Building virality into your Facebook app mechanics [MIT study]

Posted on: July 6, 2011

This MIT study by Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker shows that to acquire Facebook likes fastest – brands should stick to ‘passive’ (post to wall) messages being generated by their apps, but to acquire a loyal customer base, a combination of passive and active (send a direct message to my friend) functionality works best:

In the “passive” broadcast version, the app would automatically post to a user’s newsfeed as they interacted with the product, such as declaring their favorite movie or writing a scathing movie review. In this version, new user adoption jumped 246%, compared to a version in which broadcast messaging was disabled.

For the “active-personalized” version, which combined passive broadcasts with a prompt to send personalized direct messages to friends (such as, “Hey! check out my new favorite app”), overall adoption was 344% higher (or a 98% bump over the broadcast version)…

Aral also tells Fast Company that passive messages are the quickist way to drive adoption (3.17 days to first adoption, compared to 4.77 days for personalized messages), but users will be 7% less active with the product. “Passive features are better for spreading a product widely and for quick adoption. Active features, on the other hand, are better for building a loyal customer base and make a product stickier”

Greg Ferenstein


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