Many startups believe celebrities are the key to their growth hacking. However, the truth is, the celebrity is the original growth hacker. My argument is that startups could learn more from studying how celebrities growth hack vs. actually utilizing the celebrity. Celebrities been using various “growth hacking” methods to fast track their way to the top since the beginning of time…
The original court jester danced their way to freedom from the serf life, and thanks to their new found celebrity were able to eventually have a plot of land to call their own. Smart celebrities have been using “growth hacking” methods to their own benefit for thousands of years whether, or not they even know it.
What do (new/upcoming) celebrities and startups have in common?
They both have no marketing budgets, and a poor understanding of marketing. This forces them to be creative, willing to try new things, and think outside the box hence resorting to “growth hacking” methodology.
Celebrities have always harnessed mediums as means of opportunity to latch onto. Whether it was using radio, television, internet, social networking, and now mobile. The smart celebrity is always looking for the next “big” thing to be a part of to “growth hack” their own celebrity to the next level.
Still not getting what I’m saying? Here’s another example…
The SNL Cast — Spoofing/parody is one of the easiest way to ride off the success of someone else and quickly make your way to the top. Recent examples: Will Ferrell as President Bush, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, etc. There’s no doubt that a quality impersonation can land you international spotlight in no time, just ask Weird Al Yankovic.
Almost everything a celebrity does involves their continual growth hacking:Award show mishaps, wardrobe malfunctions, purposefully terrible commercials, awkward guest appearances, ludicrous interviews, crazy cross promotions, controversial charity events, well-timed adult videos, etc. A celebrity will almost always try something even mildly popular, if it has a chance of helping their career growth. They have little to lose, and everything to gain by continually giving unconventional mediums a chance.
This is exactly why most startups want a celebrity to tweet about their new startup. Though, this is actually a bad strategy because it’s going against the prime directive of marketing. Good marketing doesn’t let a customer know they’re being marketed to. Good marketing tells a story. Besides that, there’s no benefit to the celebrity beyond your small budget. Keep in mind, if your small startup is not helping them to continue their “growth hacking”, they will likely lose interest and therefore, maybe only tweet a handful more times for you if you’re lucky.
WIIFM — What’s in it for me? Once you solve that question for a celebrity, and if it involves growing their fame, then you just might be able to use the original growth hacker to help your needs.
Want to know a secret? Twitter literally tricked celebrities into growth hacking Twitter into popularity! That’s right, Twitter used celebrities to become popular and relevant.
Twitter was able to get several celebrities on board thanks to the success of MySpace. Celebrities knew tools such as Twitter were the key to continually engaging and growing their followers without restraint. Meaning, they didn’t have to depend on others (IE: UNIVERSAL) for distribution anymore, they could reach their fans directly every day. That’s all it took, several celebrities for the social network to take off like wildfire and attract many other celebrities seeking the same ability.
So, next time you’re thinking about your startups growth hacking activities, I’d like for you to think from the perspective of a celebrity. How would they growth hack your product to success? What would they latch onto to help catapult themselves into prominence, fame, and fortune?
Can you think of any other example of celebrities as the original growth hacker? Share with me in the response section, I’d love to hear what crazy examples you can think of!