The Power of Graph Design in Social Media and Gamification Techniques in UberEats

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Aug 08, 2023

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The Power of Graph Design in Social Media and Gamification Techniques in UberEats

Introduction:

In the ever-evolving world of social media, the design of a user's social graph plays a crucial role in shaping their experience. However, many social media platforms have made critical design mistakes in this area, overlooking the importance of the social context in which users interact. This article explores the problem of graph design and its impact on user engagement and satisfaction. Additionally, it delves into the gamification techniques employed by UberEats, highlighting the parallels between its delivery system and gaming mechanics.

The Problem of Graph Design in Social Media:

When designing a social media app that relies on a user's social graph, it is essential to consider how to ensure the user ends up with the most optimal graph to derive maximum value from the product or service. Many Western social apps intertwine the social graph and the content feed, assuming that people's social connections directly reflect their interests and preferences. However, this approach often leads to suboptimal user experiences, as people's social networks do not always align with their entertainment or informational needs.

The Negative Network Effects of Social Graphs:

Social graphs, especially at scale, can have negative network effects. For instance, on platforms like Twitter, users follow others, but they may not find every person they follow to be entertaining or relevant. This mismatch between content and social connections ultimately affects the quality of the user's feed. Furthermore, the collapse of contexts arising from having diverse followers from different spheres of life can create confusion and disengagement for users.

The Path Dependency and Consequences of Graph Design:

Graph design decisions in social media are often irreversible or challenging to reverse. Users tend to conform to their initial graph and rarely unfollow people they have followed. This path dependency can lead to skewed user demographics, reinforcing stereotypes and limiting the platform's growth potential. Once an app achieves product-market fit, it becomes even more challenging to make significant changes to the social graph without disappointing users who have embraced the platform as it is.

Patching the Problem and the Rise of Algorithmic Feeds:

To tackle the graph design problem, many social media platforms opt for patchwork solutions, such as switching from chronological to algorithmic feeds. While this may improve feed relevance, it does not address the root issue of sourcing stories solely from the social graph. Additionally, the limitations of a single social graph per account hinder the development of alternative social architectures that could provide a better user experience.

UberEats and Gamification in Delivery Services:

In the realm of delivery services, UberEats stands out for its innovative use of gamification techniques. The company's delivery system resembles a game cycle, with drivers receiving rewards for each delivery they complete. Similar to random encounters in role-playing games, UberEats drivers are not aware of the restaurant or customer location until they accept a delivery. This gamified approach not only keeps drivers engaged but also adds an element of excitement and unpredictability to their work.

The Power of Unique Graph Structures:

While graph design is often discussed defensively, it can also be used offensively to create unique and valuable connections. In a world where finding someone online has become a commodity, crafting a graph that encodes valuable and unique intelligence becomes crucial. By facilitating meaningful introductions and connections, social networks can enhance user experiences and create lasting relationships.

Conclusion and Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize Interest Graphs: Instead of relying solely on a social graph, consider building an interest graph that can quickly adapt to users' evolving tastes. This can be achieved by observing user reactions and implementing algorithms that tailor content to their preferences.
  • 2. Decouple Content Feed from Social Graph: Explore the possibility of decoupling a user's content feed from their social graph, allowing for more personalized and relevant content recommendations.
  • 3. Embrace Graph Design Changes: While changing the social graph structure may be challenging, social media platforms should have the courage to make necessary adjustments to improve user experiences and avoid stagnation.

In conclusion, graph design plays a pivotal role in shaping user experiences in social media platforms. By understanding the importance of social context, avoiding path dependency, and embracing innovative approaches, social media companies can create more engaging and personalized experiences for their users. Similarly, the gamification techniques employed by UberEats demonstrate the power of incorporating gaming mechanics into real-life services. By leveraging graph design and gamification, companies can revolutionize user experiences and forge meaningful connections.

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