We have already mentioned the Hooked Model by Nir Eyal in the article on How gamification drives engagement. This is a model that works on creating habit-forming products or services with a goal of high-frequency engagement. Nir Eyal spent years in the video gaming and advertising industries, where he learned the ins and outs of behavioral psychology and motivation. Nir realized one of the biggest challenges in app development is continuous engagement. For most apps engagement is a direct indicator of revenue as the time users spend on the platform directly impacts the bottom line. Nir studied how some of the worlds biggest apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube managed to get their users so engaged.
He later went on to write a book on the Hooked model. A four step process in which you trigger, reward and engage users to participate in certain behaviors. The hook is meant to build habit-forming products which we often use without conscious thought such as checking messages or emails. Every time a user goes through one of these loops, personal investment increases as well as engagement with the platform.
Gamification is used to attract new potential customers and retain existing customers by keeping them actively engaged. Autodesk tested this out for themselves by creating a storyline and implementing a variable reward system and in-game benefits to incentivize the users. Using gamification in customer engagement strategies resulted in a 54% increase in trial usage and a 15% increase in buy clicks.
The trigger is what generates the desired behavior of your target group. In order for it to work you need both an intrinsic and extrinsic trigger. For example when you see a Facebook notification you are looking at an external trigger. This is a facilitating mechanic that moves the process forward. The urge to click on it and start scrolling your feed is the internal trigger. There are lots of motivational triggers which work on internal needs, drives and incentives.
In order for a desired action to be carried out, a few things need to be in order. According to B.J. Fogg, a behavior scientist at Stanford University, a user should have sufficient motivation, the ability to execute the action and a trigger. On Facebook that can be as simple as liking your friend’s post or even sharing your own thoughts.
While most companies today are already using some form of reward systems in both customer and employee engagement strategies, not a lot of companies are adding the element of uncertainty and therefore curiosity to it. Recent study in neuroscience found that making rewards variable skyrockets our dopamine and supercharges attention stating that it’s not about pleasure from a reward but the anticipation of pleasure. We divide variable rewards in 3 categories:
Social animals as we are we clearly enjoy other people’s activity online. It allows us to fulfil our social needs and is fueled by our drive to feel connected with other people such as when people like your post and give you recognition.
When we’re on the infinite scroll we’re unconsciously looking for informational rewards. This could be something like a news article or a funny meme which answers our need for unpredictability also referred to as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).
This leans heavily to the Self Determination Theory and our will to gain mastery and control. On Facebook that could be as simple as reading all unread messages or going through all your notifications.
Lastly there is also the investment. To create habits within your app, truly engaged users are a must. Therefore you need to give users the possibility of contributing to the platform. On Facebook you can see the investment as liking or commenting on a post or even contributing your own content. The more users invest into your app, the more prone they are to keep coming back.