Hooked summary


Rating: 9/10

Author: Nir Eyal
Read The Original

The Book in 3 sentences

  • The Hooked Model consists of a cycle of the trigger, action, variable reward & investment.
  • Companies fail because they ask users to learn new unfamiliar actions instead of making old routines easier
  • Identify habitual users, codify the path, and then modify the product to get more users to take this path

  • My Thoughts

    This was my second time reading Hooked, and although it's been almost 8 years since this book has been published, the core concepts have stood the test of time. I'm obsessed with understanding what motivates people and designing systems that really stick. This book paints broad brush strokes on how apps like Pinterest & Facebook get users hooked. Eyal does a great job creating a framework that's easy to understand, but sometimes wished he would dig a little deeper in some parts of the book.

    Hacking Growth Summary

    1. The Habit Zone

    • Like flossing, frequent engagement with a product --especially over a short period of time -- increases the likelihood of forming new routines.
    • Every time you do something that neural pathway gets stronger, one piece of yarn isn't strong, but continue to layer hundreds on and it becomes thick rope that's hard to break.
    • Consumers preference for an online retailer increases when they are offered competitive price information. -> Building trust.
    • A habit is when not doing an action causes a bit of discomfort
    • Habit forming technologies are both painkillers and vitamins, at first they are vitamins, but once the habit is established, they provide an ongoing pain remedy.

    2. Trigger

    Habits are not created, they are built upon. Triggers provide the basis for sustained behavior change.

    External Triggers

    • Log in to Mint -> (Button) (Information for what to do next is embedded)
    • Four types: Paid, Earned, Relational, and Owned.
    • Paid triggers. These triggers include advertising, search engine marketing, and other paid channels that attract user’s attention and get them to check out a product or service.
    • Earned triggers. These are triggers that you can’t buy directly, but that still generate short-term exposure. Things like press, viral videos, App Store rankings and speaking gigs are all earned opportunities to get wider exposure. Though they can be very effective, these kinds of triggers are also harder to consistently replicate.
    • Relationship triggers. These triggers are generated by referrals from people you have a relationship with. Think of tweets you see from friends playing the Kardashian game, things that Facebook connections “Like”, or hearing about products from word of mouth. All are triggers that leverage existing relationships to reach new users, and can be extremely powerful.
    • Owned triggers. Lastly, these are triggers that are a part of your user’s environment by their choice: the app icon on a user’s phone, an email newsletter the user subscribers to, or push notifications the user has opted in to.

    Internal Triggers

    • Emotions, particularly negative ones, are powerful internal triggers.
    • Yin often uses Instagram when she fears a special moment will be lost forever.
    • Participants with high depression also had extremely high email usage.
    • Checking email validates our importance, as we're constantly checking to see if someone needs us.
    The ultimate goal of a habit forming product is to solve the user's pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company's product or service as the source of the relief.
    • Jack Dorsey spends a lot of time writing user narratives. "If you do that well, all the prioritization, all of the product, all of the design just falls naturally. " + 5 Whys Method

    3. Action

    B.J Fogg's habits model:

    1. User must have sufficient motivation
    2. The user must have the ability to complete the desired action
    3. Trigger must be present to activate the behavior
    • Any technology or product that significantly reduces the steps to complete a task will enjoy high adoption rates by the people it assists
    • Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time...Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps - Evan Williams
    • Is the user short on time? Money? Does it take too much effort? Is it too difficult to understand? Is the user in a social context where it would be weird?
    • Designers should ask: What is the thing that is missing that would allow my users to proceed to the next step.

    The greatest return on investment generally comes from increasing a product's ease of use.

    • Increasing motivation is expensive & time-consuming.

    Product can decrease in perceived value if it starts off as scare and becomes abundant.

    The Framing Effect, Scarcity Effect, Anchoring Effect, The Endowed Progress Effect -> start with one on a punch card.

