Here’s the Gist:
- People have limited bandwidth when it comes to mobile app usage and habits matter for long-term engagement.
- Usage frequency helps explain whether a company is successfully creating user habits.
- Companies able to create more frequent usage habits enjoy higher user satisfaction as measured by Net Promoter Scores.
In the company’s first quarter earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg told Wall Street investors, “almost 63% of people who use Facebook in a month, will use it in a given day.” He continued, “another stat that I think is actually quite interesting is we track how many people use Facebook not just every day … but what percent of people used it 6 days out of 7 days of the week. And that number, for the first time in the last quarter, passed 50%. So, that’s pretty crazy, if you think about it … more than 50% of people have used it 6 days out of 7 days of the week, almost every single day of a week.”
What Zuck is calling attention to is the fact that not only are a lot of users visiting Facebook on any given day, but more importantly, over half of them use Facebook almost every day. Mark’s right, that is “pretty crazy” indeed.
There’s an adage in the television industry that TV viewers have the mental bandwidth for just 12 to 15 channels. After that short list, few other channels matter to most viewers. The same can be said of mobile apps.
For most of us, there are the frequently used apps on our home screens and then there are all the rest on the second, third, fourth screens. As Nir has written previously, “In a world of ever-increasing distractions, habits matter.”
Given consumers limited bandwidth and the challenges of changing user behavior, habits are the key to delivering long-term engagement.
On to the fun stuff …
Let’s take a look at a few of the largest mobile apps — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. The data below is from paid surveys conducted using Google Consumer Surveys. In order to minimize the noise in the data, only respondents considered to be regular users were included, which in this case meant using it at least twice per week.
For the purposes of this study, the Net Promoter Score is used as a proxy for user satisfaction and the standard NPS question, “How likely are you to recommend [app name] to a friend?” was asked. The survey was limited to American adults over 18 years of age and 8,000 responses were collected.
Frequency of Weekly Use
- Facebook and Instagram are the clear winners when it comes to daily usage.
- Twitter and Snapchat are clearly in the daily mix but are behind by a reasonable margin.
- WhatsApp is not quite a mainstream daily habit yet. However, it isn’t far off with 31% of respondents using the app often and perhaps on their way to using it daily , thereby joining the two other Facebook apps atop the leaderboard.
To help qualify the data above, if the once per week users were included, the percentage of users using Facebook at least 6-7 days a week would have been 48% — roughly in-line with the global number Zuck referred to in his investor call.
Net Promoter Score by Frequency of Use
You can see by the chart above that there is a clear relationship between app usage and NPS scores. The more days per week the app is used, the higher the NPS of each app across the board.
For those keeping score, the average NPS for each app is: Instagram at 22, WhatsApp at 16, Snapchat at 12, Twitter at -24, and Facebook at -42.
Why do Twitter and Facebook have negative Net Promoter Scores? One reason may be that people are less likely to recommend more established apps since they know their friends already use Twitter and Facebook. Nonetheless, even for these two apps, the more days per week someone uses them, the more likely they are to say they would recommend it.
Just how big is the benefit from a daily habit? From the chart below, you can see a change in usage from occasional (2-3 days per week) to frequent (4-5 days per week) has less of an affect on NPS than the change from frequent (4-5 days per week) to daily (6-7 days per week). There is a disproportionate return on NPS when usage become someone’s daily habit. The one exception here is WhatsApp.
Why might the daily habit not boost NPS for WhatsApp? Well, if your core capability is delivering images and video as entertainment, as is the case on Snapchat and Instagram, perhaps giving a daily fix is very important. However, if WhatsApp is used primarily as an SMS replacement, users may not need the app to entertain them as much as to connect them to others. WhatsApp is arguably less emotionally impactful and serves more as a communication utility than a daily routine.
The Value of Habit
When considering how important viral and word-of-mouth growth can be to helping companies dominate a market, understanding which users are most likely to recommend the product to others becomes a strategic asset. By recognizing the value of user habits, companies can leverage the loyalty of their happiest customers.
