Growing Epicenter Bitcoin

November 12, 2014

Until the end of January, I’m focusing on growing Epicenter Bitcoin. If you want to read some background on what Epicenter Bitcoin is and where are at the moment, I just finished writing a long post on exactly that.

The basic format of the project will be this: In this post, I will give a general overview of the factors that affect growth. I’ll also define a list of areas that we can focus on during the coming months. Then, each week I’ll choose one specific area to dive in, discuss how it plays in our specific context and take some action on it. The list below will be the basis for this, but it’s possible that I won’t exactly stick to it. I’ll also be publishing one blog post for each area and I’ll finish with publishing a post analyzing the overall project on January 28.

Of course, I will only be able to dabble in each area and get a better perspective on it. But my hope is that at the end, we should have a very clear idea of which areas are the most promising and merit more attention.

Principles First

Before hurrying into action, let’s take a step back and look at some of the fundamentals that affect growth in the long term. This also helps to determine on what’s right category of activities to focus on. Doing something at the wrong time can be a big waste of time.

1. Reducing Churn

How many listeners stick around and keep listening instead of dropping off?

The most important factor in the long run is probably the churn rate. Churn is generally defined as the rate of individuals moving out of a specific group. So in a subscription-based model, it would be the percentage of people who unsubscribe or don’t renew their subscription. In the case of our podcast, the churn rate would refer to the rate at which listeners stop listening. Let’s say we have 1,000 listeners at the beginning of the month and 200 of them stop listening during the month, the monthly churn rate would be 20%.

The reason why this is important it that if the churn rate is high, nothing else will have a lasting impact. It’s a bit like filling a leaky bucket with water. Even though churn rate is obviously very relevant for us, there seems to be no way of measuring or even approximating churn rates with podcast analytics, which are notoriously terrible. So, I have no idea what our churn rate is. But if we’re clever, there may be some ways of getting a rough idea. And in any case, what is clear is that having a low churn is essential so even thinking of how to reduce without having the luxury of feedback in the form of data should be valuable.

2. Increasing Virality

How many listeners share the content and bring in new listeners?

A second factor that can be a powerful driver of growth, especially viral growth, is the rate at which users recruit new users by sharing the content, inviting friends, etc. This is something that can work extremely well for products for which social interaction is an integral part. Facebook is not so cool if none of your friends use it, so Facebook users have a very strong incentive to bring in their friends as well.

There are two big advantages to this: First, it can lead to exponential growth. If each new users, gets two more users to join, you get very big, very fast. Second, you generally don’t pay for this kind of growth (although sometimes users are paid for referring new users).

Podcasts aren’t generally consumed in a social way and listeners don’t have direct incentives to bring in new listeners. This makes achieving this kind of viral growth difficult. At the very least, one has to be creative and think outside the box. But being able to sustainably increase the rate at which listeners share the content and bring in new people can pay off big in the long run.

3. Increasing Reach

How many new people get exposed to our content and show?

The most obvious thing to focus on is to increase the number of people who get exposed to the content. This could be in any number of ways: They might see a tweet about the show, our guests might mention it to their followers, it could be posted on reddit. It could be people seeing it on our Facebook page or reading a blog post about Epicenter Bitcoin. It could be us writing guests post elsewhere. It could even be through paid advertising. There is an endless number of things one can do, so the challenge is to find the few things that are easy to do, but have big effects. While it might be possible to find promising channels and strategies through reading and thinking about it, there is no way around simply testing each channel and measuring the results to find those that work.

It’s also important to take into account to what extent new listeners stick around. Some channels might get a small number of new people, but many of them might become loyal listeners. With other tactics, you might get huge numbers to the site with few sticking around.

Project Structure

Here are some of the areas I am considering spending time on. As time goes on and I write the posts, I will update this list with the blog post titles and link to them. So over time, this should become a solid table of content for the project.

1. What has contributed the most to our growth?

2. What ways do we have to measure churn, virality, reach and conversion?

3. Reddit

4. Twitter

5. Facebook

6. Google Plus

7. Youtube

8. iTunes

9. Guest posting

10. Other audio platforms

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