Here’s How Mark Zuckerberg Got 1.23 Billion People Hooked on Facebook on a Daily Basis

1.23 Billion Daily Active Users! Yep, that’s one-seventh of the entire world’s population. That’s the number people on Facebook everyday, including you and me.

But why do we do it? How did Zuckerberg end up creating something so captivating? Is it out of habit that we check Facebook? How did he firmly embed these habits onto a platform?

Can we also create products that will be used out of habit? Let’s take a closer look at his well-oiled machine.

Why are we hooked?

When do we use Facebook? Mostly when we are bored, or to take a break from a mundane job, or simply put, when there’s nothing else to do. But why Facebook?

Facebook is built in such a way that it is so easy to access, update a status, check what’s happening with your friends or watch a video, etc. (ease of use). There’s so much that you can do! But why? What motivates us to do all these things? We do it simply to stimulate our emotional triggers. We are looking to get over our boredom, making it a habit to check Facebook every time we are bored. This results in us looking for more interesting things to engage with, resulting in an internal trigger that makes us check Facebook the next time we are bored.

But wait, internal triggers are not the only reason we check Facebook. I often spend a considerable amount of time checking my notifications even when I am not bored at all, just out of curiosity and to get the notifications cleared. These external triggers come in all sorts and forms, from push notifications to emails.

Products can be designed in a way that it becomes habitual to use them. Nir Eyal extensively talks about how to build habit-forming products. Let’s take a look at his ‘hook’ framework given below.

Let’s use this framework to better understand the above-mentioned Facebook scenario. Our internal trigger [Box 1] is boredom, external triggers are the notifications we receive that prompt us to take action. An action [Box 2] can be a simple thing such as scrolling. We keep scrolling looking for something that will emotionally stimulate us. These emotional stimuli are the reward [Box 3] we get. The product encourages us to ‘react (like)’ to things that stimulate you. Which is the investment [Box 4] that will make way for another trigger, leaving us on an endless loop.

“A behavior that occurs with enough frequency and perceived utility enters the Habit Zone, helping to make it a default behavior ~ Nir Eyal”

Facebook understood the value of habit-forming products at a very early stage, and embedded that aspect in its core product functionalities.

Why build habits into a product?

If a product is being used by habit, that means it ensures a very high level of engagement that will dramatically increase retention rates.

Products used out of habit:

● Increases Customer Life Time Value à Increases Valuation of the Company (Snapchat at $22 BILLION!)

● Pricing Flexibility à Increases Revenue & Profits

● Upsell Opportunities à Increases Revenue & Profits

● Creates Brand Evangelists à Savings on Your Promotions Budget

● Establishes a Competitive Edge à Minimizes threat of losing customers to competitors (Yippee!)

Nir Eyal has a great workbook that will help you immensely to build a habit-forming product. The model is simple, but embedding this into a product? Not so much.

How did Zuckerberg do it? You guessed it right. Experimentation. The entire Facebook team was aligned to facilitate high tempo experimentation. Zuckerberg and his team understood that growth was a company-wide initiative, and it cannot be assigned to a single team. Zuckerberg made sure that experimentation is facilitated from the top down, and right across the company to this day.

“The odds are good that everyone on Facebook has been, at some time, part of a test.” ~ Andrew Bosworth, VP Engineering, Facebook

Let’s take a look at how we can build a habit-making product with the help of experiments.

How Zuckerberg got us hooked

Step 1- Build a Measurement Framework

Clearly understand what matters to you and define how it can be measured. Start off with your business objectives at a very high level, and define goals for each objective. Then, define the KPI’s under each goal.

Facebook’s key objective at its initial stage was to increase engagement. Their goalwas to improve time on site per user. Some of the KPI’s were Activity per session, Sessions per hour/day, Daily active users, and Average lifetime, etc..

Avinash Kaushik has a brilliant article on how to create a measurement framework. Click here to learn from the guru himself. (If you are not already following him, you certainly should. Kaushik rocks \m/).

Once you are done with the framework look at how you can implement analytics that will collect necessary metrics to represent your KPI’s.

Step 2 — Ideate

Get lots and lots of ideas from various teams, from HR to Engineering, from leadership to operations, encourage new thinking. But the catch here is to keep in mind what your key business objectives are. Come up with ideas that would impact the KPI’s of your set objectives. This aligns your company to the set objective and drives you towards growth.

Build a hypothesis and test these ideas.

“You can learn what matters through testing and research. But testing without research will result in tons of wasted tests.” ~ Peep Laja

If you are confused about where to get started, we use the below framework to bucket our test ideas. Given below are 3 kinds of the test according to Jakob Nielsen from the Nielsen Norman Group. Click here to view the original article.

