TLDR; A short book on Product Development and especially explains how B2C (especially social media) companies make their users hooked on their products. Though Product owners, designers, and founders can use this book in improving their products, every user can read this to understand why some of the popular apps do things (like infinite scroll, weekly digest emails, notifications) which we use day-to-day. Hooked also overlaps with Nir Eyal’s other book Undistractable
It starts with the fact that 79% of smartphone owners check their device within 15 minutes of waking up every morning. (I am one of those 79)
Nir Eyal, the author of the book introduces a model called Hooked which consists of 4 steps:
- Variable Reward
Chapter 1 - The Habit Zone:
- Companies want to create a habit of using their apps which gives higher customer lifetime value (CLTV), greater pricing flexibility, growth, and a competitive edge
- Habit-forming products often start as nice-to-haves (vitamins) then they become must-haves (painkillers) and they alleviate users’ discomfort by relieving a pronounced itch.
Chapter 2 - Trigger:
- Triggers cue the user to take action and they are two kinds:
- Triggers which tell the user what to do next. (Eg: push notifications, sign up email, etc)
- Triggers which tell the user what to do next through associations stored in the user’s memory (Eg: negative emotions, FOMO)
- To build a habit-forming product, makers need to attach the user of their solution to a frequently felt internal trigger
Chapter 3 - Action:
- Action is the simplest behavior in anticipation of reward. Eg. Sign up with Facebook, Infinite scroll in Pinterest, or Likes on Twitter.
- Dr. Fogg’s Behavior model states that for any behavior to occur, a trigger must be present at the same time as the user has sufficient ability and motivation to take action.
- Behavior = Motivation (M) * Ability (A) * Trigger (T)
- To increase the desired behavior, ensure a clear trigger is present; next, increase ability by making the action easier to do; finally, align with the right motivator.
- Motivator generally falls under one of these three
- Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain
- Seeking hope and avoiding fear
- Seeking social acceptance
- Ability is influenced by six factors:
- Physical effort
- Brain cycles
- Social deviance
- Nir suggests optimizing first for Ability (later for Motivator). If its too difficult whatever the motivation, the user is not going to use it.
- Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts we take to make quick decisions. Few examples are
- The Scarcity Effect - The appearance of scarcity affected their perception of value. Eg. Amazon shows only 5 items left
- The Framing Effect - The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgments. Eg. When a famous artist performs their art in a crowded place
- The Anchoring Effect - People often anchor to one piece of information when making a decision Eg. When brands give offers
- The Endowed Progress Effect - A phenomenon that increases motivation as people believe they are nearing a goal. Eg. A LinkedIn profile which how much we have completed details
NOTE: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a great book on the topic Heuristics, Cognitive biases
Chapter 4 - Variable Rewards:
- What draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for the reward.
- Only by understanding what truly matters to users can a company correctly match the right variable reward to their intended behavior.
- Too many companies build their products bettings users will do what they make them do instead of letting them do what they want to do.
- There are 3 types of rewards:
- Tribe - Search for social rewards fueled by connectedness with other people
- Hunt - Search for material resources and information.
- Self - Search for intrinsic rewards of mastery, competence
- When our autonomy is threatened, we feel constrained by our lack of choices and often rebel against doing a behavior.
Chapter 5 - Investment:
- Unlike the variable rewards, which delivers instant gratification, the investment phase concerns the anticipation of reards in the future. Since it comes after the variable reward phase when users are primed to reciprocate.
- Eg: StackOverflow where experts write answers (sometimes very detailed) which gets rewarded by points in the future
- NOTE: Give And Take by Adam Grant is a great book to read on reciprocation. Highly recommended.
- Anything you spend time on, you start to believe, “This must be worthwhile. Why? Because I’ve spent time on it! (I can correlate it. I have done it. Realized its a mistake too late).
- Investments increase the likelihood of users returning (means they will be passing through the Hook again) by improving the service the more it is used.
Chapter 6 - What Are You Going to Do with This?:
- Nir introduces something called Manipulation Matrix I think it can also be used as an employer matrix. When choosing an employer one can use that to see which category their employer is
Chapter 7 - Case Studies
- A couple of case studies which enumerates the principles discussed earlier.