3rd Party Social Proof – $100M Brand Pulling “Little Tricks”

I found a fun little thing that the Native deodorants are using to do increase their conversions. If you don’t know what Native is, it’s an organic deodorant D2C brand that recently was acquired by P&G for $100 million dollars in cash.

The gimmick here is that they are trying to build 3rd party social proof by using a page that is named after a person who apparently is a blogger but has no following. The 3rd party page is being used to advertise their brand with a 3rd person copy which gives it a review/testimonial feel.

Social proofs are big part of social media advertising as they can increase you conversion rate by a lot. Ads that have 1M+ views and 10K+ engagement have significantly lower cost per acquisition due to the social proof alone.

After visiting the page I found out the page has no following

And the ad library is burning fuel week after week

Gaming The System & Little Tricks

I finished yesterday’s blog by asking if gaming the system is a good idea to make money or not. I have gamed the system all my life. When I ventured into internet marketing, the first platform I drove traffic from was Digg.com

It was a social news site kind of like reddit that doesn’t exist in its original form anymore. It was an insane source of traffic and Zeeshan mentored me well on how to really make the best out of it. We could get most stories to the front-page on a daily basis. We drove 10s of thousands of unique visits. Not just that, our content reached the eyes of editors of the largest publications in the world which would often result in backlinks and further traffic as well as SEO juice from them. I built my blog SmashingLists almost entirely out of Digg and sold it for a pretty hefty amount back then.

I loved it. It wasn’t just traffic, it was really high quality traffic. After the demise of digg and trying a few other things like StumbleUpon etc, I ventured into viral Facebook marketing. I did that briefly for about 3 months. It certainly was the darkest shade of grey. I don’t encourage anyone to choose this shade in their lives. It’s not worth it.

After that with my co-founders Saad and Zeeshan, we leveraged the organic traffic from Facebook by building and acquiring Facebook pages. Very white hat and we did it for the longest time. We built many websites and made a ton of money.

In summary, gamification of the system has been the heart of our internet marketing journey. I’ll go on to the point to state that if big tech companies claim that they haven’t done it to “hack growth” they lie. Wasn’t Facebook built by scrapping off the student list of all Harvard students? Aren’t AliExpress affiliate ads served on Torrent website popups? I have seen all these mainstream apps like ride-hailing, food-delivery, pretty much everything, capitalizing the grey areas.

Growth hackers study the systems, the AI, find the shortcomings, and capitalize on them. That’s what they are designed to do.

But some people suggest gamification is a small guy game. A few days ago, PG published this tweet

I agree with him.

I have seen or known 100s of people who have made millions and tens of millions all by capitalizing the “little tricks”. It’s totally possible. It works. There are probably a million case studies of millionaires who made it through beating the system.

Although, really big money, the unicorn status, the billions, are not made with little tricks and gamification. They are made by solving a problem so big that it helps millions and tens of millions people use the service or the product. I’m still willing to bet though, that the growth of these companies are still carried out using the “little tricks”.

Since people from emerging and under-developed world are often not so well off, to them $100 seems like a big deal and they would happily settle for little tricks and gamification as long as it provides them the opportunity to make that $100 and a road that would eventually lead them to become somewhat wealthy.

To finish this off, if you game the system, you’ll make it. If you build a product or service that helps millions of people, you’ll make that every hour what you’ll make with gaming the system in your lifetime. But even while you build a product or service that helps the people, don’t forget to game the system along the way.

Getting A Massive Payout For the Simple Skills

The problem with the traditional mentality is that we feel that in order to make a big buck, we need to know rocket science. Many people believe that their compensation is directly proportional to how much more qualified they are about a certain skill.

This could be true in certain cases especially in competitive or saturated lines of work and most specifically for those seeking fixed compensation in the form of salaries. However, it doesn’t always have to be the case.

The money is in the application of skills and not in the skills itself. If you know javascript and can write 20 lines of codes in JS for your employer or your client, of course your compensation will be minimal. But if you use 20 lines of JS in a specific use-case yourself, your compensation could be 10s of thousands of dollars. Let me give you a few examples below.

If you’re a graphic designer and your main gig is to create thumbnails for YouTube or Facebook videos, may be you can charge $10-$30 for something like this. But if you have the ability to create thumbnails that will have a very high click-through rate on YouTube, then your skill is worth a lot more. You could use your small skill for a massive payout. May be you could even hire or partner with someone who makes videos, while you only focus on those high click-through rate thumbnails and eventually get rewarded long-term by YouTube algorithm.

I have also used small skills for massive payouts by applying them in areas where the reward could be very high. And here’s an example of what I did in 2011.

This was a black hat technique. Most people do not talk about black hat techniques publicly but since I was very young, on an exploration, learning the true power of internet, and also learning my true self, I do not mind talking about it today. It helped me learn a lot and unlocked the true potential of my mind. I discourage black hat as a long-term business model but sharing this is important because I want everyone to know what you can do with very little knowledge if you look in the right places.

I was still in university pursuing a bachelors degree in Computer Science. I had learnt some programming there. Nothing extraordinary, nothing that I could use to score a high paying job. Just good enough on a student scale. I had learnt some HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL etc but not a lot. A couple of assignments, one or two projects. But I found an area where these skills could be applied.

After seeking help from someone who explained me of this technique, I set up a landing page. A simple page with nothing but a video embed and some ads. I used some CSS to place facebook Like button behind the video embed’s play button. Every time a user would play the video, he would also share it on his Facebook without knowing. This way couple of his Facebook friends would also end up on the landing page and would play the video themselves creating a viral loop. In couple of hours, I had over 20,000 users online on the landing page and of course I made a lot of money.

The only skill I used was some CSS which I barely knew enough to be able to sell something for $5 on Fiverr.