To put a value on habits, Nuzzel CEO Jonathan Abrams, pointed out recently, “We asked investors … how many other apps or services they used several times per week, that were not yet worth at least $1 Billion, and the answer was always a very short list.”
Top Consumer Psychology Articles
- The New Norms of Business: Interview with Nathalie Nahai
- Can We Regulate Social Networks To Curb Addiction—Without Making Them Suck?
- So, You Want To Become a Great Product Manager? [Q&A with Jackie Bavaro]
- Will Clubhouse be a Habit or Has-Been?
- The One Fitness App That Hooked Me For Good
- Here’s How Fortnite ‘Hooked’ Millions
- How Apps Can Shape Your Future Self
- How Netflix’s Customer Obsession Created a Customer Obsession
- Want to Design User Behavior? Pass the ‘Regret Test’ First
- How to Trigger Product Usage that Sticks
- How to Get People to Help Each Other, Online and Off
- Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You
- How to Use Psychology to Make Persuasive Video
- How to Use Personality Science to Drive Online Conversions
- The Unbelievable Future of Habit-Forming Technology
- The Secret Marketing Power of Evolutionary Psychology
- Don’t Ask People What They Want, Watch What They Do
- How Cognitive Biases Can Help (and Hurt) Your Business
- What Most People Don’t Know About Behavioral Design
- How to Start a Career in Behavioral Design
- Your World is Full of Placebo Buttons (and That’s a Good Thing)
- How to Build Technology that Feels Like a Friend
- 3 Pillars of the Most Successful Tech Products
- Here’s How to Ethically Manipulate Other People
- How Two Companies Hooked Customers On Products They Rarely Use
- How to Hook Users in 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing
- Die Dashboards, Die! Why Conversations Will Reinvent Software
- The Secret to Sending Emails and Notifications That Work
- How to Win Your Competition’s Customers
- Hooked for Good: How Habit-Forming Products Improve Lives
- Good Products Start With Good Questions
- Human + A.I. = Your Digital Future
- Why ‘Assistant-As-App’ Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend
- People Don’t Want Something Truly New, They Want the Familiar Done Differently.
- 4 Ways to Win Your Competitor’s Customer Habits (Slides)
- Here’s Why You’ll Hate the Apple Watch (and the Important Business Lesson You Need to Know)
- The Secret Psychology of Snapchat
- The Psychology of Notifications: How to Send Triggers that Work
- How Technology Tricks You Into Tipping More
- Building Community Starts with Understanding People
- When Persuasion Becomes Deception
- Mastering Pricing Principles
- A Handy Behavioral Design Toolkit
- Onboarding Matters – Getting Users Engaged in your Product
- The Limits of Loyalty: When Habits Change, You’re Toast
- Dual Process Theory: Is Your Product the Elephant or the Rider?
- 4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition’s Customers
- Web Psychology – The Science of Online Persuasion
- Developing User Empathy with Design Sprints
- The Real Reason “Stupid” Startups Raise So Much Money
- Understanding the Psychology Behind Game Design
- The Psychology Behind Why We Can’t Stop Messaging
- How to Do Effective User Research
- Context Driven Design (The “Context Effect”)
- The Psychology of a Billion-Dollar Enterprise App: Why is Slack so Habit-Forming?
- Writing Copy for Your Reader’s Brain
- Designing Habit-Forming Products
- Framing Reward is as Important as Reward Itself
- Games, Play, and Motivation
- How Scarcity & Impatience Drive Irrational User Behavior
- Should You Listen To Your Users or Your Data?
