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How to Make Your Android App Promote Itself Socially in Just 4 Lines of Code!

Android’s built-in sharing function is a great way to spread the word about your first Android App. In this brief tutorial I’m not only going to show you how to set up sharing from your app, but I’m also going to spill my secrets on how sharing can make your app market itself!

Think it Through Like a User…

First, decide how you want users to share your app. Users can share the app through clicking a menu item you create, you can prompt users to share your app through a dialog box (popup), you can place a button/link on the screen to “Share This App”, etc. Whatever you decide, ensure it will make the most sense for your app and your users. For instance, I’d only prompt users to share your app via a popup if your app was free and users may reasonably feel you deserve the free marketing. If your app is paid, be much more subtle with asking users to share your app, they’re paid customers after all and don’t really owe you anything.

The Magical Code

Once you decide how you’re going to get users to share your app, you need to create the Intent that makes it all happen. In my app – Saving Made Simple I’ve created an AlertDialog box that pops up and asks the user to share my app with their friends. The following code is all that’s needed on the appropriate button to share my app:

public void onClick(DialogInterface dialog, int id) {

    // Create the share intent using Intent.ACTION_SEND, this is the action apps
    // like Facebook will be listening for
    Intent share_intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_SEND);

    // In this example I'm sharing some text and a URL to my Google Play page for
    // my app therefore the Type is text/plain.
    // Change .setType if your sending an image, video, etc.

    // Add your message and URL that you'd like to share. In this case, I created 
    // a string resource called pitch which includes a short promotional message 
    // (with targeted #hashtags) which is included before the URL to my Google Play page.
            Intent.EXTRA_TEXT, getString(R.string.pitch) // Promotional string
            + " "
            + ""); // URL

    // Starts the Activity launching the Intent's chooser method. The chooser method is the
    // menu users get upon selecting Share, this menu shows all apps available to share with.
    startActivity(Intent.createChooser(share_intent, "Share...")); // Creates the sharing menu titled "Share..."

    dialog.dismiss(); // Close the AlertDialog

As you can see, it’s very straight-forward, much more so than one would expect. The code above can easily be placed wherever a click/touch is captured; simply change your pitch string and the URL and you’d have a working solution for promoting your app through your users!

The Secret Viral Sauce – Incentives

Enabling sharing alone however won’t effectively market your app. In order to gain a significant amount of user participation your app must give the user incentive to share it. All viral social networking promotions are built around incentive and therefore you must determine how to also motivate your users appropriately.

In my app Saving Made Simple, before users can add a homescreen widget, I require that they share my app through Android’s sharing mechanism. This has worked very well for my app as widgets are a central part of the app and users don’t mind jumping through a small hoop to unlock this functionality. For other apps, incentives may include:

  • Rewarding users with game points upon sharing your app
  • Unlocking a new feature upon sharing
  • Removing ads temporarily upon sharing
  • Removing time limits or adding time to a trial upon sharing

Be creative with the incentives you use, users love to be rewarded! As the second paragraph above mentions though, don’t over do it and don’t be too pushy with your users.

To get a better idea of how social sharing can make your app viral, download Saving Made Simple and attempt to add a widget, I think you will get it rather quickly!

I hope this tutorial gives you ideas on how you can make your Android app social and potentially kick off a viral marketing campaign.


One comment

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