The Key Metrics and Journey of Building a Successful Social App

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Jul 28, 2023

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The Key Metrics and Journey of Building a Successful Social App

Introduction:

Building a successful social app requires careful benchmarking and strategic decision-making. In this article, we will explore the key metrics to consider when evaluating the growth and engagement of a social app. We will also delve into the inspiring journey of Pinterest, highlighting the pivotal moments that led to its success.

Defining Core Metrics:

When benchmarking growth, it is essential to define the core metric for your social app. For most consumer social apps, the daily active users (DAUs) metric is crucial, as it signifies consistent engagement with the product. However, for apps with a less frequent use case, weekly active users (WAUs) can be a suitable starting metric. Ultimately, to secure a coveted spot on users' home screens, upgrading to DAUs is necessary. Ideally, organic growth should be the primary driver of user acquisition for social apps. Paid marketing should be limited, as it cannot compensate for a subpar product. Aim for 10-20% or less of users coming from paid sources in the early stages.

Benchmarking Key Metrics:

To gauge the success of a social app, several key metrics should be considered. Firstly, the DAU/MAU (daily active users to monthly active users) ratio is crucial. A healthy benchmark for this ratio is as follows: OK - 25%, Good - 40%, Great - 50% or more. A favorable DAU/MAU ratio indicates that users are integrating the app into their daily lives.

Another important metric is L5+ performance, which measures the number of users engaging with the app five, six, or seven days a week. A desirable benchmark for L5+ performance is: OK - 30%, Good - 40%, Great - 50% or more. This metric further confirms the app's ability to foster a near-daily use behavior.

Retention is a critical aspect of a social app's success. N-day retention, specifically d1, d7, and d30 (the percentage of an original cohort entering the app on each specific day), should be evaluated. The benchmarks for n-day retention are: OK - d1 50%, d7 35%, d30 20%; Good - d1 60%, d7 40%, d30 25%; Great - d1 70%, d7 50%, d30 30%. It is common for the retention curve to flatten between d7 and d14, reaching a plateau by d20.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize organic growth: Focus on building a product that naturally attracts users without relying heavily on paid marketing. A viral and inherently valuable app is more likely to succeed in the long run.
  • 2. Foster daily use behavior: Aim to make your app an essential part of users' daily routines. The L5+ performance metric can indicate whether users are regularly engaging with your app.
  • 3. Enhance retention strategies: Continuously monitor and improve your app's retention rates. Cohort analysis can provide valuable insights into the trends and stability of user engagement. Strive for stable or improving metrics over time.

Pinterest's Journey to Success:

Pinterest, the web's next big thing, had a remarkable journey to becoming a leading social app. The co-founder, Ben Silbermann, emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with inspiring individuals. Collaborating with his college friend, Paul Sciarra, gave him the motivation to persevere through challenging times.

Initially, Pinterest evolved from an earlier project called Tote, which aimed to provide personalized shopping recommendations. However, Ben realized that the items people collected said a lot about their personalities, leading to the birth of Pinterest. The platform's unique grid layout, introduced by Evan Sharp, played a significant role in its success.

Pinterest faced initial skepticism, but an organized program called "Pin It Forward," initiated by a woman named Victoria, became an inflection point. This program encouraged bloggers to create pinboards about what home meant to them. Suddenly, people started using Pinterest in unexpected ways, expanding its reach and engagement.

The company's first meet-up, organized by Victoria, further solidified its potential. Over time, Pinterest's popularity grew, with Ben recognizing the importance of claiming a dominant position in the market. Today, Pinterest continues to connect individuals with their passions through its visually appealing platform.

Conclusion:

Benchmarking the growth and engagement of a social app is crucial for its success. By defining core metrics, analyzing key benchmarks, and prioritizing organic growth, developers can enhance user acquisition, retention, and engagement. The journey of Pinterest serves as an inspiring example of how strategic decisions and unexpected user behavior can contribute to the success of a social app.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize organic growth: Focus on building a product that naturally attracts users without relying heavily on paid marketing. A viral and inherently valuable app is more likely to succeed in the long run.
  • 2. Foster daily use behavior: Aim to make your app an essential part of users' daily routines. The L5+ performance metric can indicate whether users are regularly engaging with your app.
  • 3. Enhance retention strategies: Continuously monitor and improve your app's retention rates. Cohort analysis can provide valuable insights into the trends and stability of user engagement. Strive for stable or improving metrics over time.

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