The benefits of “social”

If you work on a consumer-facing app, you may have had a thought like “We should make it more social.” But then you probably didn’t do anything about it, because making successful social features is hard.

If you want to really think it through, the first step is to get clear on what benefits you expect to get from making your app more social. You should consider benefits to the business, and benefits to the user — and you must keep these separate.

Benefits to the business

What benefits might your business get if you make your product more social? What are you after?

Possible benefits of a more social product:

  • More viral acquisition
  • More engagement
  • Better retention
  • Better reactivation
  • Better defensibility
  • Better monetization

You might expect to see benefits in a number of these categories. But you really should be able to pick just one as your clear primary target. That will allow you to evaluate possible solutions for expected value.

Benefits to the user

The next category of value that you have to consider, and this one is considerably more difficult, is user value. Don’t be like Google with Google+, which famously solved a company problem but not a user problem.

What problem, need, desire do your users have that would be solved if your product was more social? Would this really be a good solution? Would it really be valuable for them?

Examples:

  • Make new relationships
  • Sustain or strengthen existing relationships
  • Be challenged
  • Understand myself
  • Have fun
  • Feel like I have high status
  • Get help that I need

Before you get too excited about making your app “social”, find out if there’s some solution you can envision which would score highly on both business value and user value.

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