Kevin Rose: How to Promote Your Web App

In this 11-minute interview we ask Kevin Rose, founder of digg and WeFollow five questions about web entrepreneurship. In case you don’t have time to watch the interview, we’ve summarized Kevin’s answers below.

Feel free to share your answers to these questions in the comments below. We’d love to hear your perspective.

What advice can you give new web entrepreneurs?

  1. A great way to gain traction and get coverage for a new web app is approach a well known person and offer them something valuable in return for trying out your service.Example: Tumblr asked Gary Vaynerchuk if he would use their service if they gave him a spot on their home page.
  2. Have your 30-second pitch perfected so when you get a chance to meet an influential blogger or member of the press, you can communicate the purpose of your app succinctly.
  3. Attend conferences and throw little parties around the conference. Do it on the cheap and just get people mentioning your app like: “Hey, I’m heading to the YourAmazingApp party. Are you going?” This is much easier because of Twitter as news of small ‘lighting-parties’ can spread quickly.

You’ve managed to raise your profile in the industry. How did you do this?

At digg we didn’t focus on getting press coverage. We just focussed on making an amazing product and believing people would talk about it if it was truly great.

When we started getting press enquiries, we focused on telling a bigger ‘human-interest’ story to the publications, which were much more likely to get front-page coverage, instead of a simple mention in a small column.

The lesson is this: figure out what makes your app interesting as a news story.

Should start-ups create a videocast like you’ve done with diggnation?

Absolutely. Every company needs a spokesperson who is willing to be the public face of the company and participate in the community.

As the diggnation podcast started to grow, digg fans began to make it their goal to get a story mentioned in the podcast. This increased the prestige of the site and also fan loyalty.

How do you balance marketing with working on the product?

That’s an interesting question. Earlier today I was running off to another interview and Daniel Burka (the lead designer at digg) showed me a couple designs as I was walking out of the door. I didn’t have time to properly sit down to discuss them and Daniel said “Kevin, can we please just get you in the office a bit more to discuss these kind of things?”

It’s a tough problem and I still battle with it at digg. I’m not sure I’ve gotten the balance 100% right yet.

What do you want to be remembered for when you die?

I want to be remembered for being a part of the web revolution that really changed the way that humans consume media and news.

I’m also hoping to launch my own tea range and be known as a connoisseur :)

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Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/thomashawk

The video interview

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Comments

9 comments on “Kevin Rose: How to Promote Your Web App

  1. You also left out the pivotal "be famous before launching a social site" – this is very similar to the StackOverflow story, it didn't become popular due to their social karma engineering – it was because it was ran by Joel and Jeff who have a multi-million highly niche [developers] audience on their blogs.

    Kevin Rose introducing Digg.com on screen savers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1_YoG7lqI4

    You'd have to try quite hard to make a community site *fail* if you can remove the initial marketing buzz.

  2. You also left out the pivotal "be famous before launching a social site" – this is very similar to the StackOverflow story, it didn't become popular due to their social karma engineering – it was because it was ran by Joel and Jeff who have a multi-million highly niche [developers] audience on their blogs.

    Kevin Rose introducing Digg.com on screen savers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1_YoG7lqI4

    You'd have to try quite hard to make a community site *fail* if you can remove the initial marketing buzz.

  3. The first question consists of very solid "guerrilla" tactics to get yourself heard. I think its great advice. I mean, how else are you going to impress the big investors that your app is worthy. Thanks -

  4. Getting people to talk about your product is surefire way to get lots of hits. Even if you won't attract everyone at once, over time more and more people will start thinking "what is this nam-of-the-app I'm hearing about all the time? Guess I might check it out"

  5. It’s great to get some great advice from a Pro who’s been there and doing it.
    Very inspiring and I will definately take away alot of the advice given here.