6 ways to shake up social your app

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Although there is a large percentage of top apps that are social, numbers from
Apple and Google show that on average only 3-5 apps are downloaded a month. On top of that, according to Localytics, only about 25% of those apps continue to be used. So, why are so few apps successful? Bottom line - most suck.

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6 ways to shake up social your app

  1. 1. ways to shake up social in your app6
  2. 2. There is a lot of talk about mobile going social, but come on guys - it already has. In fact, not having a well socially integrated app could be a deal breaker if you want to rank at the top of the app store lists. In a 2012 report by Nielson, 80% of the top 15 apps had some sort of a social or local dynamic. On the other hand, a social addition to your mobile application could be a total bust. Although there is a large percentage of top apps that are social, numbers from Apple and Google show that on average only 3-5 apps are downloaded a month. On top of that, according to Localytics, only about 25% of those apps continue to be used. So, why are so few apps successful? Bottom line - most suck. In order for a mobile app to have a widely used social component, the implementation must be well thought out. Many social components in apps are added as a mechanism to spread the word of the application. This doesn’t always fly too well with the users as the social additions are regarded as shameless promotion. However, there are social additions that have boosted apps enormously by providing convenience, interaction, or expression. It all boils down to creating value for the users; there always has to be something in it for them. So, how do you do that? 1. Complement the user journey with relevant information 2. Encourage social interaction with a clear purpose 3. Provide an outlet for users to express themselves 4. Use social to motivate and encourage 5. Give users a sense of involvement 6. Don’t make it too intrusive Apps all across the board are now social, with dominators like Candy Crush Saga and Instagram leading the way; everyone wants their app to be the hot new thing with users and their friends. Making your app social could be a major improvement and make a huge benefit to your business, whether your goal is to get a word out or build stronger customer relationships. Introduction 80% of the top 15 apps had some sort of a social or local dynamic.
  3. 3. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 3 One of the main benefits of social integration is providing users with valuable social information, like that review on Yelp that saved you from a bad restaurant. What seems like a small- scale improvement of convenience can improve daily life on a large scale. Sunrise, a design-oriented calendar app, does a good job of this and has 4+ stars on the app store to prove it. Sunrise lets users RSVP to Facebook and Google calendar events through one app. The newest update also integrates with Foursquare, CrunchBase, and Google maps, allowing users to see information on who they are meeting, how to get where they are going, and where they have been. Waze, a real-time road-travel information app that boasts 50 million users, has also included a Facebook integration to let users “drive with their friends”. People can regularly see their friends driving locations, departure times and estimated arrival times - making it easier to meet up and coordinate carpools. These features also work together with Facebook events; road-travel, directions, and individual locations are organized when the event time rolls around. This is helpful not only because it improves communication, but also because it allows users to let their friends know where they are without having to text or call whilst driving. In the end it’s all about making the information useable. Instead of sharing a movie from a cinema service app, allow the users to ask their friends to vote for which movie they want to see. This is real social interaction that builds valuable information right into the user journey. 1. Compliment the user journey with relevant information The social integration into mobile apps allows users to let their friends know where they are without having to text or call whilst driving. Yelp! Sunrise Waze
  4. 4. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 4 There needs to be a good reason for people to use your app’s social features. This can be achieved by creating friendly competition, bragging rights, or mutual benefit for users through socializing. Many gaming apps such as Words with Friends, Run with Friends and Draw Something, are quite good at this. These Zynga apps provide an easy way for people to keep in touch by implementing direct competition between two friends. Since keeping in touch with friends is hard to accomplish in today’s busy lifestyle, app users really value this fun feature. A good example of bragging rights is the game Dots; aside from being an addicting mini-game on its own, many like to share their high scores on Facebook and compare with their friends. Then there’s Candy Crush Saga, which gets 500 million plays a day. Candy Crush is having so much success right now that even one out of seven people in Hong Kong are playing and people in the South Pole (where the population doesn’t reach 200 in summer months) are also crushing candies. The ever popular bejeweled-style game has created a massive social movement because, in this case, the Facebook activity isn’t just an option but a requirement. Players need to cooperate with their Facebook friends to beg for boosts, get extra lives and improve their overall score in the game. Farmville also followed a similar pattern and was widely successful. The players of these games were more willing to share their game activity on Facebook because doing so helped their gameplay. Keep in mind that these games don’t require real-time socializing; they let people keep in touch and crush their friends in Draw Something on their own time. A social integration with a clear purpose creates values and reason for users to keep coming back for more. 2. Encourage social interaction with a clear purpose These games don’t require real-time socializing; they let people keep in touch and play on their own time. Dots Words with Friends Candy Crush Saga