    4. Variable Reward

    • James Olds & Peter Milner accidentally discovered a new area of the brain responsible for cravings. -> nucleus accumbens
    • Sex, delicious food activate this part of the brain -> triggered in the anticipation for it.
    • The need to alleviate the craving for this reward.
    • Adding variablity increased the frequency of the pigeons' completing the intended action.
    • Rewards of the tribe -> water cooler
    • Albert Bandura - social learning theory
    • when we see someone getting rewarded for a particular behavior, more likely to alter our own beliefs and behaviors.
    • Rewards of the hunt
    • Rewards of the self -> Video Games: intrinsic motivation
    • Mahalo payed users for answering questions, but soon people became bored.
    • Rewards must fit into the narrative of why the product is used and align with the user's internal triggers and motivations.
    "But you are free to accept or refuse" increased yes votes by 42%  
    • ^ This disarms or instinctive rejection of being told what to do.

    "If I had been a person who had previously logged food using pen and paper MyFitnessPal would of been a welcomed improvement"

    • "People  soon felt obligated to use it (MyFitnessPal)"
    • "Social factors were the most important reasons ppl used the service & recommended it to others." - Juho Hamari
    • Companies fail because they ask users to learn new unfamiliar actions instead of making old routines easier (Calm + Sleep)
    • Games played with others offer infinite variability (minecraft)
    • Give users a sense of agency, eg Uber telling customers when their ride will arrive vs user not knowing at all when a taxi will come.

    5. Investment

    • The attitude towards habit formation is the second most important factor after frequency. (perceived utility)
    • Cognitive Dissonance - The fox and the sour grapes. To combat this -> repeated exposure.
    • Zynga used human psychology to create a $100 million dollar text based Mafia Wars.

    Rationalization -> This must be worthwhile because I spent my time on it. Therefore it must be worth $20. These all lead to rationalization:

    1. The more effort we put into something the more we value it.
    2. We are more likely to be consistent with our past behaviors.
    3. We change our preferences to avoid cognitive dissonance.
    • Investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immeditate gratification.
    • The timing of asking for user investment is critically important. By asking for the investment after the reward, the company has an opportunity to leverage a central trait of human behavior -> reciprocation
    • Progressively stage the investment you want from users into small chunks of work.
    • Snapchat double tap to reply makes loading the next trigger super easy.
    • Each pin gives pinterest the tacit permission to contact the user with a notification when someone contributes to the thread.
    • Identify how long it takes for a loaded trigger, how can you reduce this cycle.

    6. What Are You Going to Do with This

    • Step 1: What does the user really want?
    • Step 2: What gets the user to the product?
    • Step 3: What is the simplest behaviour in anticipation of the reward?
    • Step 4: Is the reward fulfilling, yet leaves the user wanting more?
    • Step 5: What is the ‘bit of work’ done to increase the likelihood of returning? (Does it load the next trigger & store value?)
    • Ian Bogost - habit forming technology -> the cigarette of the 21st century

    7. The Bible App

    • As competitors popped up, Grunewald started creating reading plans.
    • By parsing readings into digestible communion portions, the app focuses on the small task users can accomplish.
    • Front loads intersting content & provides alternate audio version.
    • Not knowing what the next verse will be adds a variable reward.

    8. Fitbod

    • Allen Chen is the founder.
    • Requires no long term commitments, and if users fall of the app has the next best workout ready to go.
    • Rewards of the self -> seeing if you can beat your personal best.

    9. Habit Testing & Where to Look for Habit Forming  Opportunities

    • A habit path -> series of similar actions shared by your most loyal users.
    • The camera, airplane, telephone, and internet were first seen as toys.

    Whenever, new technologies suddenly make a behavior easier, new possibilities are born

    • This helps the cycling of the Hooked Model much easier and efficient.
    • Think about wearables.

    Identify habitual users, codify the path, and then modify the product to get more users to take this path.

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