Some entrepreneurs love to throw money at see viral effects before their product finds traction. I know this because I used to be one of those entrepreneurs.
It is NEVER recommended to do paid ads or spend money on getting virality until you have found stickiness aka traction.
If you try to scale in any way, even if it is not paid before you find Product Market Fit, you will never build a sustainable business. This is especially true for consumer facing products.
Look at monthly, weekly, daily active users – how long until they became inactive? how many became reactive when you contacted them? What are the qualities of engaged repeat users? Can you pin-point which feature is causing them to come back?
Engagement will never be accidental. You need to measure, test and then iterate based on what you learned. User behavior data is your holy grail.
Do not work towards new traffic until you know for sure that you can turn those users into engaged users.
Disclaimer: the title is inspired by a news story I just read. Some guy making premature ejaculation treatment alleges that he got royally screwed by a big consumer product company after they stole his intellectual property and started marketing similar product. Now he is suing for $150 million. Don’t be like Promescent, but IP is discussion for another day.