The Twitter Bootstrap Effect in Startup Marketing

It’s easier than ever to create your own web- or mobile-app. Following updates on websites like Betalist and Product Hunt you see new apps literally popping up every hour. At the same time there is a tremendous wealth of resources available on making your startup or side-project a success. From lively discussions on Y-Combinator’s Hacker News, to blogs by successful SaaS founders and VC’s, to whole communities and Wiki’s on “growth hacking” best practices.

I really like this movement and the openness in sharing things that work. However this also causes the ‘Twitter Bootstrap Effect’¹ in startup marketing. After a while, everything starts to look the same, because people are doing the same. Best practices become common practices. And people lose the reason why they are doing something and just do it because it is on a check-list, and they see other apps doing it.

One of these nowadays common practices is sending emails from the ‘founder’ with a request for feedback. A great tool to get feedback and improve if this would genuine and personal. But in the last months this have become ‘yet another activation email’ that is fully automated. It gives me the feeling you are doing it because others are doing it and you feel you have to do it as well. Especially if I respond with feedback and instead of getting into a personal conversation (something you want, right?) I don’t receive a response at all, but another automated email from the ‘founder’ 3 days later. Please note: this is not one case, this happened five times in the last two weeks.

With the wealth of best practices and tips in making your app a success; don’t loose focus. Don’t just do what the “25 ways to make your app a success” article tells you to, or copy your competitors. Go back to the core: why are you doing it? Ask why 5 times (yes, another best practice, sorry :)). Be unique, be genuine.

¹ = the trend that every web-app started to look the same, because they used the same framework.

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Jelmer de Jong

Jelmer de Jong

Product and marketing leader.