Greetings and salutations – it’s been a while since I’ve posted on the forums, definitely more than a month at the least. Get ready for a mouthful, because I’m about to write quite the essay to end all of my previous essays.
I love the app to death – its community is something I’m more than happy to be a part of, and it’s been a very endearing four months now (crazy, right?! It’s been a THIRD of a year already!) I haven’t been as active on the app or forums like I used to be, but I still visit daily (my attention recently has turned to studying for the MCAT and also the S T O N K market). As the days and the weeks continue to fly, we’ve been seeing new app consumers pour in by the tens and hundreds, yet retention rates are stagnant at best. It’s the golden question, really – what can the producers create to increase the consumer retention to a larger amount, or inspire users to become creators themselves?
From what it seems, the majority of the app that has stuck around are creators – people who actively use and create on the app, whereas the average consumer has, notably, seemingly felt off-put by the app as a content-sharing medium, especially when they’re only here to be consumers, not producers of content. The question we have to ask ourselves, as people who want to see the app grow, is:
What features can we implement that’ll tailor more to CONSUMERS, and, at the same time, inspire consumers to become producers? The majority of the userbase has continued to be people that create for the app – but what’s keeping people from coming back to consume their content? And most of all, what can Byte offer that’s unique and not found on any other apps, everywhere?
Therein lies a few problems. What is something completely unique that app producers can implement that is 100% not offered elsewhere? If we were to talk hypothetically, what is keeping our average Joe from saying “Hey, why would I use Byte, if I could use Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter?” They’re all content-sharing platforms. And, even comparing Byte to its more relevant, titanic competitor (it sickens me to use the following words) – Tik (bleh) Tok (ugh) – we’re both apps that share short videos with varying time limits, have music to implement (bought, copyrighted music on Tik Tok’s end, or original beats on Byte’s end), we’re not much different from each other, except for maybe the unique Byte looping feature. So, this begs the question: what feature can we implement that Tik Tok cannot directly copy, and sets us further apart as a content-sharing medium?
Q: But what about the Partner Program? Isn’t that essentially what you’re talking about?
Some could argue that the partner program was that difference, the means to invite more creators to create videos on the app at the chance of becoming a partner, and the motivation for consumers to become creators. Maybe it is! It seems to have been alright, at the very least, albeit expensive. One of the biggest things we’d need to implement to keep things like this rolling to reinforce people’s motivations to BECOME partners is program transparency. Of the people that join the app, I’d say 9 out of 10 average Joes don’t even know what the badges certain creators mean, let alone the partner badge. If there was a greater transparency letting new users know what the app is and what sets it apart, say, an informational page about the partner program, the beat program, things like that – letting them KNOW that these features exist, it’d fare much more user-friendly to people who don’t even know the forums existed.
Hell, I didn’t even know the forums existed until the app came out, no matter how many times I searched “where is vine 2” on Google, I didn’t even know it was called “Byte” until it was released, let alone that there were forums dedicated to anticipating it coming out. On top of that, the algorithms on the app are always being improved to let smaller users try and be green-lit for some likes and short-term happiness, like we all used to get, or still get. Those kinds of feelings of reward only go so far, though, since they can be obtained through other, larger apps. Essentially, that leads me to my first idea:
Idea I: An In-App Announcements Bulletin
Maybe, if we were to go down this route, it would be really wise to have some kind of bulletin tab on the app to give announcements of new features and what’s been happening in the community. Something separate from the forums – the average Joe who visits the app does not know the forums exist, let alone follow Byte on all socials like Twitter to be able to know announcements. So, really, continuing down this route, what we’d need is a combination of the app with the transparency of the forums, and I think a bulletin tab for announcements would really help new consumers understand what’s going on – what the badges mean, what the partner program is, everything. Make it more new-user friendly in terms of the implemented features, then just link the forums at the bottom or something, with a message like “Want to read more? Join us on the forums :^)”
I also want to give my two cents on the “trending hashtags” feature that was taken down after it was abused almost immediately. Well, hashtag abuse is, like, really easy to game when you’re a part of an app with a small community such as this one – I definitely think that a trending hashtags feature under the “Search” / explore page would be integral to keeping the app fresh and alive, though, its use right now is questionable due to potential abuse from the community being small versus larger, where gaming the system would be easier to filter given enough people are on the app.
Q: Well, then, what else? What else could increase daily user / consumer retention?
