All aboard? Turning users into active users

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My talk at Twitter's Chirp developer conference on April 15, 2010.

Talk description:
Enabling users to sign up with Twitter is a nice first step but it's just the beginning of turning those users into active users of your site. Learn about how we think about onboarding users at Twitter and some ways in which you can use Twitter Connect and the Twitter graph to help get your users going more quickly.

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  • Title Slide.
    • “let’s get to it”

  • • From Summmize
    • Search, platform (might remember API Group)
    • OAuth (sorry) - xAuth/cash-for-guns?
    • International (translation, char counting, twitter-text)
  • • Before the technical stuff a little info on why you should be interested.
    • the main reason: Users







  • It’s a progression and en evolution.
    We know that once we get users engaged, they're crazy engaged.
    Twitter is the first source they check, or the first place they think of to share something interesting








  • Magnets: what attracts users to your app
    Hooks: what interests them and keeps them coming back
    Glue: what keeps them sticking around
  • How many of you watch LOST?
    polarizing
    those who started watching the show early, more engaged
    those who joined halfway in, less so - context, character development, back story
    Art of the RECAP: recap episodes to catch up new viewers, pop-up repeats, Previously on LOST
    Joining Twitter: entering the middle of a conversation
    context, characters, moving stream - hard to jump in and feel immediately comfortable.


  • Real world example: Getting a drivers license. Technically, it’s kind of a pain. But you’re willing to go through it all because you have clear motivation. You know why you want to drive, so you’re willing to slug through the how.
  • Real world example: Getting a drivers license. Technically, it’s kind of a pain. But you’re willing to go through it all because you have clear motivation. You know why you want to drive, so you’re willing to slug through the how.



  • Real world example: Getting a drivers license. Technically, it’s kind of a pain. But you’re willing to go through it all because you have clear motivation. You know why you want to drive, so you’re willing to slug through the how.


  • Casual users may often make up your largest group. They are potentially your largest, yet most volatile group. They are on the cusp of either advancing to committed, or giving up because they don’t see the point.
  • a Learning curve, despite its simplicity
    b Early adopters vs mainstream
    c path to discovering the value
    d finding people is hard, finding topics is harder
    e strange syntax (@, RT, DM, #, bit.ly)
    f fragments of conversations
    g conceptual level: it's not like Facebook or LinkedIn where you need symmetrical relationships

  • In catering to casual users...
    Connect them with relevance ASAP. This is Twitters BSOD.
    Avoid the BSOD: not the blue screen of death from Windows. In Web Apps, this is the Blank Screen of Death

  • Hindsight is 20/20.


  • 37 Signals does a pretty good job of avoiding the blank screen for new users.
    For screens that don’t yet have any content, or even for features of an app that require upgrading to use, they try not to show you a blank screen, but rather, a view into how this screen could look once it has content on it. Gives you ideas, prevents you losing interest.
  • The old SUL (what it attempted to solve, the issues it created, lack of transparency, select all)
    Our lesson: Don’t solve problems with a solution that creates more problems.
    Next slide: Sometimes lessons like trying to think ahead, or considering the impact of careless actions can only be learned in hindsight.

  • Users now choose each source they follow, one at a time, rather than the mass-select-all followings from the original SUL.



  • Real world example: Getting a drivers license. Technically, it’s kind of a pain. But you’re willing to go through it all because you have clear motivation. You know why you want to drive, so you’re willing to slug through the how.



  • These are our high-frequency consumers and/or publishers. Our self-made evangelists and promoters, our trend-setters. These are the users who can reach out to others, create curiosity or awareness, and drive engagement on lower rungs of the ladder.




  • We don’t market or advertise. Instead, we provide tools for users to promote themselves on twitter (like widgets, buttons,
  • also effective for another category of users:
    comatose: dormant users who signed up, then disappeared.
    Reasons: didn’t see value, friends weren’t here, couldn’t find anything interesting.
    Many more of their friends are on Twitter now - experimenting with ways to reach out to comatose



  • Speaking of removing features or keeping them out:
    Love this quote: Michael Lopp, Eng Dir @ Apple.
    What if this decision didn’t matter? What if we could remove this decision completely?







