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How to Get Your First 100,000 Downloads from Teenagers: Step-by-Step Guide


To get 100,000 downloads from teenagers, you first need to know a bunch of things about them. After helping thousands of app developers advertise to teens, we’ve figured out exactly what you need to know about teenagers so you can connect and engage with them effectively.

Which platforms should I work with?

Snapchat and Instagram. Fact.

Although teenagers do hang out on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, they are most engaged by far on Snapchat and Instagram, which they visit much more frequently. These are platforms custom-built for a Gen Z audience, and designed to keep teenagers entertained. There’s a reason Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, spends all of his efforts on Instagram, while 60% of 13-24 year olds in the UK and USA use Snapchat.


What makes teens download apps?

Teenagers are a tricky audience. They know when they’re being advertised to, so unless you’ve got a killer ad which stands out and engages them, you won’t get very far.

In our experience, teenagers download apps based on these six criteria:

  • It’s fun or useful. Angry birds was fun, exciting, and addictive! Snapchat – something fun. Uber – extremely useful! Ask yourself if your app will entertain teenagers? Will it make their life easier, or more fun? Will it provide value to them?
  • There’s hype. If your app is going viral, there's a very high chance teens will jump on it simply because of it’s viral status. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful force among a millennial audience, and when that FOMO becomes connected to an app, people download it. Remember the mobile platformer, Temple Run? It took off for this exact reason.
  • Recommendations. Similarly, if one teenager recommends that another teen download the app, chances are much higher that he/she will download it. That’s how Snapchat got it’s first users, via word of mouth in LA Schools.
  • They need to see it regularly. With 100,000s of marketeers reaching out to teenagers every day, they know they can take their time when deciding whether or not to install. This means you need to put your content – whether ads, posts, or videos – in front of them multiple times. We've found that teenagers are much more likely to install an app once they've seen it four or more times.
  • Free/Freemium. Offer a free trial, or make your app free if you want teens to download it. Spotify did this very well; their freemium version has converted to millions of dollars from teens.
  • Trust. Teenagers are digital natives: they are adept at carrying out a huge amount of activities online – from shopping to music streaming. That means, if something doesn’t look trustworthy, they'll find somewhere else to go. To combat this, you need to make your app look as trustworthy and professional as possible, with the positive reviews to support this.

Below we’ll outline strategies to get teens to download your app and how you act on the points above.

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From 0 to 1,000 Installs

Getting your first 1,000 installs is a big step. Every successful app has gone through this stage. After helping launch hundreds of apps here are some things we found which can make all the difference in helping you reach your first 1000 users.

1. Give your app a searchable name

Snapchat. Instagram. Angry Birds. Temple Run. All these are eye-catchig, memorable names, which are easy to search for.

  • Try to limit yourself to 1-3 keywords when naming your app. On average, this will increase the number of hits your app gets via app store searches by 10.3%.
  • Research your competitors' keywords. See what makes them reach the top of search engines (on the app stores and otherwise) and use the same keywords.
  • Aim for high traffic search keywords with low competition; those will help your app take off faster.
  • Try to make the name of the app convey what your app is about. Todoist, for example, is an app about making to-do lists, and the name sticks!

2. Perfect your picture icon

If a teen sees your app icon looks unprofessional, they will not download it. Simple. They won’t trust it.

  • Make your icon unique, simple and professional.
  • If possible, use a shape or symbol relevant to your app.
  • Differentiate your icon from your competitors’ icons.
  • Use a design that is consistent with your app’s design. See, for example, the correspondance between Snapchat’s app icon and it’s design.
  • Choose a color with positive associations. Aim for darker colours for an older audience and lighter colours for a younger audience: Snapchat, Instagram and Angry birds all use bright colours.

3. Choose specific and searchable keywords

As mentioned above, research the keywords your users and competitors are using, and aim for high traffic search keywords with low competition.

  • Be creative about maximizing the keywords you can use within 100 character limit.
  • Change which keywords you use in response to changes in the market.

4. Create and distribute compelling video content

Teenagers seem to love videos, as they have a higher conversion rate. Using the right kind of video content provide huge growth, if it is distributed to the right people.

