App Developers – Take Control and Make Your App Go VIRAL! A Developers Perspective on Creating Unique and High Quality Apps

Okay as a developer myself, I’ve had some success with apps but it has been years now. My first fairly successful app that came only 2 spots from the top 100 was Pyro Pro Fireworks. It is no longer on the app store as I decided to close that account and start fresh as Artista Digital. I guess you could say that was a different life. There was no secret to that one. It just happened to be a simple and fun app that got a lot of attention early on. And the crazy part about it was that it took only 24 hours to make. I had other apps that I worked on for months and even years which didn’t even come close to the success of Pyro Pro Fireworks. Oh well that is the chance you take. So let’s take a closer look at what makes an app go viral. We’ll explore my newest app called Lost Frequency for iOS. It’s a choose your own adventure game where you make life impacting decisions with the main character to help him escape a foreign world where he has crashed.

What Makes It Go Viral???

Word of mouth is much more effective than direct advertising. Ask yourself this question: Would you be more inclined to download an app after your friend recommended it or after you saw it in an ad? Having something go viral through word of mouth lowers the cost of user acquisition and gets you downloads faster. That’s what you need if you’re going to crack that top 100 or even better the top 10! Using social media can help but what you really want is your users to use social media to spread the word.

Create Something People Want

This one seems obvious because of course creating something people want is what will drive its virality. There are a lot of very high quality apps on the app store. That being said, a little bit of luck plays a part. For my new app Lost Frequency, it’s still too early to tell how it will do but I believe I have achieved the “unique” and “high quality” factor. The real question is how can one get a little bit of luck? Well I believe that is the part you simply can’t control. But hey as an indie developer give me some support and check it out here:

Lost Frequency iOS App Store Link

Of course I have to give my own app a shameless plug. But I do believe strongly in supporting other indie developers! I buy indie apps all the time because frankly, I’m sick of seeing the “big guys” get all the fame and fortune.

Make sure to engage your users. An engaged user is far more likely to share your app with friends and on social media. Work on that emotional connection with your users. Emotion is far more likely to drive shares on social media and new downloads of your app. Maybe you can even be a little controversial in your app? Can you think of times when controversy made something go viral? Of course! It happens all the time! Now don’t do anything that will get you kicked off the app store of course but be strategic in your design.

Make It Unique

The quickest way to go viral and increase downloads is having something unique. Well in today’s overcrowded app store that seems nearly impossible right? This is where a little out of the box thinking will come in handy. My new app Lost Frequency is similar to a game called Lifeline in that it is a choose your own adventure, however, I was able to incorporate a completely new element that sets it far apart. Instead of text from the main character, we use actual voice acting so that it is like you are talking to a real person as you embark on this adventure. I guess now would be a good time to embed a preview video so you know what I’m talking about.

Unique right? Similar to other choose your own adventure games, yet it’s different because of the way we incorporate that one unique element of using voice acting. This is just a sample of some out of the box thinking you should use for your own app. Your app does not need to be completely different, just try to have some unique elements that set it apart.
Make it Effortless to Share Your App
Definitely use social media buttons in your app. I’ve made the mistake too often of not utilizing these valuable resources. What easier way to get people to share your app than having a facebook share or tweet button built in? All it takes is one user who loves your app to share it. And if you’re lucky another user will share, and another, and another, and so on. Hence creating what they call a “viral loop”.
Let Me Sum Up With Some Key Ingredients to Help it Go Viral

  1. Create Something Valuable – There are multiple apps of all kinds in the app store, some with millions of downloads, others forgotten with only a few hundred or thousand downloads. Your app can go viral only if the users find it valuable and worth sharing. Create an app that is not like all those run of the mill apps already lying there, create something worth sharing.
  2. Presentation – Design a great logo and name your app appropriately. An app with a catchy name and great logo is sure to grab attention.
  3. ASO – App store optimization is the process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results.
  4. Easy Share – Users must share your app on different social media and messenger services. Make it easy to share with a pre-drafted message and the app link.
  5. Videos – Videos are a great way to introduce your product. Having a short Youtube video that shows off your app and its features is a must.
  6. Promotions – Promote your app with gifts, discount codes or freebies. Make this promotion socially shareable and offer incentives. This will help generate some buzz with your app.
  7. Contests – Run a contest on social media while launching the app or any other major event. Request users to use your hashtag and share your posts to win.
  8. Analytics – Segment users and their activities while engaging with the app. Data backed insights are helpful in mobile app marketing, engagement, and conversion.

So How Many Downloads Do I Have?

Well for Lost Frequency it is too early to know as the app was literally just released. But for Pyro Pro Fireworks, while I don’t have the hard data anymore, I believe over the life of the app I had well over 150K downloads. For 7-8 years ago that was pretty good. But to crack the top 100 today, you’ll need far more than that!