  5. 5. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 5 Almost everybody has an opinion on something and many people like to create their own content. If you have an app that allows users to manifest their thoughts into existence, social media sharing may improve upon the app’s utility; allowing users to express themselves. A good example is Spotify’s use of Facebook. Spotify gives users the option to share their listening activity on Facebook and follow their friends’ listening activity. This functionality lets people broadcast their taste, an opinion in the form of music. For users without Facebook or for those who opt not to set-up Facebook with Spotify the app also allows users to follow their Spotify friends and favorite musicians to get recommendations. All of these social features not only allow users broadcast their taste, an opinion in the form of music, but also discover music through their friends’ and favorite musicians’ listening activity. These utilities are great, however, there are always going to be people that might not want to share their content, so be sure your app’s sharing is optional so that you don’t broadcast to the world when Vanilla Ice comes across the playlist. Another way to allow users to express themselves is by playing with image motivation, i.e. using the appeal of personal branding to encourage user engagement. However, be careful with this approach because people may not always need social validation, as a popular new photo-sharing app Rando proves. Rando is a photo exchange where users don’t know where their photo is sent nor who it is being seen by. There are no “likes” or friends, just self-expression. A social network for link-sharing called Potluck is coming to iOS with a similar concept. Potluck focuses on content rather than user popularity. You can still participate in discussions, but like Rando, there are no “likes” and posts are not paired with a username. For the many users that do create their own content, there are also many that only lurk. Some just don’t care for getting their opinion out there for everyone to see. Regardless, self- expression is a human need and social integration without the pressure of publicity might be a great value addition. So whether it’s through polls, likes, ratings or sharing, make expression as easy as possible for users of all kinds. Make expression as easy as possible for internet users of all kinds. This can be done through polls, likes, and ratings. 3. Provide an outlet for users to express themselves + +
  6. 6. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 6 The new surge of mobile fitness apps are good examples of communities created in which users encourage and motivate each other to get fit. The most popular running app on iTunes, Nike+ Running, uses social interaction as motivation to exercise, turning every like and comment into sounds of a cheering audience. Another exercise tracking app, Fitocracy, makes use of a community to provide encouragement and fitness knowledge through numerous discussion groups in different categories - connecting anyone from body builders to yoga enthusiasts. There is, however, a new app on the scene, Cody, which plays more with behavioral economics and focuses on social interaction to make working out fun. It’s less of a workout tracking app for intense health buffs and more of a social network specifically for casual fitness exercisers. Users can post workout photos, status updates, and follow their friends on Cody. Both the usages of these apps’ social aspects work because they motivate people to do something everyone needs to do anyway: be active. 4. Use social to motivate or encourage The new mobile fitness apps motivate people to do something everyone needs to do anyway: be active. Nike+Running Fitocracy Cody
  7. 7. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 7 Involvement can come in many forms, but higher user engagement can be useful to them and you. A study by MarketingPower.com shows that if social elements in digital platforms provide feelings of human interaction, users will feel more emotionally satisfied. Thus, social listening additions such as a comments stream, reviews section, weekly poll, like or rating button can let users get involved with the apps development. When consumers exchange information or advice about a product they develop a sense of “community” and start becoming attached to brand. This kind of user behavior is especially prominent in the streetwear market within forums like Hypebeast.com, a breeding ground for brand loyalty. Fans of popular labels like Supreme consolidate in such style forums and discuss new releases, post photos and more. Businesses can also visit the popular forums to see what is currently beloved amongst consumers. Another alternative is getting people directly involved with the brand. In 2011 Giorgio Armani used Foursquare for a contest to promote a new fragrance, Armani Code Sport. Whoever had the most “epic night”, i.e. checked into the most hotspots in one night, got a free bottle of cologne. The contest was also a way of endorsing the brand lifestyle. It’s fun and lets the users have a bit of control over what they’re consuming, thus strengthening brand loyalty. If social elements in digital platforms provide feelings of human interaction users will feel more emotionally satisfied 5. Give users a sense of involvement Foursquare
  8. 8. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 8 Examples of intrusiveness are the many apps that force users to create a user profile or log in with social network details. Target recently released its own coupon app called Cartwheel. The deals you get are great, you can get up to 30% off on top of any other offers and discounts. Too bad it requires a sign-up via Facebook and literally publishes every single purchase you make with the app’s discounts. Consequently, the app’s reviews consist of consumer unrest with the sneaky promotion. An alternative is to make social media sign-in optional. Let the users get acquainted with your app first, then when they realize the app is awesome, it will make more sense to them to make an account or link their account with a social network. If you want to use Facebook connect for tech or budget reasons, just make sure to have an option in the settings to turn sharing on or off. But it doesn’t end there, make sure you are transparent with your users about what content will be shared, and how. It’s extremely off-putting when users find that all of their app activity has spammed Facebook without their consent. Make sure there are no surprises; let the user authenticate the app’s integration with Facebook and do not prefill the message field for an app activity post. Let the users get acquainted with your app before making an account or linking their account with a social network. 6. Don’t make it too intrusive app
  9. 9. While almost all apps have some time of social media element with the hope of engaging customers, building brand awareness, driving traffic and influencing sales, not all of them are using it wisely. Take the guidelines above and start brainstorming about the best way to use social in your app. Take a strategic approach to your implementation because the pitfalls of an improperly planned, executed and managed social media strategy could easily outweigh the potential benefits. Many brands and developers have already learned the hard way, enduring embarrassing and sometimes costly mistakes. So, before you start coding, make sure you haven’t fallen for some of the common pitfalls out there that make apps social integration fail. Social Media Pitfalls
  10. 10. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 10 1. Not every app needs a social integration First things first - the integration must feel natural. Many apps fail because the social element feels forced. So what you need to ask yourself is, if your app already exists, was social even a mission component of the app to begin with? If not, do users need or want a social option now? The fact is, that overlooking this basic question can happen to anyone. Several years ago Apple tried to create an entire social network around its iTunes called Ping (yeah – we forget out it too; R.I.P. 9/30/2012). Ping was very similar to Facebook, right down to the color theme, but was not connected in any way. Maybe Ping could’ve been a great social network, but because it didn’t offer anything that other apps like Spotify or Facebook didn’t already have it failed to take off. That being said, people were not willing to switchover, especially since their entire network had already been built in a different application. The leading social apps create a new concept that many other apps successfully branch off of, but it works because there is differentiation. Although Ping was not a success, there is talk that the new iOS7 iTunes radio has social potential similar to Spotify – so let’s see how Apple does it the 2nd time around, they don’t like to fail twice. Spotify has 6 million paying subscribers and a total of 24 million users (25% of users pay). Gets over 1 billion shares (instances of app activity) on Facebook a day. Their 110 million songs, albums and radio gets 40 million plays each day. Source: Spotify, 2013
  11. 11. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 11 Instagram’s new video option has slowed content consumption and is one of the reasons many users question whether or not it was a good idea. Not everyone with a smartphone has fabulous bandwidth, some rely on free Wi-Fi, and integration of social dynamic may cause slower processing. It could potentially ruin the user experience and thus your app. Even Skype, the most popular free VoIP, has many problems with lag and bugs, generating 2.5 star ratings in the app store and a load of unhappy user ratings. So yes, you should be concerned if your app social features are impacting app performance or quality. 2. New features can impact an app’s performance Over 70% of mobile app users would write a bad review for an app if it froze or crashed, 59% would for slow responsiveness. Source: uSamp, 2012. “Now when I go on to check the feed, it’s jammed with stupid 15 second video clips that slow down the app.” “I love instagram, I really do, but I hate the new video feature, 1. It makes the feed really slow…” “There have been a number of times already, even with my LTE iPhone 5, that I couldn’t load videos fast enough in Instagram.” “New UI is quite good. But I really miss a button to quit the app, for real, without background process.” “Very poor connection, the people can’t see me. I don’t know if contacts are online. I would like the older version.” Instagram Skype
  12. 12. 6 ways to shake up social in your app 2013 12 A share button isn’t much more than a visual cue for users, but for content to be shareable it must be entertaining, informative, controversial, or even emotional. Start with the basics - identify the natural social and sharing behavior of the content on a mobile device (showing it to a friend, posting photos of something fun/beautiful, etc.). So ask yourself, does your app provide something memorable enough to be shared? Is it notable? If not (or not yet), create your content so that people can get involved, and make it easy to do so. 3. Adding a share button doesn’t make the content share worthy VALUEEXCHANGE GREAT STORY FRESH INTEREST DISRUPTIVE SIMPLE CREATIVE PROOF IDEAS ADVOCACY PARTICIPATION SOCIAL Source: Ogilvy & Mather
  13. 13. Making your mobile app more popular through social isn’t as easy as adding a Facebook share or like button. In designing for social dynamic, you must understand the user, what, when, and how they want to share. The integration has to be seamless and built into, not tacked onto, the overall user journey. Rather than pushing your app’s info out, try to pull relevant info in to enrich the experience. Keep it fresh with an ongoing conversation; make sure the material is updated and relevant to the current users. Lastly, it’s important not to get too caught up in formulating the social path on which your information travels, instead make sure the content is strong enough to be spread first. With that, we wish you the best of luck! Conclusion
  14. 14. • http://mashable.com/2013/06/02/mobile-design-tips/ • http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2013/5/16/how-many-apps-do-android-and-ios-users-download • http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/03/21/app.engagement.gahran/ • http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/south-pole-weather-200-degrees-of-separation-from washington-dcs-scorching-heat/2012/07/17/gJQAzq4BrW_blog.html • http://www.marketingpower.com/ResourceLibrary/Publications/JournalofMarketing/2007/71/3/jmkg.71.3.143.pdf • http://mashable.com/2013/06/20/video-for-instagram-poll/ • http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682946/the-principles-of-social-design-how-to-make-content-shareable#1 Sources
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