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7 Growth Hacking Tactics NOT to do (& Alternatives)

By Tim Brown
Updated July 18, 2015
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7 Growth Hacking Tactics - Not to do
Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

7 Growth Hacking Tactics - Not to do

You don’t have to make the mistakes I have. I have tried some variation on every one of these things, because I’m the kind of kid who peed on the electric fence. But you can be the smart kid, behind the kid peeing on the fence and making better decisions. Don’t make these silly social media faux pas, you silly goose.

1. Connect all your social media accounts so they post to each other.

This gets really old. I have no problem with some cross over, but not every piece of content is appropriate for every medium. I honestly don’t mind seeing your cat on your instagram, but if I see that shit on Twitter, I’m second-guessing the validity of me paying attention to your account.

Alternative: Consider really paying attention to the social norms on each respective platform – I personally focus mostly on Twitter and Instagram, and secondarily on LinkedIn, Facebook and Dribbble. After you’ve really got the rhythm for what people care about and share on these different networks, serve that appetite. Don’t just use the platform for promotion, use it to listen and soak up what people are saying about the topic.

2. Have an autoresponder on your twitter account for people who follow you.

I’ve done this, and guess what? People called me on it. They said, “You seem like a worthwhile account, but this message makes it seem like you’re a bit of a noob.” I appreciated the feedback and it makes sense. An automated message is almost demeaning to someone receiving it. “Oh sweet… I got a message!” … “Ohhh.”

Alternative: Just favorite and retweet new followers you actually care about. This takes a little more discretion and is a nudge in the direction of, “Hey, let’s be friends.” Because if I rub your back, than you might want to rub mine. Funny thing about my back is..

3. Post blog comments to direct people to your similar content.

Wow, I really felt like a tool after I had someone do this for me. I had them sign into my account and post some blog comments for my Crash Course to Handlettering. I didn’t pay them to have discretion or a moral compass and they posted on like 5 posts from one author, and he was pretty annoyed. He called me out and who knows if it hurt my reputation as a legit dude in that particular arena for anyone who saw it. Backlinks are nice and everything, but self-promotion on someone else’s coat-tails is bound to catch the frustration of the person whose coat-tails are being ridden.

Alternative: Read blog comments that you can be of actual use on, and share your experience and expertise on them. The influence of your help and presence here will be a better opportunity to increase influence, and in the end that’s more important than backlinks.

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4. Go all self-promotion on Reddit.

Yeah I actually don’t really like Reddit for the most part. If you decide to use this as a place to spread the news about new blog posts etc., understand they will come at you like a spider monkey, and they don’t hold back.

Alternative: Don’t waste your time on Reddit, find more niche community message boards that have less of a precedent for dudes in basements, and filterless / non-constructive criticism. For me in the end, I decided to go this route cause it was killin’ my vibe. Instead I joined ‘The Community‘, an encouraging group for creatives. There will always be haters, I just try to stay out of the snake pit.

5. Thank everyone for Retweets.. and favoriting their tweets.

This ends up deluging the Twitter feed of people who favorite and retweet your content, and honestly what value does it provide? It reminds me of the overly kind aunt who didn’t know when to stop pinching your cheeks. We get it… YOU’RE NICE. Especially don’t automate this. Cause if you have an auto-thanker on for favorites, I’m going infinite loop on that thing.
@timbdesignmpls Thank you for your favorite!” I’m favoriting that thing right away, and I’ll keep it going for hours.

Alternative: Thank influencers for tweeting and retweeting your articles. This brings them back up in people’s timelines. This is best used for people who really have made a serious impact, and spread the good word. Also.. I always search my domain name in the Twitter search bar and retweet any people who have tweeted my articles but didn’t tag me. A lovely way to still promote content without it always being a tweet directly from me.

6. Spend a bunch of money on backlinks.

All that I can say is that I have done this, and see very little correlation to positive results. At worst, you could get a penalty for this, at best you just spent money on not much. More and more it’s becoming clear, it’s about relevant links from reputable sources who are also directed at the same audience and have similar content to your site. Spend the time on great content, not on buying backlinks.

Alternative: Still have a hankering for backlinks? Take your top 3 resource posts that are high-value and reach out to people who are listing this type of article. Example: Top hand-lettering guides – Find all the top posts of this nature and send the one’s run by a single person or small team a quick personal message, telling them you put together an awesome resource and asking if they’d include you on it. I credit doing this for one hour once for a very steady flow of traffic. (15-20 from that source each day, and seemingly more clout on google.)

7. Use Exclamation points for everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I love enthusiasm. But the exclamation point is a crutch, and some people (including myself, formerly,) overuse it to the point it means nothing.

Alternative: Every time you want to use an exclamation point, figure out how to make people feel the exclamation with different words instead of punctuation. Use more compelling verbiage like electric, sensational, provacative, sex, hacks, actionable, kick-ass, ‘things people hate’, brilliant and mastermind. After you get done dropping in my ridiculous, massive action words, and sprinkling in your own (everything short of donkey-punch,) have a little fun with alliteration – ‘Hashtag Habit Hacks,’ or ‘Wonderful washed-up websites with Weebly.’ But most of all, make the value in the article extremely clear within the title. Like for this one, I indicated I’m going to give you 7 growth hacks not to use, and that I’ll give you alternative for each one. Then of course, deliver on giving the value as much as you possibly can.


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Tim Brown
Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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