  • All aboard? Turning users into active users

    1. All aboard? Turning users into active users by Josh Elman (@joshelman)
    2. What’s on Tap • Hashtag for Questions: #chirponboard • Who’s this guy? • What is a “user”? • Making a ladder of engagement • Curious -> Casual -> Committed • Getting your committed users to help
    3. Josh Elman / @joshelman • Joined Twitter in October (before half the company) • Product Manager for Onboarding • Before Twitter: • Worked on and launched Facebook Connect • Product at Zazzle and LinkedIn • Wrote some Windows apps
    4. What is a user?
    5. Someone who Tweets?
    6. Consumer
    7. Consumer Producer
    8. Consumer Producer
    9. Becoming a regular •Do you visit every day or more? •Do you visit on your own? •Is this site/app “top of mind”?
    10. Engagement is not a binary value credit: Marcus Q on Flickr
    11. Have questions about users?
    12. Have questions about users? ASK THEM!
    13. Have questions about users? location U.S. only contact opt-in for email history signed up > 30 and < 60 days ago activity logged in 10+ days of the past 30 missing no logins first 7 days (excluding signup on first day)
    14. Making a ladder of engagement
    15. All possible users Your users
    16. committed casual curious
    17. committed casual curious
    18. magnets, hooks, & glue
    19. How?
    20. × How? Why?
    21. Pay attention outside too
    22. FOLLOW US BY TEXTING 40404 WITH: twitter.com
    23. FOLLOW US BY TEXTING 40404 WITH: twitter.com SevillaTapasSD
    24. committed casual curious
    25. credit: snowpeak on Flickr
    26. There are two types credit: infomatique on Flickr of people in this world: Those who finish what they start @lisarahmat — 1:45am Jan 26th, 2010
    27. Home Profile Find People Settings Help Sign out stoptest7 What’s happening? 140 0 tweets 0 0 0 following followers listed Tweet Twit!Vid n. a simple video sharing option for your tweets. Home Home @stoptest7 What to do now: Direct Messages 0 1. Tell us what you’re doing in the box above Favorites 2. Find some friends and follow what they’re doing 3. Turn on your mobile phone to update your friends on the go Retweets Search Lists Trending: Worldwide Following RSS feed © 2010 Twitter About Us Contact Blog Status Goodies API Business Help Jobs Terms Privacy
    28. I have captured the epitome of despair. @trammell — 3:15pm Oct 26th 2009
    29. Home Profile Find People Settings Help Sign out stoptest7 What’s happening? 140 0 tweets 0 0 0 following followers listed Tweet Twit!Vid n. a simple video sharing option for your tweets. Home Home @stoptest7 What to do now: Direct Messages 0 1. Tell us what you’re doing in the box above Favorites 2. Find some friends and follow what they’re doing 3. Turn on your mobile phone to update your friends on the go Retweets Search Lists Trending: Worldwide Following RSS feed © 2010 Twitter About Us Contact Blog Status Goodies API Business Help Jobs Terms Privacy
    30. Home Profile Find People Settings Help Sign out stoptest7 What’s happening? 140 0 tweets 0 0 0 following followers listed Tweet Twit!Vid n. a simple video sharing option for your tweets. Home Home @stoptest7 What to do now: Direct Messages 0 1. Tell us what you’re doing in the box above Favorites 2. Find some friends and follow what they’re doing 3. Turn on your mobile phone to update your friends on the go Retweets Search Lists Trending: Worldwide Following RSS feed © 2010 Twitter About Us Contact Blog Status Goodies API Business Help Jobs Terms Privacy
    31. Home Profile Find People Settings Help Sign out stoptest7 What’s happening? 140 0 tweets 0 0 0 following followers listed Tweet Twit!Vid n. a simple video sharing option for your tweets. Home Home @stoptest7 What to do now: Direct Messages 0 1. Tell us what you’re doing in the box above Favorites 2. Find some friends and follow what they’re doing 3. Turn on your mobile phone to update your friends on the go Retweets Search Lists Trending: Worldwide Following RSS feed © 2010 Twitter About Us Contact Blog Status Goodies API Business Help Jobs Terms Privacy
    32. Art & Design Music Books News Business Politics Charity Science Entertainment Sports Family Staff Picks Fashion Staff Picks for Haiti Food & Drink Technology Funny Travel Health Twitter
    33. New flow step 1 step 2
    34. New flow with one extra step step 1 step 2 step 3
    35. New flow with one extra step +29% increase in users who completed the flow step 1 step 2 step 3
    36. Your interface tells a story
    37. Mint.com LinkedIn
    38. committed casual curious
    39. Getting your committed users to help
    40. FOLLOW US BY TEXTING 40404 WITH: twitter.com
    41. FOLLOW US BY TEXTING 40404 WITH: twitter.com SevillaTapasSD
    42. New users are 3x more likely to add friends if they are suggested
    43. New users are 3x more likely to add friends if they are suggested Dormant users 4x more likely to re- engage if given social motivation Source: rapleaf.com
    44. “ Good design isn’t about making decisions for your users, it’s about making those decisions irrelevant. @rands — 11:12am Feb 16th 2010 credit: nerovivo on Flickr
    45. Closing Thoughts
    46. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users
    47. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users 2. Never hesitate to ask your users
    48. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users 2. Never hesitate to ask your users 3. Lean on your committed users - they love you already
    49. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users 2. Never hesitate to ask your users 3. Lean on your committed users - they love you already 4. Look to the numbers, but don’t live by them
    50. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users 2. Never hesitate to ask your users 3. Lean on your committed users - they love you already 4. Look to the numbers, but don’t live by them 5. Have fun and make it fun!
    51. Closing Thoughts 1. Measure the right things - regular users 2. Never hesitate to ask your users 3. Lean on your committed users - they love you already 4. Look to the numbers, but don’t live by them 5. Have fun and make it fun! • Hashtag for Questions: #chirponboard

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