Growth Metrics and Critical Thinking: Unlocking Success for Social Apps


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 17, 2023

4 min read


Growth Metrics and Critical Thinking: Unlocking Success for Social Apps


Growth is a vital aspect of any social app's success. To benchmark this growth accurately, it is crucial to define core metrics and evaluate them against industry standards. Additionally, incorporating critical thinking skills, such as inversion, can provide unique insights and help overcome challenges. In this article, we will explore the key growth metrics for social apps and delve into the power of inversion in decision-making.

Defining Core Metrics for Social App Growth:

When benchmarking growth, it is essential to establish core metrics that align with the nature of the app. For most consumer social apps, daily active users (DAUs) serve as a primary metric. Having a consistent user base is crucial for the success of these apps, as users should engage with the product daily. In some cases, weekly active users (WAUs) can be an acceptable starting metric for apps with a less frequent use case. However, upgrading to DAUs becomes necessary for securing a prominent position on users' home screens.

Organic Growth and Inherent Virality:

Ideally, a significant portion of a social app's growth should come organically. This is because social apps often struggle to monetize early on, limiting their ability to invest heavily in paid marketing. Moreover, social apps should possess inherent virality, where users are motivated to invite their friends to enhance the overall experience. If a social app relies too heavily on paid sources for user acquisition (more than 10-20% in the early stages), it may indicate the need to reconsider the acquisition strategy. Growth should primarily stem from the product itself, emphasizing its value and appeal to users.

Benchmarking Key Metrics:

To gauge the success of a social app's growth, several key metrics need to be benchmarked. Let's explore these metrics and their corresponding benchmarks:

1. DAU / MAU Ratio:

The ratio between daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs) is a crucial indicator of user engagement and loyalty. The benchmarks for this ratio are as follows:

  • OK: 25%
  • Good: 40%
  • Great: 50%+

A higher DAU / MAU ratio signifies that users are incorporating the app into their daily lives, indicating a stronger product-market fit.

2. L-ness Curve:

The L-ness curve measures how frequently users engage with the app over a specific period, typically on a weekly basis. An ideal L-ness curve should have a "smiling" or even better, a "crooked smile" shape, indicating regular and sustained use. The benchmarks for L5+ performance are as follows:

  • OK: 30%
  • Good: 40%
  • Great: 50%+

A higher L5+ percentage demonstrates that users are consistently using the app almost every day, reinforcing its value in their lives.

3. Retention:

Retention is a crucial metric that measures how many users continue to engage with the app over time. Evaluating retention at specific points in time, such as d1 (day 1), d7 (day 7), and d30 (day 30), provides insights into user loyalty. The benchmarks for n-day retention are as follows:

  • OK: d1 50%, d7 35%, d30 20%
  • Good: d1 60%, d7 40%, d30 25%
  • Great: d1 70%, d7 50%, d30 30%

It is important to note that retention curves tend to flatten after the first two weeks, highlighting the need for sustained engagement strategies.

Incorporating Inversion for Better Decision-Making:

Inversion, a thinking technique embraced by Stoics and great thinkers, involves considering the opposite of what you desire or the worst-case scenario. By practicing inversion, social app developers can gain a clearer perspective and make better plans to prevent negative experiences. Inversion can be applied to various aspects of app development, including problem-solving, decision-making, and innovation.

One way to implement inversion is by rephrasing problems in inverse form, as mathematician Carl Gustav Jacobi famously did. This approach helps identify potential obstacles and devise strategies to overcome them. By challenging the status quo and overturning conventional norms, social app developers can create compelling and innovative experiences that stand out in a crowded market.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Define your core metric: Determine the primary metric that aligns with your social app's purpose and user behavior. This will help you track and benchmark growth effectively.
  • 2. Prioritize organic growth: Focus on creating a product that naturally attracts users and encourages viral growth. Relying on paid sources for acquisition should be minimized, as it may indicate underlying product issues.
  • 3. Embrace inversion for critical thinking: Incorporate the practice of inversion in your decision-making process. By considering the opposite of what you desire or the worst-case scenario, you can gain valuable insights and make more informed choices.


Benchmarking growth metrics and incorporating critical thinking skills are essential for the success of social apps. By defining core metrics, prioritizing organic growth, and embracing inversion, developers can unlock the potential of their apps and create compelling experiences for users. Continuous evaluation, adaptation, and innovative thinking will pave the way for sustained growth and success in the competitive social app landscape.

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