#growth #hacking

3. January 2019
Time9 min read

You’re probably here because you’re interested in growth hacking. Growth hacking is interesting to you because the term ‘hacking’ infers some kind of clever or perceptibly intelligent approach towards “growth” which in the paradigm of late-capitalism is dogmatically sustainable and desirable.

Let us define growth hacking. In overly simplistic terms, it can be described as maximizing the rate of user acquisition and overall efficiency of performance for advertisement technology. For instance, subsets of growth hacking theory can include but not strictly involve fields such as influence marketing and viral content. In the early days, techniques such as cohort analysis and graph degeneracy helped formalize these vague paradigms of behavior into metrics and measures that we can observe and experiment upon.

What began as increasing downloads, email addresses or usage — is now a rich and diverse ecosystem of technologies and professional industries.

Growth hackers justify their occupation and existence with tools at their disposal such as:

* A/B testing

* Email deliverability

* Landing page optimization

* Open Graph (http://ogp.me/)

In any of these instances, there is typically a discussion and analysis of their discipline and practice of these technologies. What can be measured is measured. What can be quantified is quantified. In general, for most scenarios — the people justifying their cost and expenditure for employing growth hackers like to see their numbers’ colors be green and increase.Red or black colors for numbers and decreasing is generally frowned upon and considered to be bad.

Ancillary to growth hacking is the concept of product refinement. The reason designers exist or titles such as UI/UX can even justify themselves is that efforts towards improving or beautifying the structure of a given app is so to retain or attract users. People like to use things that at least appear to be good because for the most part all they can see is what is visible and this level of superficial understanding of technology is fairly well understood.

Growth hackers like to use a lot of fancy SAT words. I have no idea what any of them actually mean. For instance:

* Competitive differentiation / Competitive dimensional analysis

* Vertical Audiences

* Design Intention

* Dark Pattern / Anti Pattern

It is a fairly well understood phenomena that pseudointellectuals and aspirational scientists can conceal themselves in deeper and deeper layers of stupidity and ignorance through the magic of buzzwords. It requires more effort, focus and resources to discover and analyze what is patently false or misleading than it takes to construct and distribute misinformation. Essentially you can get away with malicious and abusive practices so long as you continue to migrate to new audiences who are unaware of your true intentions and it moves in tandem with an increase in popular interest of any given buzzword or whatever seems shiny and new for investors to feel like they’re making an well-researched and cogent investment towards a vague but progressive future.

Let’s breathe.

Now, what does successful growth hacking look like. If I’m cool and popular, it means I have a lot of friends and people like me. If my brand, company or technology is cool and popular, it usually means I have lots of usage, good ratings and people want to give me money. So if we’re thinking like a growth hacker, we think in terms of modeling these logistics like this:

I buy ads. People see ads. People become aware of what I’m selling. They buy it. I use the profit to buy more ads.

I want to sell something that will make me money. I look up a common problem on the Internet and figure out how to fix it. I refine this into a product or service that users depend upon to fix this problem.

I’m really cool on the Internet. People love to look at my content and share what I create. It makes them look cool. I go viral. I make memes. I refine my persona into an easy and digestible personality that makes me more attractive and consumable to a wider audience. If I listen to cool music, people respect and admire my taste. If I wear cool clothes, people think I’m successful and wealthy. If If I interact with someone who is also popular, we both become more popular. I should do everything in my power to become more cool, hot and successful. If I want to be happy, then a pursuit of being rich and famous is a worthy candidate in approaching this problem.

Broadly speaking, I think most people’s conceptualization of themselves and their place in reality and society writ large is through the presence of branding and marketing through advertisement. What is there to be wanted that cannot be advertised? Who is there to be that is not made famous?

The purpose of life for most of us is to accrue money, which is an inherent abstraction of their labor. So we work jobs and invest time and effort in careers to maximize our potential for earnings. The reason I am delving into the psychology of human interest in capital is because it is the ultimate and last argument in which all marketing and advertisement should be centered upon.

Money allows to experience things and buy stuff that has a chance of increasing your overall happiness. If you deprive people of their sense of happiness and resources and then position yourself as an arbiter of change for their circumstances – you can essentially manipulate people into giving you money for very vague and philosophically unrigorous reasons. For instance, you can use unreasonable and improbable standards to emphasize a sense of mediocrity in being average or normal towards a more specific mood of insecurity and insufficiency. If I make you feel bad, I can predict that your next motivation will to be feel good. If I make you feel good, I can predict that your next motivation will be to continue to feel good. In any case, I can use this logic to my advantage to get you to give me what I want.

Let’s talk about your brand.

