Users love restrictions. Why 140 characters of text, 6 seconds of video and disappearing photos conquer the world

    The following is a strongly written translation of an essay by Andrew Chen Constrained media: How disappearing photos, 6 second videos, and 140 characters are conquering the world , carefully mixed in with the personal opinion and opinion of the author (me) about the structure of the world in general and products in particular.

    A new word on social networks is products with restrictions. The most famous, but far from the only, example of a social network with restrictions is Twitter. If you've heard about this, then let's figure out what caused its success.

    Over the past few years, the world has found out learned many products whose key feature has become restrictions:
    - Write 140 characters or less (Twitter)
    - Record a video that is 6 seconds long (Vine)
    - Download the design with a resolution of no more than 400x300 pixels (Dribbble)
    - View the photo in 3 seconds, after which it will disappear (Snapchat)

    It's amazing why the products with such “strange” restrictions become unrealistically successful? Doesn't more mean better anymore ? Would these products be better if all restrictions were removed? But what, does any restriction do magic or randomly chosen ones?

    It is safe to say only one thing. Limitations are a fundamental part of the product, so to speak, the secret of success. Custom Content Products Bring One Percent Rule. It says: only 1% of users create content, 9% edit and oversee it, and the remaining 90% just view it. Wikipedia and YouTube have repeatedly confirmed the excellent performance of this rule. Of course, when only 1% of users create content, it’s not cool. Let's talk about how to fix it, make it “cool” and what real advantages all this gives.

    Content creation should be extremely simple.

    Simple and quick content creation
    In fact, any application with restrictions makes the process of creating content simple. Even an experienced milling machine operator can type 140 characters. Or take a photo. Or hold the video record button for 6 seconds. And all of the above is very different from the “big empty space for text” in traditional blogging. Everyone knows about the fear of a white sheet or a black hole. Everyone except LiveJournal or Photoshop Image Editor. These products require much more energy to create content.

    It is very important that the constraints are combined with a simple user interface (UI). Limitations literally mean: the product supports fewer use cases. Accordingly, a product is a toy that is easy and fun to use. It is enough to press one button to create a connection. Vine or Snapchat - well done! Clicked - created author's content. And as soon as they reached the limit - the end! And importantly, you don’t have to worry about editing or composing content.

    The ease of creating content in a duet with a simple user interface makes interacting with the product predictable. At the same time, the conversion to users who create content is noticeably growing.

    This is confirmed by many researchers. In particular, Denis Hopeptley in his book“Something Really New: Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products” invites you to understand the reason people use the product. Then - describe the steps required by the consumer to get the result. And when the sequence of tasks from intent to implementation becomes clear, he advises starting to remove the links in the chain until it is simplified as much as possible. People will quickly adopt a technology or product where fewer steps are required to achieve a result.

    Communication is more important than publication

    So, now users have the ability to simply and quickly create content. The next step is to shift the context to communication. Yes, forget about the simple publication of content. Communication facilitates user engagement. The One Percent Rule looks good on paper. Now think about it in the context of communication products. What is the percentage of users who create content, for example in emails? What about Skype? Whatsapp or iMessage? I am sure that it is much more than 1%. I’m not afraid to say that it is almost 100%. A key feature of communication is that all participants are involved in the creation of content and are involved in the process. Wider circle (s)!

    Twitter (and now Facebook) has @ mentions, Dribbble rebounds, and Snapchat is basically a messenger. Many projects have understood the principle and are trying to increase the percentage of users creating content. How? The best way to do this is through communication. Instagram added a Direct feature. On YouTube, you can also @ mention users in the comments. There is even a mobile application for quick video postings. Facebook buys instant messaging services for crazy money. Social networks have gone even further - the retweet and share buttons allow you to create content in one click! And all for the sake of 90% of users, consumers and noble "spyware". For their motivation to create content.
    90% of users only consume content
    These functions motivate people to participate in the process, creating a context around which communication takes place. In addition, they allow you to increase the frequency of use of the product. For example, sending email or push notifications. And, you see, receiving a notification about new messages looks more logical than just advertising text. This notice is based on healthy user-to-user communication, not on “pairing”. In addition to the frequency, increased involvement and virality of the product, this approach also gives a box of cookies.

    Answering is easier than creating from scratch

    It's hard to create something from scratch. Content creation is no exception. Likewise, it is hard to start a dialogue first. Everyone at least once in their life introduced themselves to a stranger or a stranger and know this feeling. And at the same time, answering is very simple. If someone took a selfie by building a funny face or duck-face in Snapchat before, it would be quite natural to build a funny face in response. Even more! If you know that the photo was sent just for you, then you feel that you must respond in the tone in which the communication was started. Virtual etiquette, he is.

    Predictable content

    Nobody likes the "show off". In fact, a platform with a very large number of "show offs" does not generate enough content. This is due to the natural unwillingness to compete with the best (stronger, more successful, beautiful, hairy). Fear of failure in its purest form.

    And it is precisely the restrictions that reduce the variability in content creation! They blur the line between experienced users and users with less skill. Thus, a significantly larger number of people can enjoy using the service. A good analogy comes from childhood: pioneerball VS volleyball. In pioneer ball, you don’t need any special skills, this is a game about participation, and not about victory. For the same reason, football is the most popular game in the world - anyone who has legs can push the ball. And if there is no ball, then a plastic bottle or a tin can also do. Dribbble is a community of designers where posting intermediate work at 400x300 is the norm. More frequent use of the platform is necessary for its participants. Unlike Behance,

    Content availability is also an important factor. If it’s too easy to find better or more professional content on your platform, there will be favorites. You yourself will create a kind of leader, the presence of which prevents others from creating content. Although, the quality of the content that the user finds is growing. A compromise is important here.

    What to do with all this?

    All recommendations will lead to easier content creation. And the greater frequency of use of the product. This is a powerful tool. The high frequency of use opens up more opportunities for both users and the platform itself. The more users create content, the more they are involved in viral rings. That means more users will come thanks to the “viral effect”.

    At the same time, a shift in context towards communication will increase the frequency of use of the product. Snapchat is very simple to ask the user to add multiple recipients after the user replied to the previous message. Or after a user has created a video lasting 6 seconds, it is easy to ask him to share on social networks. After you take a photo, select a filter, mark friends on it, add a comment, Instagram offers to immediately post this photo on all available social networks.

    And next time when you are planning to create a new social product, do not forget to add restrictions. But think carefully about which ones. Add one limitation that makes creating content simple and communication-oriented. This is the best way to defeat the “one percent rule” and motivate the user not just to view the content, but to generate it. For example, the same Medium is doing just that now.

    And the formation of the habit of using your product will serve as a cherry on the cake. Believe me, this is not easy at all. The easier it is to create content, the more it will be created, the more often the user will use the product, the faster the habit will form. A habit is a terrible force, it allows you to increase LTV, increase viral loop and attract a lot of users by spending a minimum of resources.

    Also popular now: