WhatsApp Status — The Hook Model

A must read Product Management book currently in Silicon Valley is ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal, it’s a fascinating take on how tech gaints are building products that can alter user behaviours and gradually mold them into new habits, driving more engagement and as a result making them more Hooked to the product.

This articles helps to uncover how Whatsapp statuses — a new recently launched feature for the app employs this model and has been a great hit among it’s users.

For people who are not aware of the hook model here’s a brief overview. It consists of four stages

  1. Trigger — a internal or external push that drives users towards the product.
  2. Action — after phase 1, user performs some action to use the product.
  3. Variable Reward- this is what gets user keep coming back to the product. The novelty of finding something new. Users usually fall in love with the unpredictability. For example, Facebook’s newsfeed which is always filled with new stories catered to your interest.
  4. Investment- At this stage, user take certain action on the product which makes him more attached to the product, like creating a playlist on a song app.
Hook Model

Now what makes Whatsapp stand out is the fact that the trigger was always there, the itch of seeing a text of an old friend is what drives us to keep going back to the app. But what Whatsapp used to lack is a variable reward if user has no unread messages.

Now, for Whatsapp the action has always been pretty neat, you just need a single tap to start using the app which is what users are fond of -The Simplicity.

Now comes the reward phase and this is the part where Whatsapp statuses add real value and drive Whatsapp’s engagement.

The variable reward incase of Whatsapp before statuses was people launching the app and discovering messages from any of there friends but the incentives was lesser since almost everyone has Whatsapp notifications on and thats the more probable way through which you launch the app. There was nothing new to discover if you had no new notification or unread messages.

But the launch of ephemeral statuses changed this. Now when people are bored and they seek something novel, Whatsapp had something to offer. It was opening the app and discovering that your friends might be sharing what they are upto. It became one of the most convenient discovery medium since users already preferred Whatsapp to reach out to there friends via chat.

Having 250 mn daily active users is a clear testimony of success of Whatsapp statuses even though the feature is pushed on to second tab unlike in Instagram.

It is righteous to accept that the model that Nil Eyal developed works and the success of Whatsapp statuses has been the most recent evidence of the same. If we look out for the signs we can see this happening across all of our apps and the technology we touch each day. Each one competing with other for our attention and getting us ‘HOOKED’.