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How an iPhone App Developer Tweeted His Way to Success

-13 With some 58,000 iPhone applications in the iTunes Store, developers face an uphill battle when it comes to building a user base for their applications. But thanks to a simple marketing campaign on Twitter, tap tap tap, a startup with less than 20 employees, has seen its app, Convert, become one of the top 30 most popular paid apps in less than a week.

To celebrate the launch of the 99-cent app, a simple unit and currency converter tool, tap tap tap is offering people who tweet the message featured on Convert’s Tweetblast site the chance to win a $6,000, limited edition ColorWare Stealth MacBook Pro. The 14-day-long promotion that started last week has so far seen more than 16,000 people tweet about Convert, and enough people have downloaded the app to recoup the cost of the Stealth MacBook Pro, according to tap tap tap co-founder John Casasanta.

With Convert’s promotion half-way through, Casasanta shared his tips on what helped make its Twitter marketing campaign a success:


  • Consider your target demographic: Twitter is not the right platform for every developer, according to Casasanta. It was a good fit for marketing Convert because it offered access to an older, tech-savvy demographic, tap tap tap’s target audience. Facebook may be a better fit for those looking to reach a younger demographic.
  • Work on amassing a large group of Twitter followers first, then market to them: Casasanta is also one of the co-founders of MacHeist, a site that, in addition to selling heavily discounted bundles of Mac software holds an annual competition in which groups compete to get it for free. Since MacHeist’s Twitter account has built up a following of nearly 68,000 people, Casasanta decided to leverage the audience by posting a link to Convert’s Tweetblast site. That was in addition to tap tap tap’s own Twitter account, which had 2,000 followers before Convert’s Aug. 13 release and has since grown to (at last check) some 22,000.
  • Offer something for free — something that spurs people to tweet and complements the app you’re trying to sell: Apple has traditionally bundled together MacBooks with iPods, so Casasanta decided to take a page from the company’s playbook. He settled on the Stealth MacBook Pro — one of the most lusted-after gadgets in the Valley as only 10 units will reportedly be made — as both the ultimate prize for iPhone users and one that would incite enough excitement to get people to tweet about it.

Though tap tap tap’s marketing scheme for Convert worked, marketing promotions on Twitter have proven to be a hit-or-miss strategy for other companies. While web site builder Moonfruit’s campaign gained traction on Twitter, its rival Squarespace’s promotion flopped. But tap tap tap’s campaign is a testament to how Twitter’s viral sharing power can help a startup rise above the rest.

Converter app image courtesy of tap tap tap.

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7 Responses to “How an iPhone App Developer Tweeted His Way to Success”

  1. Very interesting!
    Regardless of the quality of the application this story is proof that just throwing something up on an application store is not enough. As you guys have said before – app stores are not a marketing channel – they are ‘merely’ a distribution channel. A distribution channel is worthless unless others know or hear about what you are doing – thus creating the need and the desire to purchase.

    Their marketing strategy paid off and the distribution channel was ‘robust’ enough to handle the demand.

    Jose HC

  2. I didn’t participate in the Twitter contest, but I did buy the app because I like the company. Unfortunately for me it was a major disappointment, and far less usable than other Convert apps that I have. Although it is $1.12 I still am annoyed I wasted it.

      • I’m sure many would like it, however I find there are a few too many fancy UI effects that slow it down and reduce usability – my same problem with Convertbot (which I also bought). These UIs may look cool but they really just get in the way.

        For now I am sticking with Convert by Polar Bear Farm, as it has not failed me yet.