"Unlocking Growth and Building a Cult-Like Following: Insights from Roam Research and Benchmarking Social Apps"

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Sep 27, 2023

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"Unlocking Growth and Building a Cult-Like Following: Insights from Roam Research and Benchmarking Social Apps"

Introduction:

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, capturing the attention and loyalty of users is a crucial aspect of success. Two prime examples of companies that have achieved this are Roam Research and various social apps. Roam Research, with its difficult yet powerful tool, managed to create a dedicated following by targeting "intellectual athletes" and preaching a mission of building a second brain. On the other hand, social apps strive to benchmark their growth and engagement metrics to ensure they are on the right track. By exploring the commonalities and unique strategies of these two realms, we can uncover valuable insights on cultivating a loyal user base and driving growth.

Targeting Intellectual Athletes:

Roam Research and Tesla's approach to targeting their initial users shares a common thread. Tesla started with a high-end sports car, appealing to car enthusiasts who would appreciate the subtle improvements it could bring to the industry. Similarly, Roam Research went after "intellectual athletes" – writers, researchers, and those who think deeply about complex problems. By targeting these individuals, Roam Research found users who were willing to invest time in learning new tools and workflows to solve their complex problems.

Building a Cult-Like Following:

Roam Research's success can be attributed to its ability to create a cult-like following. Founder Conor White-Sullivan leveraged his social capital and preached the mission of building a second brain. He used platforms like Twitter to create threads that explained the philosophy behind the product and engaged in debates with those who held opposing views. This strong belief in how things "ought to be" resonated with users who were frustrated with existing tools. Once users mastered the intricacies of Roam Research, they became vocal advocates, sharing their experiences and inviting others to join the community.

Benchmarking Growth for Social Apps:

When it comes to social apps, benchmarking growth and engagement metrics is crucial. Daily active users (DAUs) or weekly active users (WAUs) serve as core metrics for most consumer social apps. The goal is to have users actively engaging with the product on a regular basis. The benchmark for monthly user growth in seed-stage consumer social companies ranges from 20% to 50%. Organic growth is preferred, as it signifies that users genuinely find value in the product and are likely to invite others to join.

Retaining Users and Cultivating Networks:

Retention is a key aspect of sustained growth for social apps. Metrics such as n-day retention, which looks at the percentage of users from an original cohort who continue using the app at specific intervals (d1, d7, d30), provide valuable insights. Good benchmarks for n-day retention range from 60% to 70% (d1), 40% to 50% (d7), and 25% to 30% (d30). Additionally, weekly retention becomes relevant for apps transitioning into networks. The benchmarks for weekly retention are typically 55% to 75% (w1) and 30% to 50% (w4).

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Identify your target audience: Just as Roam Research targeted "intellectual athletes," it's essential to understand who your product appeals to the most. Focus on users who have a complex problem that your product can solve and are willing to invest time in learning new tools.
  • 2. Preach a strong mission: Develop a clear mission for your product that resonates with your target audience. Communicate this mission through various channels and engage in discussions to build a community of like-minded individuals.
  • 3. Benchmark and prioritize retention: Continuously track and analyze retention metrics to ensure that users are finding value in your product. Strive to improve retention rates through regular updates, feature enhancements, and by fostering a sense of community among users.

Conclusion:

Roam Research and social apps provide valuable insights into capturing user attention and fostering growth. By targeting the right audience, preaching a strong mission, and prioritizing retention, companies can cultivate a dedicated following and drive sustainable growth. Understanding the nuances of user behavior and regularly benchmarking growth metrics will help ensure that your product becomes a valuable part of users' lives.

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