It’s no easy feat to create a successful social media platform today. However, with the right … [+]
Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash
Nearly every adult has experienced the frustration of trying to plan a get-together with friends, but for one reason or another it just becomes too complicated. From finding the right day and time, to coming up with a fun new activity and agreeing on a convenient location, there’s a lot that goes into even the smallest of organizations.
Recently, I sat down and spoke with Sean Doherty, founder and CEO of Hang, an app that simplifies social event planning, who got fed up with this issue in his own life, and thus, the idea for Hang was born.
Doherty was in the process of developing his new social media platform when he was diagnosed with cancer. This of course complicated the development process, and yet he decided to keep moving forward with the project. Doherty became the first user of his own planning app, as he used it to schedule meetings in between chemotherapy sessions with his partner in the project, Kaitlin Tsai.
Through our conversation, Doherty highlighted many of the most important factors that influence designing a social media platform that’s built to quickly attracts user.
1. Identify An Unmet Need
An unmet need leaves a clear opportunity for entrepreneurs to create a solution to that desire. Doherty noticed a couple of needs that weren’t being met by current social media platforms. The first was that it’s often difficult to schedule casual events with friends.
There are a few options for planning larger events using platforms like Google Calendar and Facebook Events, but where’s the platform for scheduling quick coffee dates and pick-up basketball games with friends?
Doherty noted this problem. He explains, “Plans are social, but calendars are not. Many people feel uncomfortable using calendars for casual social events. There aren’t a lot of options for efficiently planning casual events.”
The second unmet need Doherty noticed was a lack of relatable content on today’s social media channels. He shares, “Many social media platforms have become crowded with influencer-type content that can make it hard for people to see what their friends are really up to. With Hang, we’re trying to create a community where friends can share authentic, non-curated content. This more genuine way to engage with friends is lacking from most social media platforms, which is why it’s one of our key differentiating strategies.”
Finding an unmet need is the first step in developing an app that has the potential to acquire users at a rapid pace. The next crucial step is making sure you’re sufficiently meeting that need for your early users.
2. Design An Intuitive Onboarding Process
Nearly a quarter of users abandon an app after only one use, according to a study done by Localytics. Naturally though, it’s important to retain your new users if you hope to grow at a faster pace, because with social networking apps, your number of active users greatly determines how quickly the app can grow.
The best way to ensure your users will continue to interact with your platform after installation, is to prioritize a well-designed onboarding process. If your users are able to quickly become accustomed to the way the app works and experience an immediate benefit, they’ll be much more likely to stick around.
The key factors in designing a good onboarding experience are simplicity, learnability and efficiency. Simplify your app by eliminating unnecessary features from the main interface and place the most important features in highly visible locations.
Improve the learnability component of your app by offering easy-to-navigate tutorials for new users. And finally, make your app more efficient by minimizing the time it takes for users to complete each task. Optimizing each of these steps will increase your ability to retain new users and ultimately grow your platform.
3. Find The Right Audience
Another essential aspect of quickly acquiring users on a new social media platform is to begin by targeting one specific audience. It’s important for social media platforms to make users feel well-connected. The more users you can quickly acquire within your target audience, the easier it’ll be to grow your platform.
Once you’ve identified an unmet need, you must determine which group of people will most benefit from your solution to that challenge. The characteristics of your target audience will help you determine the best ways to get the word out about your new platform.
You may want to invest in advertisements or major content campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Snapchat to acquire new users. However, the age and other key demographic factors of your target audience will determine which of these platforms you should emphasize. For example, Facebook is used by most age groups, however, Instagram is used at much higher rates among the 18-24 year old demographic when compared to the 30-49 year old age range.
On the other hand, people of all ages use search engines like Google to answer their most pressing questions and find clear solutions to their needs. Therefore, a compelling case can also be made for writing blog posts that are designed to attract users from relevant organic searches.
Either way, you should use this information to determine the best ways to increase awareness of your app where your target audience is spending the most time.
4. Believe In Your Platform
One may have expected Doherty to abandon the idea for Hang while he was going through cancer treatment, but instead he kept working on his app. He didn’t allow obstacles to get in the way of his platform’s launch, because he believed he was chasing a great idea.
Doherty adds, “Working on this app gave me energy. Even when I was in a lot of pain, I could forget about the cancer. The chemo put me into a depression, but it was nice to be able to work through that and take my mind off of things. And the app honestly made planning our work so much easier.”
Fast forward to today and Hang is growing more and more by the day. The fact remains that Doherty wouldn’t have been able to achieve success without working on a project he believed in.
No matter the type of business you’re working on, it’s important to believe in the mission of your product. Obstacles are sure to arise, and you’ll need a deep level of motivation to keep pursuing your goals.