  • Put the key features towards the beginning.
  • Summarize the app in an efficient manner.
  • A voice-over can help enhance trust, and it makes you look professional.
  • Post the video on YouTube.
  • If possible, wrap up your app promotion in the format of a story.

5. Design high quality screenshots

One of the best ways to look professional and trustworthy is by including high quality screenshots in your app's pages on the app stores. This will help teenagers feel like your app is worth downloading over the others. (Think of it like turning up for a date. If you don’t clean up well, your date will leave!)

  • Highlight important features.
  • Use a logical order.
  • Show common user flows.
  • Check out the competition to see how you can differentiate your app.
  • If your target users come from multiple countries, localize the screenshots specifically.
  • Add strong calls-to-action, using strong, imperative words ('install', 'buy', 'play', and so on).

6. Get positive reviews

Teenagers rely very heavily on reviews, whether they're buying something on Amazon downloading an app. If you are unable to benefit from virality or don’t have direct contact with your users, your reviews will be your salesmen. Make use of them!

Reviews have the added benefit of helping with App Store SEO and gaining feedback to improve your app. Simply put, the better your app, the more teenagers will download it.

  • Try to obtain at least 75-100 reviews per new version of your app.
  • Despite the previous point, it is far better to focus on quality over quantity. 100 five star reviews is far better than an average 3 star rating from 1,000 reviews.
  • Encourage users to review your app by offering in-app incentives.
  • Check the ratings and reviews weekly and fix items mentioned in multiple negative reviews - this will be your make-or-break feature. Your first 1,000 users are your first loyal followers. They will help you make your app better if you listen to them.
  • Make the review process fast and easy for users.

7. Create hype before launch

One great way to reach your first 1,000 users (and keep your momentum high afterwards) is to actually create your user base before you even launch! Get influencers, bloggers, youtubers, etc. involved to raise awareness of your app and to encourage people to sign up in advance of the release. It often works best to be a little secretive. Give away little about the app, but emphasise the problem you’ll be solving. Tease them!

8. Tell your friends

This goes without saying. If you want people to download your app, one of your first tasks should be to tell the people you know about it, especially if you your friends (or children!) are teenagers. (If you have few real life friends, well we’re sorry to hear that, but fear not, you can get similar insights and harsh truths by posting on forums and blogs about your app).

9. Tell your friends to tell their friends

Get your friends to tell their friends, offering incentives if you have to! Get them to put your app on their social media. One effective tactic is getting them to post your app on their Instagram story or Snapchat story – that’s where teens hang out and it is sure to reache a large audience. Alternatively, you can get influencers to do the same thing and get you more than 1000 users but it’ll come at a price!

10. Hustling

Whitney Wolfe, Tinder’s co-founder, hustled hard.

“Her pitch was pretty genius. She would go to chapters of her sorority, do her presentation, and have all the girls at the meetings install the app. Then she’d go to the corresponding brother fraternity—they’d open the app and see all these cute girls they knew.”

Tinder had fewer than 5,000 users before Wolfe made her trip, when she returned, there were some 15,000.

To help put some of the above points into action, here are some useful tools to help understand where the installs are coming from.

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Sensor Tower uses a fully automated Keyword App Ranking Tracking Tool that gives developers access to accurate data on a per-keyword basis. This service offers improvements and changes in marketing campaigns and can also be tracked along with changes to actual app keywords. Some additional features include being able to view competitor data on a keyword by keyword basis.

App Annie’s ASO tools give access to the most important metrics needed in order to maximize organic search traffic. App Annie will show you which apps are ranking for the leading search terms which is helpful to publishers who emphasize the testing and refining of keywords.

AppStatics is the go-to app for developers who want to track their iOS and MAC apps in Apple’s Top 300 App Store rankings across each and every country. By doing this, AppStatistics provides the client with a comprehensive and truly global perspective of the App Store. Features include being able to browse top rankings by geography, category, and platform.

Appsflyer is a Fanbytes favourite. It’s an app analytics tool to track installs around the globe from various media campaigns running. We use it when running all campaigns for clients to track their apps installs so we strongly recommend using it when running any advertising campaigns. Adjust is a popular alternative to Appsflyer.

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From 1,000 to 10,000 Installs

Once you reach your first 1,000 users, it's time to take things up a notch. Keep doing what you were doing to get your first 1,000, but now you’ll need to pump in a bit of money and some more manpower to ensure that your growth is sustained.

