How We Hook You

Written by Arianna Rehak on October 6, 2016

Have you ever put any thought into the products that have now become habits for you? Think Twitter, Facebook, and even email.

There was a point in time when you didn’t know they existed, and now you use them every day. How did they make it into your life, and why weren’t they abandoned at some point?

Admittedly, until reading Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, I had never really thought about the philosophy of habits before. Now, I can’t help but analyze everything around me for their propensity to make it into my daily routine.

In the book, Nir Eyal argues that in order to make a product habit-forming, it must take you through the following steps:

  1. Trigger: catalyst of a behavior
  2. Action: taken in anticipation of a reward
  3. Variable reward: receiving gratification
  4. Investment: effort put into maintenance

Is this feeling a little abstract? Let’s take an example that I am now very well acquainted with: the community.

Let’s assume that you have just made an account with us. You’ve browsed around the site and joined some groups. Maybe you’ve even commented in a couple conversations.You look at the time and realize that you need to move onto the next thing, and the tab is unceremoniously closed. How can we promote your engagement to a point where it becomes your natural inclination every day to sign into our community platform and see the conversations that are occurring? Essentially, how do we make ourselves a habit for you?

Trigger: we send digests to your inbox that show little snippets of conversations, in the hopes that you will see something intriguing and want to read more, or better yet, jump into the conversation yourself!

Action: the initial action would be to sign in. The level of engagement from this point will vary greatly - from browsing, to liking, to contributing, to creating.

Variable Reward: this depends on engagement level. A reward may be learning something new from an article posted. Perhaps it is the validation of the “likes” you receive from something you post. The point is that if we cannot give you value, you will not return.

Investment: If you decide to join, it means taking the time to create a profile. If you comment or like anything, it also means nailing a spot on the leaderboard, with points accumulating each time.

So here lies the question: how is this lesson on creating habits relevant to you and your association?

Building engagement is a major topic of conversation in the space because, quite simply, we are struggling with it. Nir Eyal’s hook model offers a new approach to looking at engagement, and can be applied when designing new member benefits (or rethinking existing ones!)

We got the chance to chat with Nir about how his ideas can be applied specifically to associations. Click below to listen to the interview: