, and a few notable US tech sites such as The Next Web. These posts definitely increased our exposure and we saw noticeable increases in our rankings in the days following each new post.
For the release of Wood Camera 2.0 this past December, we were again working with a limited marketing budget and we decided to rely heavily on our social media network of friends and followers. We roped in just about everyone we know via Facebook and Instagram, and asked them to post photos and links about the new Wood Camera update to their personal feeds to get the ball rolling on an organic level. This definitely contributed to the momentum and helped raise awareness of the update in our circle of friends and followers.
Of all the social networks available to us, we have always placed the largest emphasis on Instagram. The reason is twofold: First, Wood Camera is designed to directly complement Instagram, and second, Instagram is photo-centric and largely public, with features such as the Popular Page that allow for broad organic exposure. Between Bright Mango co-founders John Barnett (@johnbarnett) and Zach Garrett (@zachgarrett), we had more than 80,000 followers (according to Statigram, John and Zach’s uploads have received over 2.8 million likes on Instagram), and by leveraging our family and friends we were able to increase our reach to over 275,000 followers by the time we launched the Wood Camera 2.0 update.
Our Instagram reach of 275,000 wasn’t a bad place to start, but we knew to reach the top of the charts we’d need something more. We began looking for advertising options that would make our limited budget go as far as possible, and ultimately we ended up focusing on a handful of innovative solutions. One example is a young creative agency called The Mobile Media Lab that provides Instagram-centric marketing services.
The Mobile Media Lab was created by a group of top NYC-based Instagramers (@newyorkcity, @takinyerphoto, and @bridif) who cumulatively have almost a million Instagram followers. We communicated with their team and decided that they would be a good fit for us and our marketing plan for Wood Camera. The plan was to do a number of posts over several days on Instagram. All we asked was that they use the #WoodCamera hashtag and point to the @WoodCamera Instagram account in each image caption. Other than that, we trusted each photographer’s creativity to shape the style, feel, and timing of their posts — as well as their viral impact.
The series of images that resulted were incredibly beautiful and beyond what we could have expected, and the user response was awesome. We definitely felt the effect of the promoted Instagram posts. The images garnered more than 45,000 likes and over a thousand comments in just a few days.
These are just a few examples of how developers on a limited budget can leverage the power of social media to promote their offerings. Our work with The Mobile Media Lab is just one of several advertising solutions we employed to reach the top spot in the App Store, but it’s a great example of what’s possible with social media today. Of course, advertising is only part of the picture — If you don’t have a quality product, the buzz will quickly fade and your app will get lost in the shuffle. We also feel that it’s critical not to underestimate the importance of having an informative Press Kit and a decent website to link back to. The concept of using social media for promotion has been with us for a while now, but it is seldom used as effectively as it should be. We hope that the insights shared in this post have illustrated how quality social content can have a tangible impact on an app’s performance.
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Meet the Bright Mango co-founders:
John Barnett is a professional travel photographer and cinematographer and a contributor to Getty Images. Equally at home leading a photo walk in Venice, Italy or exploring Base Camp at Mount Everest, John has been fascinated by mobile photography since the launch of the original iPhone. Previously the Media Director for Twitpic. You can find John on Instagram at @johnbarnett.
Zach Garrett is a serial entrepreneur with almost a decade of experience in emerging technology. An avid travel photographer, he has visited exotic locations from Mount Everest to the Antarctic Peninsula in his quest for the perfect shot. Zach is a committed iPhoneographer and Instagrammer, where you can find him at @zachgarrett.