This is what I’ve been brainstorming for the past few weeks in a few discord servers – nobody really knows, until last night, I was bouncing a few ideas and @trconrady chimed in. This is one of many things we could potentially do to increase daily user retention and motivate more people to use the app more frequently, beyond the scope of raw entertainment or trends. Again, this is just an idea, one among many:
Idea II: An In-App Byte Economy: Bits
This may sound crazy, but read it to the end – it’s just an idea, and I’ve included a case study on waht to do and what not to do. What if we were to implement a pseudo-economy into the app? Something to consider, a sort of pseduo-monetary reward for people opening the app or consuming content, and it would be more vastly unique enough to set Byte apart from other apps when marketing the app comes around (Look! This app is different! It has a REDEEMABLE economy feature!) Economies are known for keeping people coming back for more – just look at any game, and combining the idea of social media with an economy is almost unheard of (but has been done before, in another app, read more on that later). A few months ago, people were talking about “what if Byte had a currency, what would we call it?” --> bits would be a good name, to fit in with the “Byte = 8 bits” theme. After brainstorming with Tyler, we compiled a list of ideas on what a “bits” could be used for, and how they could be gained:
How to earn "Bits"
- Logging in, increases with login streaks over time? Bonuses?
- Uploading bytes (this would have to be regulated, since people could just massively upload junk, so maybe this isn’t a good idea. But maybe getting bits over X amount of engagement could be better)
- Engaging with X amount of other people’s posts (this could fare better than “receiving” engagement, since reception of bits could encourage engagement circles once again, so rather giving bits for people to engage with other people could be better)
- Reaching milestones such as certain follower count, loop count, post count, comment count, etc.
- Sharing the app on social media sites or with friends
- Randomly given out charitably or to coincide with events? Maybe event-related Bytes garner more bits if you upload?
- Certain partners or selected byters can distribute or give them away? (I don’t know so much about distribution or ability to give away currency, because this could be terrible if implemented incorrectly. I’ll reference a case study later).
- Scavenger hunt? Hidden in certain parts of the app that you can earn by finding or doing certain if/then activities in app. This would be super fun for the community to collaborate on.
- For using certain aspects of the app. Have you visited every single category in the last 24 hours? BOOM. earn some bits. Did you participate in a temporary trend/category. BOOM. earn some bits. Did you go through all of the settings and read the Credits? BOOM. earn some bits. You get the idea. Then, you get achievements! :^)
- What can bits be used for?
Bits could be used to redeem:
- Additional logos for the app? Food for thought.
- Additional colors for your profile
- Additional character length in your bio? Lmao
- Font options in your in-app text editor
- Filters akin to Instagram/Snapchat/TikTok
- Emotes? Emote slots? Custom emotes?
- Plays in “the arcade” (more on this later)
- Real life merch (hats, shirts, stickers, hoodies, bags, etc.) This would be the ultimate tier of redeemable prizes and, as such, would cost the most bits. Merch could range in bit cost from say: sticker to hoodie, for example). How this could be handled to distribute is beyond me, but just another idea.
In my personal opinion, redemption of bits for user-related features could be viewed negatively or positively, depending on how they’re implemented. Again, it’s an idea of “Why would I use this app that has their features locked behind a wall when I could just use TT?” Personally, I think the latter options would be a lot more rewarding for people to come back, and keep people coming back, though, that doesn’t mean they can’t coexist. If other people had more ideas for what “bits” or a byte currency could be used for, that’d be cool.
In terms of an “arcade,” we’re talking, like, I don’t know. Some sort of in-app feature that allows people to want to collect more bits, something fun. Personally, I have a huge gambling-RNG addiction, and a lot of people on mobile apps do. The thing that could set Byte apart from other apps could be an economy-social media fusion, which is completely unique in its own respect. What if there was, like, a “bit slot machine” that you could use to gamble to earn more? Or some kind of game you could play?
A claw machine, maybe, where prizes range from, I don’t know, user features to monetary or merchandise rewards? A shell game? Something, anything – I’m just vomiting ideas here. Something to motivate people to want to come back daily, consume content, and then have an external reward for consuming that content rather than just internal ones, which, with an interval-based or fixed-ratio reinforcement schedule (shoutout to my Psych bros), could prove much better for the average app consumer, which tend to not stick around solely for content. Merchandising, of course, would be one of the biggest ones to implement that would get people riled up – imagine the whole “sneakerhead” culture, but for Byte merchandise. Really depends, again, on how it’s implemented. TikTok itself has no ads in the app itself, just one when you open it – could this monetarily fuel the potential for offering straight currency for Bits in the shop? Then again, I know how against in-app ads Dom is, so, I don’t know. Just still vomiting ideas to consider.
