We need an attention retention strategy. Not only because it sounds cool, but because it’s what will separate the most successful Facebook applications from the rest.
The dilemma is already occurring – it’s been about a month since the F8 platform launched, and users are already starting to hear the noise from the 75,000+ developers battling for their attention. At some point, users will have to decide which applications to keep, and which ones to ditch. Every day we see friends removing applications. Clearly there’s an ‘experimental period’ during which users test an app. If it doesn’t measure up, it goes. So how do we stay on that profile page, and how do we keep the users coming back? There are a few tactics we’ve noticed so far.
First are the ‘gaming apps’. These applications require you to take actions to ‘level up’ within the app. This accomplishes two things: It serves as a status marker (e.g. “what level are you? How many (insert virtual objects) do you have?”). It also attaches an iterative progression to the app, leading users to become invested in their ‘level’- and raising the perceived changing costs. This is an interesting technique, but only the most creative apps will sustain long-term growth. How long can ‘leveling up’ stay interesting? These apps need to offer more to measure up.
Next are the profile enhancers. Profile enhancers either replace existing profile features, or enhance them. The question here becomes: how do you etch out a piece of real-estate on the profile, and what do you do from there? Can a profile enhancer be ported out of Facebook and used for something else? Time will tell.
Finally, we’ve seen developers who build full-fledged independent sites within the Facebook framework. This is an interesting strategy, and the most infant in relation to the others – largely due to the fact that it’s more difficult to get rapid user adoption with involved applications. The attention meter here is measured by pure user experience. Is the app functional? Is it entertaining? The biggest question for these apps is really a conceptional one: “Is Facebook just a place where users interact with friends, or is it becoming the entire internet experience for some users (or both)?
Not all apps fit into one of these three categories. Some fit into more than one, or bend the boundaries of the descriptions we’ve provided. Which clan are we? What other tactics are there? Who has the next brilliant attention retention strategy?
We have some cool ideas. We’d love to hear yours.