I’m obsessed with viral loops.
Andrew Chen writes a great post: 5 crucial stages in designing your viral loop. Go read it.
Good viral loops won’t guarantee success, but they can make a huge difference in attracting prospects and converting them into customers. By virtue of the fact that viral loops spread your product / service / website from person-to-person can have a huge impact on successful brand building, and increasing a sense of overall loyalty. They also impact the frequency by which your product / service / website is used (and truth be told, I’d focus on where and how your product can be made into a “daily use application”)
Good viral loops sit in the middle of two challenging issues – lead generation and conversion optimization. Recently I said that you should focus on optimizing conversions before trying to massively increase leads. If you can get a successful viral loop working on your site, you’ll be combining lead generation and conversion optimization at the same time. That’s the point of the viral loop – to increase quality leads and conversions.
One of Andrew’s most important points is the possibility of “over-optimizing” a viral loop to increase conversion rates. He writes:
Oftentimes, to get a number to move from 10% to 30%, there’s temptation to do things that users may not be happy with. This might include things like asking for invites multiple times throughout the initial session, presenting an opt-out process for selecting friends, etc. These are all bad and need to be fixed in order to create a long-term sustainable viral loop.
A lot of applications take liberties with users in order to maximize virality. For example, we’ve seen several Twitter applications that automatically tweeted on a user’s behalf without really telling them about it. The goal is to get those branded tweets out into Twitter and gain exposure, but it’s done at the expense of user’s trust. That’s not a smart move, and it will bite you in the ass at some point.
It’s OK to push the envelope when it comes to optimizing viral loops, but do it transparently and with users’ best interests in mind. If you push a bit too far, users will tell you. Fix the problem and move on.
I’m obsessed with viral loops. Feel free to join me…
photo from sadalit