How I spent 322 thousand rubles to promote my Telegram channel about technology and business

In the fall of 2019, I argued with my friend that I could collect more subscribers on Telegram than he did. In order to keep up, I spent 322,786 rubles on content and promotion of my channel “Reproductor Belousova”, where I write about business and technology.

The bet ended predictably. Let me tell you how I spent these couple of months and what conclusions I made for myself. An analysis of my mistakes will be useful if you are thinking of launching your Telegram channel.

A few words about myself. My name is Nikolay Belousov. In 2013, I founded Madrobots, one of the first gadget stores in Russia. My portfolio includes successfully launched brands Bevan and Zavtra. My team brought startups Picooc and Chipolo, XD Design to the Russian market.

Before the launch of the channel, I wrote a lot on Facebook, on Habré, on vc. So I had no doubts that Telegram would obey me too. Moreover, the text format of the content is clear to me. I understand it better than video or photo.

With the little help from my friends

  • Spent: 62,000 rubles to create content and pay for the editor’s work

  • Subscribers: about 1 thousand

Self-confidence is not enough, so I approached the promotion methodically, like a marketer. To begin with, I made content plan and thought about where to get the starting audience. I reasoned like this: subscribers will come to me from friends and entourage. I was lucky with this, many of my friends run Telegram channels:

First of all, I wrote to all the people on the list and agreed that they advertise my channel. All agreed, for which thanks to them. Alexander Gorny asked to write an article in exchange for a mention in Startups of the Day. This is how the text appeared, which I am proud of to this day: “Where to get money for business”… I recently updated it taking into account the realities of 2021

The audience growth, as expected, was steady, but small. Here are the results after placing ads in different channels according to the service data.

Kiba at the machine: +97
Torshina and At our factory: +474
Likhachev’s radio room: +46
The Edinorog: +251
Startup of the day: +224

Thousands of readers gathering to listen to me from scratch seemed like a promising start to me. Having taken a good start, I decided not to stop and continued to promote the channel in less friendly areas. This was not the right decision.

Walking on bots

Spent: 260 thousand rubles

Subscribers: about 4 thousand

When placements with acquaintances ran out of resources, I began to look closely at several other sources of audience. To begin with, I successfully negotiated a promotion on the blogs of Groks and Mastrida.

Mastreads: +11
Groks: +162

Dozens of people came from there, no more than I gathered organically. I wanted to grow the audience faster and more, because time passed, and I wanted to win the bet. Therefore, I decided to buy subscribers in large quantities and accidentally contacted bot bots.

Placements at bot breeders. Example 1: +79
Placements at bot breeders. Example 2: +260

A lot of readers came from them, but they were all bots, dead souls. I brought one botanist out into the open pretty quickly, but after I had paid for his services.

Feedback about the author of the PR_Hawks project, which offers subscribers in large quantities

The next logical step was to promote through opinion leaders. I immediately went all-in and spent 100,000 rubles to mention Artemy Lebedev in the channel, comforting myself with the hope that subscribers would come now. The results are eloquent:

Efficiency of placement in the superlink Lebedev 1: +61
Superlink placement efficiency Lebedev 2: +131

The first pancake is lumpy. The failure with Lebedev did not knock me down. I decided to stay with Lena Miro, with whom I have been successfully cooperating for a long time. It cost me “out of friendship” 40,000 rubles.

Lena Miro’s Placement Efficiency: +442

Almost 400 people came from Miro, which was already a decent result against the background of other placements.

This is the internet, baby

Paradoxically, most of the subscribers were brought by my friend’s post, with whom my Telegram channel began.

I saved this screenshot for last.

Channel placement efficiency No products needed: +718

After one mention in the channel @ No products needed almost 700 people subscribed to me. But this did not save me, at the end of December 2019 I realized that the dispute was lost and there was nothing I could do. It doesn’t work out quickly to reach a mass audience, no matter how hard I try to promote myself.

How exactly did I spend 322,786 rubles? I spent the lion’s share on promotion, the effect of which was homeopathic. I attach a breakdown of costs:

Telegram channel expenses @ ni404head
Telegram channel expenses @ ni404head

Disappointed, I abandoned the channel for almost a year. The maximum number of subscribers reached January 6, 2020, and then the audience began to decline. Now I have about five thousand subscribers and I started writing again, trying to grow an audience organically, without trying to overtake someone.

I write about specialized topics: gadgets, new technologies, business trends, post summaries of business books and regularly publish polls for readers. It turns out pretty good.

Dynamics of the number of subscribers
Dynamics of the number of subscribers

What conclusions can be drawn from my story?

  1. Paid channel promotion on Telegram is expensive. A subscriber can cost a hundred rubles.

  2. There are many bot bots in TG who, under the guise of a live audience, slip bots.

  3. Promotion through influencers is unreasonably expensive compared to the audience they lead.

  4. The only working method of promotion is mutual PR of friendly channels through the exchange of content. You need to do this systematically, that is, invest a lot of time in the process.

Perhaps you have experience with relatively cheap channel promotion? I would be grateful for advice and sound criticism.

If you liked this column, subscribe to my channel @ Reproducer Belousov

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