3 things to try if your product isn’t good enough
What’s that? Your shit isn’t working?
1) Adding points and badges
2) Paying people to use it
3) Embedding ’viral’ loops
Most of the time these techniques are used, it’s as surface level bullshit - compensating for a weak product that fails to provide enough core value to a user.
They’re used as product steroids.
Now I don’t mean to trash the core approaches, as each of these is rooted in something fundamental and valid.
1) Game design is an art. Baking appropriate game techniques into the core of a product can work well. For example, gradual user onboarding methods draw from first level game approaches, showing new users functionality by having them do it.
2) Incentives can be powerful drivers. But intrinsic drivers beat extrinsic motivators, and are more aligned with core product value. And straight up bribing people to do actions they wouldn’t ordinarily do is weak.
3) Viral loops are great, when they are aligned with the product, don’t deceive the user, and provide real value. Actually, let’s call them engagement loops, a better frame. Help project my identity? Great. Spam friends? Nope. Pinterest is growing exponentially because it is valuable and addictive to users, not because of spammy invite flows. Their flows are true to the core value.
The problem is that too often, when faced with the reality that a product just doesn’t provide enough core value, the reaction is to gamify, incent or add virality at a surface level.
Thankfully, most of those products fail quickly. It’s the products of true value, developed by real craftspeople, that thrive and improve our lives for years.