Innovative testing is when we create tests that combine all the above-mentioned buckets. These tests are ideal if you are not seeing significant outcomes from iterative testing (A/B tests), and also if your site has very low traffic. However, innovative testing can have a negative impact since there are multiple changes that take place at once, and it might be very difficult to identify what change really impacted the outcomes.

An insightful case of how an innovative test made a negative impact on Facebook can be found here.

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ReapDigital Learnings

A leading apparel brand that focuses on women’s clothing opened up an online store. With an island wide delivery option we had a large number of first time online buyers. Given below is how we came up with ideas to test and the results after implementation.

1. Analytics Insights (Google Analytics, Heatmaps, CRM data, etc.)

We noticed that those who have viewed the size guide tend to convert more and wanted to test the impact on conversion rates if we give prominence to the size guide button.

We were able to see a 26% increase in conversion rates.

2. Psychological Theories and External Research

Facebook mastered the news feed and it’s being adopted by all kinds of websites due to its cognitive fluency. We are familiar with the feed. Taking the same theory we wanted to test out features and design elements of popular sites such as Facebook and to see if we can make the site more familiar and more engaging.

The click through rate of products increased by 31% after implementation

3. Design Theories and Usability testing

We noticed that people misunderstood the call to action in the shopping cart due to its high dropout rates. We ran a usability test taking a small sample segment and understood that our audience didn’t understand the call to action given. We got feedback on the kind of call to action to be used from the user group, tested it out and implemented the same.

We were able to see a 22% increase in conversion rates.

Growth Hacking Tactic

Dropbox gave $30 dollars on craigslist for people to use Dropbox, and to record how they are using it, to feedback from the users. This gave a very high visibility to the Dropbox team as to understand what steps those who love Dropbox take, and what is being misunderstood by those are not very happy with the product. They used these usability tests to get ideas and create a hypothesis for testing.

4. Data Science and Automation

We wanted to test a mechanism to identify the conversion probability and to remarket to those that have a high probability for conversions, expecting a drop in the cost per acquisition.

We were able to see an epic 50% drop in cost per acquisition. (Data driven marketing rules!)

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Step 3 — Prioritize

Where do you want to take your product? What is your key objective? Take a look at your measurement framework. This should answer the question. But how we do we actually choose what to prioritize?

Given below is the framework put forward by the CRO team at hotwire that we use often to prioritize our tests.

When determining value, we could look at our measurement framework again and see if the test has a strategic fit (aligned with strategy), has a high impact on KPI’s and the reach of the impact (all visitors/segments). In terms of effort, we can easily look at the effort to do creatives, development, and coordination.

Hotwire also has a great point system that makes it easy to prioritize tests. Click here to read the full article.

Step 4 — Test

Make sure that all your analytics are in place and that you are closely measuring all the necessary success metrics. Hopefully, you have the measurement framework with past data in relevant reports to benchmark against the previous performance, and understand the impact.

“Velocity is the key when it comes to execution, it is not about going through the process it’s about how fast we can move through the process effectively. Wins comes in different shapes and sizes and they are compound in nature, you can stack these wins on top of each other and lead to more growth.” ~ Morgan Brown

Step 5 — Analyze

Once you understand what moves the needle in your business, make sure these learning and results are recorded in an easily accessible manner. Always segment your users by source, behavior and outcome to get a better understanding of where the test has impacted. We maintain an in-house library of tests that we have run, along with the lessons we have learnt. Every business is different and just testing things that have worked for someone else might not work for you. However, if you do not create a log of your tests you might duplicate tests or might find it difficult to move forward.

Step 6 — Implement

Iterative test learnings can be rolled out right away since the risk is significantly lower than that of Innovative test which changes multiple things at a time.

How can you implement Innovative test learnings?

Remember the hook model? If you can identify your hooked customers, (looking at retention and engagement), you could easily show the new changes to this group and see how they respond. This helps you see if the changes you have made impacted your most profitable customers.

Implementing innovative test learnings across each segment will help you to mitigate the risk, and if the change has a negative impact it would make it easier to roll back the implementation.

Building a product that would be used out of habit would be awesome. However, it is essential to understand what creates habits and the best way to go about it is to experiment and test. At a glance it might look like an impossible task to create another habit-forming product just as good as Facebook, but snapchat beat them to it. Just a small thought for inspiration. :)

“Where do we go from here? Left foot, right foot, repeat.” ~ Andrew Bosworth, VP Engineering, Facebook

May the growth be with you!

This article was originally published on Click here to read the article