We’ve outlined various ways you can encourage teenagers to download your app, when your userbase is over 1,000.

1. Host an event

Calendar and events app Calio did this very well. They held an art exhibition (not entirely relevant to the app!) but the rule was to download the app as your ticket of entry. They instantly gained hundreds of installs.

If you run a large event targeted at teens, there's a chance for hundreds and even thousands of people to download your app. Be sure to create Snap filter for the event too to get extra reach and exposure. If your app is good enough, the word-of-mouth/viral effect will kick in!

2. Spread your message

Post on Facebook, Quora, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest and more! These platforms may not be as popular among teenagers as Snapchat and Instagram, but broadening your net will always help. Being referenced on a lot of different websites will also help when it comes to backlinking.

3. (More) app store optimisation

At this point, you’ve likely received enough feedback from your first 1,000 users to take your app to the next level. A better app should lead to a higher ranking in the app stores which, in turn, leads to more exposure. Even the 50th highest music player app have over one million downloads!

  • You should try and repeat important keywords at least five times in your app's description.
  • Have your keyword in your app name.
  • Reinforce keywords and optimise your SEO via backlinks.

4. Find where your competitors are getting their traffic

Use SimilarWeb to find exactly where your competitors are getting their traffic from, then consider run ads in the same places!

Make sure your ads are engaging. On Snapchat for example, although we have a massive influencer distribution network, our ads still make all the difference. We ensure to make them engaging for teenagers using our knowledge and expertise, otherwise they simply won’t care about what we had to say!

5. Influencers

When it comes to teenagers, one of the best strategies to take your app to the next level is using influencers. It’s similar to getting your app recommended by friends but at a much higher scale!

Teenagers love to follow influencers; influencers create trends, so when teens see products being advertised by them they know they better jump on before it’s too late (#FOMO).

The comedy app Laughs used this method to great effect. They came to Fanbytes with a $3K budget, 0 downloads and high ambitions: they needed 10,000 installs to raise $15K investment. We created an engaging ad and distributed their ad across large influencer network to help them exceed their target!

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From 10,000 to 100,000 Installs

At this point, you’re on track to being the next big thing! If you're able to play your cards right – maintaining momentum and implementing the strategies above and below – you’re on your way to millions of downloads!

It’s all about the long term game now, with short term gains along the way.

1. SEO for your app/website

This goes hand in hand with app store optimisation. Both your website and your app store listings should be optimised. Teeagers (like everyone else) are prone to clicking on the first thing they search for, so you better be it!

2. Blog posts

This will help in two ways. First, you’ll establish lots of backlinks to help with SEO. Second, they'll help provide positive exposure for you app.

The good thing about blog posts is they’re usually structured to address a problem or search query for a large audience. That means, when a user searches for a problem/something your app could provide for, it’ll be answered in a blog post WITH your app. It’s a subtle and automatic sales process!

3. List your app

List your app on websites like StartUpLister. This will help you gain exposure and build backlinking – an important part of the long term game!

4. News publications

Now you have 10,000+ downloads and enough feedback to be sure your app is stellar, you're in a strong position to reach out to news publications! Tell them about your app, tell them your story, and do whatever you can to make some noise. If 10,000 people are using it, you can be sure your app deserves the exposure!

Bear in mind that, for best results, your news needs to appeal to teens. Without that appeal, there’s little use having a major news publication mention your app release. It needs to speak to teens, referring to the exact problem you’re solving for them.

Use social proof to your advantage: mention the fact it has 10,000 teens already using it, say it’s starting to go viral, and create FOMO (that teen buzzword, Fear Of Missing Out).

5. Use memes to get your app going viral

Teens love memes! They view an average of 25 everyday, and by leveraging memes effectively you can get a lot of attention online. Get someone to make your app into a meme or do it yourself an get it on meme pages to go viral! You can directly reach Instagram meme pages or use Fanbytes’ carefully sourced network and ad creation expertise to use memes and other techniques to make your app go viral.

6. Influencers

This strategy is applicable to every app marketing stage from 0 downloads to millions.

After laughs received its $15K investment and 10,000 downloads using Fanbytes, it pumped money straight back into our platform to gain 100,000 downloads!

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Akash Ruparelia

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