Web App Masters: A Simple Ladder of Engagement

by Luke Wroblewski March 24, 2010

At the Web App Masters Tour in San Diego, CA Mark Trammell outlined Twitter’s approach to helping new and one-time users become loyal repeaters by discussing the company’s focus on A Simple Ladder of Engagement.

  • Tweetable moments: events in life worth sharing with others. It’s a skill to find the right thing to say and the right time to say it. These positive moments are incredibly addictive to those that have them because they reinforced by reactions from others.
  • How do you take a novice and teach them these skills?
  • As we look at the Web applications we build, we are deluged with numbers. What numbers should we measure? This is perhaps the most important question we ask ourselves. Thing like page views don’t help much.
  • Heavy users of Web application don’t get that way over night. What kinds of things do they do over time that we should pay attention to?
  • When you watch people who are new to Web applications they are not clearly producers or consumers. Need to understand how people’s use changes over time. Need to ensure people become good consumers first, then good producers second.
  • It used to be that when you came to Twitter, you got an open text box that says “what do you want to do?”. Not the best experience.
  • The engagement ladder: curious, casual, committed –this is Twitter’s framework for thinking about how new Twitter users engage with the service.
  • Joining Twitter now is kind of like starting to watch Lost (TV show) without being there from episode one. Things like following are fairly well understood but things like “@ replies” are not.
  • Magnets: what are the things that pull people into your Web app?
  • Hooks: what are the things that keep people there while you are waiting for the glue to settle?
  • Glue: locks people into a Web application.
  • The things that brought people to Twitter are different than the things that keep them there.
  • Twitter did research by talking to people who had no login in the first 7 days, then logged in 10+ days of the past 30. These are people who came, left, and then came back. They are a great source of reasons why people leave but return.
  • Celebrities were a driver of things that brought people to Twitter but did not keep them there. What kept them there were things they were passionate about - hobbies, conversations with experts.
  • Express the value of your application before the user has to give you anything.
  • Delight your users and they'll bring you more users.
  • Focus on the why not the how. When we get people into our Web applications, we often tell them how to do stuff. But the goal is to get them to be delighted. Need to create something that makes people driven to get through the hurdles you have to put in front of them (registration, etc.).
  • In the old Twitter design, it was nice to see what people were talking about but it didn’t tell you what Twitter is.
  • They key to getting people to what they are passionate about is asking them. The new Twitter sign up process supports this when it surfaces a set of topics people may be interested in. The most popular topics are music, entertainment, fashion, and art & design.
  • Twitter made the first thing people see after creating an account a list of things they might care about. Trying to bridge the gap between why they came and why they left.
  • Before people were seeing things that were random (most popular), now the first thing they do is curate what they care about. Step two is find your friends (through email connections). Step three is find others.
  • The new process is now three steps and more time consuming. But it has a 29% increase in completions and the people who complete the flow are much more engaged.
  • Martha Stewart now gets 503 new followers a day, she used to get 2,998 in the old sign-up flow based on popular users. But they are higher quality followers.
  • Felicia Day now loses 50 followers a day, whereas before gained 2,874 followers per day. She is still included in new interests-based sign-up flow.
  • Ben Folds was not in suggested users before but now gets 462 new followers a day. Used to get 88 a day before.
  • Erik Spierkermann now gets 330 new followers a day, used to get 13.
  • There are now 50,000 applications in the Twitter ecosystem. This allows people to tweet from anywhere and capture niche interests.
  • +375% logins (days/month), +867% tweets (avg/month) –for people who are using 3rd party applications
  • Twitter released stickers that allowed people to follow local business by using a text message (based on twitter ID).
  • Facebook uses people who are engaged to get other people more engaged. Users are 4x more likely to re-engage is given social motivation.
  • So much of what happens on Twitter came out of usage (like @ mentions, # tags, re-tweets, and lists). Twitter saw these patterns and built features to support them.
  • Twitters most engaged users follow buckets of interests: local & frequented businesses, hobbies & interest areas, friends, colleagues & contacts, news & information sources, well-known celebrities & experts.
  • “What’s happening?” is a much better descriptor of what people are sharing on Twitter than “What are you doing?”
  • Make value apparent to people by both adding and removing features.
  • Take people who are curious about an idea turn them into casual users (by giving them control of their own experience), then turn them into committed users by giving them tools to evangelize and use your product.