Features to include in your social media app
|Nick Swenson in Marketing & Promotion Monday, February 6, 2017|
You might be thinking: “If I have more features at the outset, the app will appeal to a wider user base and go viral!” While this logic seems sensible on the surface, including a myriad of features such as instant messaging, news feeds, up-voting, down-voting, liking, sharing, commenting, etc. in one app from its inception actually tends to confuse new users and causes them to abandon the app because its primary function doesn’t manifest itself quickly and clearly. We now live in an age of instant gratification - users typically interact with an average of only 7 apps per month. If your user can’t instantly figure out why your app is fun or useful, they will instantly delete it.
My advice is to:
1.) Select a single model or feature
2.) Do it perfectly
3.) Establish a loyal user base
4.) Then add new features (if necessary)
This strategy also mitigates the risk of your investment by reducing upfront design and development costs. Further, once your user base is established, periodically releasing new features will delight and continue to engage your community.
For social media apps, choosing a primary communication model will help define your strategy. There are several models to choose from:
The Original Snapchat Model: Direct Messaging
Snapchat allows users to directly share content (photos, videos, messages) with another user on a person-to-person basis. The idea behind this model is that content is communicated with a small, closed community. There is no social media sharing option and the product did not feature a news feed until a more recent update.
The Original Instagram Model: Chronological Content
Instagram allows users to share content through a chronological news feed, with users seeing the most recent posts towards the top of their feed. The number of likes and comments attributed to the post does not affect the post’s positioning in the feed. One important consideration for this model is that upon launching the app, the smaller number of users may mean that the volume of interesting content to be curated is also limited.
The Reddit Model: Trending Content
Content shared on Reddit can be up or down-voted and is therefore curated by virality across the platform’s crowd-sourced population. The posts that appear at the very top of the page are at the top because of the high amount of interest generated by the community. One important consideration with the Reddit Model is privacy and age appropriateness of the content, as posts that get up-voted receive very wide exposure regardless of the appropriateness of the actual content.
The Facebook Model: A Hybrid
The Facebook Model is essentially a hybrid of the above three models; currently, Facebook’s platform includes features like instant messaging, sharing, a news feed and virality algorithms, as well as liking and commenting. The difficulty with this model is that a period of trial and error and constant updating are necessary - meaning implementation requires lots of engineering resources, and a corresponding budget to accommodate.
When selecting a feature set or communication model for your social media app, it is very important to think about which would be most appropriate for your target audience and content. Think about how your app can grow over time, and ways that you can strategically release new features to continually engage with your community as the user base grows.
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