- Emotional Engagement – Designing with the Heart in Mind
- A Free Course on User Behavior
- It’s Not All Fun And Games: The Pros and Cons of Gamification at Work
- Product Psychology: The 3 Things Everyone Should Know About
- Getting Traction: How to Hook New Users
- Designing for Behavior Change Book Review
- The Sneaky Trick Behind the Explosive Growth of the Kardashian Game
- How Successful Companies Design for Users’ Multi-Device Lives
- The Link Between Habits and User Satisfaction
- What Triggers The Best Word of Mouth Marketing?
- What Tech Companies Can Learn from Rehab
- The Secrets of Addictive Online Auctions
- Teach or Hook? What’s the Real Goal of Online Education?
- Using Mind Control to Raise Startup Cash
- How To Build Habits In A Multi-Device World
- How To Cope with Your Insane Jealousy Of The WhatsApp Deal
- Why Do Fads Fade? The Inevitable Death Of Flappy Bird
- You’d Be Surprised By What Really Motivates Users
- Nostalgia: A Product Designer’s Secret Weapon
- How You Can Help Users Change Habits
- Is “Lean Startup” Right for Your Idea?
- Hunting for Habits: Keying in on smart design to make a product irresistible
- Are Companies Too Obsessed With Growth? How to Measure Habits
- Refresh: The App a Secret Agent Would Love
- Angel or Devil: Who’s Really Investing In Your Start-Up?
- In 10 Years, We Won’t Use Personal Technology
- 4 Simple Things I Did to Control My Bad Tech Habits
- “Yes, And”: The Two Words that Created a #1 App
- From Laid to Paid: How Tinder Set Fire to Online Dating
- What if In-App Purchases Came to Real Life?
- Hooking Users One Snapchat at a Time
- How To Save Your Startup From The “Spotlight Effect”
- Bible App: Getting 100 Million Downloads is More Psychology Than Miracles
- How to Boost Desire Using the Psychology of Scarcity
- Marketplaces & The Curse of the Network Effect
- Today’s Behaviors, Tomorrow’s Startups
- Venture Capital and The Superstitious Investor
- The Future is Driven by Interface Changes
- Why Business is Addicted to Habits
- Viral Loops Or Viral ‘Oops’?
- Making a Marketplace
- What Killed Turntable.fm?
- What You Don’t Know About Human Intuition Can Hurt You
- Designing to Reward our Tribal Sides
- New Video – “Hooked: Building Habit-Forming Products”
- How Technology is Like Bug Sex
- Ways To Get People To Do Things They Don’t Want To Do
- The Network Effect Isn’t Good Enough
- Mass Persuasion, One User At A Time
- How Investment Drives Engagement (Slides)
- Getting Your Product Into the Habit Zone
- Where Have The Users Gone?
- Infinite Scroll: The Web’s Slot Machine
- Designing User Habits Video
- Psychology of Sports: How Sports Infect Your Brain
- This is Your Brain On Boarding: How to Turn Visitors Into Users
- User Investment: Make Your Users Do the Work
- Behavior by Design Video
- When Designing for Good Is Bad
- Stop Building Apps, Start Building User Behaviors
- The Next Secrets of the Internet
- User Growth and Engagement: A Hacker Metric
- Spotting the Next Facebook: Why Emotions are Big Business
- The Billion Dollar Mind Trick: An Intro to Triggers
- Why Everyone Hates I.T. People
- Hooking Users In 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing
- Abolish The Reference Check
- Variable Rewards: Want To Hook Users? Drive Them Crazy
- How to Design Behavior (The Behavior Change Matrix)
- How To Design For “Normals”
- The Hook Model: How to Manufacture Desire in 4 Steps
- User Habits: Why Startups Must Be Behavior Experts
- What Is, and Is Not, Your Product’s Job
- Pinterest’s Obvious Secret
- Personalized eCommerce Is Already Here, You Just Don’t Recognize It
- Where is the Web Going?
- The Developer Divide: When Great Companies Can’t Hire
- Being a Quitter Makes You a Good Entrepreneur
- Behavior by Design
- Why You Should Run Your Business Barefoot
- Are you a Startup Star, Wacko, or Wannabe?