Your brand is must be severely limited to only what drives your success. Everything else is just distraction or illusion. Who you are as a person absolutely does not matter nor does your hopes, dreams or aspirations of what you imagine yourself to be. Your brand is just what works for you and what works for you can be completely divorced from who you actually are.

Growth hackers toss a lot of curve graphing to measure this. Basically it’s a really simple calculus where you want your overall numbers to increase. Graphs generally should go in one direction which is up and towards the right. If they go up more and more at an increasing rate, that is generally considered to be good. Most would agree upon this graph as being an inherently good thing that is safe and predictably reliable for the continued measure of success that we can all enjoy.

But where does this graph come from? Usually its plotted by a punch of data points lying in a spreadsheet. Most of the Internet is predicated upon the logic and interpretation of various spreadsheets. Accounting is monitoring spreadsheets. Finance is predicting spreadsheet behavior. Data science is visualizing spreadsheets. Machine learning is behavior of spreadsheets. If you want to get fancy you can call spreadsheets what they’re mathematically defined upon which is linear algebra and matrices or tensors or whatever but everyone will call you a nerd and nobody will give you money. That is unless you can somehow make it seem vague, mysterious, elaborate and complex your operation of spreadsheets so people will be interested in your specific or specialized skillset.

So let’s look at how this all works out. Growth hackers rely upon predictable and reliable behavior cycles. These behaviors are usually discretized into set actions or behaviors that have corresponding probabilities or percentages that we want to usually want to increase at each step. So to illustrate this point, growth hackers will create fancy graphs with arrows that lead to each other in a loop which creates the illusion that this is a stable, symmetrical structure. And then I have a recipe for what I want to feed into my spreadsheet which can then compute my plotting curve so I can show that my numbers are increasing and receive money because that’s good.

Let’s talk about investors.

Exactly what are investors interested in? For the most part, people invest in things because they ultimately receive something better than what they started in. Everyone invests their time and resources towards positions and opportunities that they hope will yield good opportunities. For example, a lot of people go to school because they think learning things is important and helpful. Intelligence is widely admired because making smarter decisions or being aware of more information will allow an individual to avoid the risk that is usually associated with being unaware of ignorant of danger to them. As capitalism progresses, this sense of danger articulates itself in more abstract signaling behavior. So we send kids to school to learn about stuff, hope that what they learn is helpful, and that they will ultimately contribute to their own success. Sometimes this involves the overall welfare of society but mostly people want to learn about whatever they think will specifically assist them in pursuing more money. We can pretend that there are incentives such as ethics, virtues and morality but mostly people predicate themselves upon the fuzzy logic of what they perceive to be aligned in their interest towards success. Most of the time the definition of success itself is also not even well considered so it makes them anxious and eager to pursue it more because it’s intangible and out-of-reach.

So by this line of thinking, all of us are investors. We all invest. So if you want to understand investors, understand how everyone thinks and why. This is not inherently obvious because people misconstrue their own motivations all the time and are easily swayed by fancy argumentation. More practically, most people are mathematically and numerically illiterate and easily impressed by fancy symbols and diagrams that illustrate what they hope is a good idea because it involves something they want to understand but can’t. So it’s in your interest to target audiences who are not good at math or science or participate and contribute to a culture that doesn’t emphasize literacy in these fields.

Make everyone more confused and the illusion of success works more efficiently. Tell them things that are easily and readily agreeable because it aligns with their own self-interest. Give them a sense of purpose and meaning in contributing to your own success because it will somehow help them. Somewhere in this is a really vague concept of altruism, sharing and cooperation and how that makes the glue of civilization and society but it’s really more like we don’t do bad things to each other because then people learn to do bad things to us. So when you’re approaching investors, or when they take interest in your project, you should endeavor towards understanding what is fundamentally in their immediate and long-term interests.

It’s easy to make money when you have money. You can invest in resources that will output more money than was required by their input. It’s nice when this function scales because that means when you put in more money and resources you get more money and more resources. This is essentially what defines all good businesses but for some reason is completely forgotten in some industries such as Silicon Valley where it is weirdly popular and attractive to create businesses that fail in this regard completely.

The reason I’m stating something this seemingly obvious is because a lot of investors, workers and managers completely lose track of what is a useful distribution of their time, effort, and resources because they weren’t told how to. The nature of professionalism, career and industry is basically the degree in which they can reliably produce a sense of trust and consistency in their reason to exist. And you can basically abstract this behavior to apply to all of humanity because really there is no reason for anything to not receive a merciless and brutal campaign of violence against its existence.

So now you know all you need to know about growth marketing! Now you can attract investors and be successful!