Dropbox is a great service, that does one thing, and does it very well – it makes sure your important files are backed-up and synchronized between your different computers, seamlessly, reliably and for free. (Disclaimer – if you subscribe through the link I posted, both you and I will get an extra 250 megabytes of storage).
I just saw this great post on Lifehacker that explains how to get an additional gigabyte of free online storage on Dropbox, in addition to the 2 gigabytes they give to everyone. When I started going through the motions described in the post, I got excited about the excellent marketing and product ideas the Dropbox people engineered.
For you to get the first 250mb, you simply have to complete a few basic steps: You need to skim through a short tutorial on how to use Dropbox, you need to install it on at least two computers, and you need to share a folder with a friend. These simple requirements use your desire to get a small capacity upgrade to teach you important things about the product. Teaching your users how to use the product you’re building is a far from trivial task – users will insist on ignoring your best features, user manuals, and help tutorials. The genious here is that now, Dropbox users suddenly have motivation to do all these things – and motivated users make for good students. I love how they don’t only make you go through the tutorial, but actually use two core features (synchronizing and sharing) to get the capacity upgrade.
The second, and not less brilliant tale is how you get another 750mb for free. This time, they divided the free loot between discrete, simple tasks. First, you can connect your social accounts to Dropbox (without posting anything there). This is relatively innocent, and you really have no reason not to do this (hey, who would refuse a free 384mb for nothing).
Then, they ask you to tell them “Why do you love Dropbox?” This is relatively easy, because at this points odds are you really do love dropbox, and you don’t mind taking a minute to formulate it in a one-liner.
Now comes the kicker. After you’ve done all of the above, you can get an extra 250mb by simply sharing what you already wrote about Dropbox on Facebook and Twitter. You might feel less inclined to post random status on Facebook just to get some free space, but in this case I personally felt more comfortable doing so because, after all, this is stuff I already told Dropbox about – the distance between this to creating one more status line on Facebook is not much (just a button click, in fact).
The benefit to Dropbox, as you can imagine, is huge. Again, users are being motivated, and this time they are driven to generate and share positive feedback about the product! Driving users is a hard thing to do, and the Dropbox team does it in an inspiring way.
Bonus / Marketing plug: If you reached it so far, you own an iPhone, and live in Israel, please give my friend and teammate Roman a visit on his new Dr iPhones website. He’s a really talented guy (at fixing iPhones, among other things), and he’s cheaper and more reliable than some of the alternatives.