Tyler had a great idea regarding the entire “arcade” aspect. Just like how beat creation was outsourced to creators on the app (which have to be cycled through and updated frequently, leading to easy financial exhaustion), outsourcing, curating, and utilizing artists and different developers to be able to create or design features of the arcade or the announcement bulletin (as in Idea 1), are also possible, sticking to the idea of “creativity first,” except with helping design the features by which the currency can be used. Still, it sounds really ambitious – but regarding the futures of the app, if implemented well, it could be something entirely unique enough to keep users coming back for more once it’s time for merchandising and marketing for the app. As I see it, raw entertainment only goes so far in this day and age, people have short attention spans for entertainment social media because alternative Titans already exist.
But, here’s something we really have to consider. How has this “economy” feature worked out in the past? Surely, it can’t just be unique to Byte if it were implemented, right? Well, you’re right. Here’s a case study I looked at a while back: Nimses.
Nimses: A Case Study on In-App Economies
To be honest, I didn’t even know what Nimses was until my friend told me, but I found it…REALLY interesting, to say the least. Imagine Twitter and Facebook meet Cryptocurrency meets Amazon. If you want to read the full article on how Nimses works, read this: https://ain.ua/en/2019/01/11/what-about-nimses/
Essentially, here’s the rundown. It’s been out for a few years, and in 2018, Pewdiepie got under a lot of heat for doing a sponsorship of Nimses, and the app jumped from 500 in the app store to 28 within a day. How the app works is that it revolves around the idea of “time” becoming “tangible” – the more time you spend on the app and the more content you consume, the more “nims” you receive, and I believe each minute = 1 Nim.
The “content” on the app is basically a combination of Facebook and Twitter, where people just post videos, share statuses and short, tweet-like stuff, the like. Users had the ability to transfer and share nims to each other, which, I believe was a catalyst for its demise, among other things. Nims could be redeemed for Nim-related merchandise ranging from sweatshirts to sweaters, jackets, pants, and even real-world currency (since “Nims” were regarded a cryptocurrency). The app was pretty popular…until it quickly became under scrutiny for its privacy concerns.
Nimses is now usually regarded as a “pyramid scheme,” which, yeah, it maybe is – the developers gain a ton from user and ad revenue that the gains from the userbase are minimal compared to what the owners are receiving. Not to mention it was made by a shady Ukranian company – before long, like Tik Tok, Nimses suffered from huge privacy concerns from things like users being able to see the locations of every Nimses user within a two mile radius. If you look at the app now, it’s essentially just a bunch of Russian porn bots that spam porn or sexually-suggestive videos that, of course, get a ton of likes and attention, which garner them Nims to be able to redeem for things in the Nims shop. A very unique idea, but sad to see it go. This is how economies can be implemented WRONG.
So, where to from here?
I don’t know. I think the idea of an in-app economy would be awesome if implemented right, just considering the way Nimses was implemented (in particular, the ability to exchange currency between users, probably shouldn’t be a thing). Maybe implementing these features is just all a big reach. My point is, I think what would really help the app be successful and increase user retention is some sort of reward beyond internal rewards, since internal rewards can be offered by countless other apps – Instagram, Twitter, TT, YT. They’re all social media apps that offer short-form video content.
Setting Byte apart as unique would either need 1. An increase in user transparency (telling any and all new and old users about the partner program and the beats program for one, using an in-app announcement bulletin, because I’m pretty sure any user who doesn’t follow the forums or Byte on twitter is always left in the dark), or 2. Some sort of external reward that would increase consumer retention, such as the implementation of an in-app economy, which could set it apart enough to keep people around to see it as unique from other social media apps, this one being a social media-game-app-economy conglomerate. Or, even something altogether that we don’t know! I’m just tossing ideas around. But, to note, what we’d need to acknowledge is that implementation of an economy, if done wrong, could inevitably cannibalize the app along with the economy, so it’d have to be done well. Just food for thought, and rambling at this point, really.
Any thoughts? :^) Bottom line, I don’t know. Does anyone else have any other unique game-changing ideas to add? O: