How to engage with 1,000,000,000 users?


As there is a new wave of Indian companies building for the next billion users, I started thinking about the basic building blocks which will serve as a solid "engagement" foundation. There are new companies built in every garage, but how can one ensure high user engagement/ retention/ expansion, and avoid the fatal fatigue engendered by every wave of new media or platform adoption?

Every industry has its critical value drivers. But the first step is to think systematically about it, and understand that engagement requires a set of building blocks that will feed into the critical value drivers.


Engagement platforms (as described by Mark Boncheck) are built from MULTIPLE ENGAGEMENT LAYERS working together.
  • The identity layer recognizes the customer.
  • The data layer exchanges information to personalize the experience.
  • The relationship layer enables connection among the brand and community members.
  • The value layer delivers benefits to the users.

Initial models naturally gravitated towards “pure-play” platforms like Paytm, Flipkart, that focussed mostly on Commerce. But this value chain has to broaden to engage widely to engage with a wider audience whose primary motivation to come on the platform is different. Some successful companies that realised and adopted these strategies much later are Apple’s iTunes music manager, Nike+ running community etc. In the forthcoming years, we will see platforms built with "network effect" first engagement models that have a wider audience reach before commerce comes to play. For example, Kickstarter was built around Collaboration, Pinterest was built around Curation, etc.

PULL PULL PULL

Users don't like to be pushed. The engagement models should be weaved in to the product or platform, such that it "pulls" the customer to itself. Several companies like Google or Linkedin are using the PULL strategy to engage. Platforms that have the ability to create a gravitational field and the attract customers into orbit around their brand and drive engagement, will become successful.

The types of engagement strategies that are particularly common- Connection, Content, Curation, Conversation, Collaboration, Contribution, Commerce.
Indian startups building communities for 1,000,000,000 are mostly centered these models. For example, Sharechat for conversation, Vokal for collaboration, PopXo for content etc.. These platforms will be built to engage with customers outside the purchase process and deliver value beyond the products being sold. The goal is to keep the customers in frequent orbit around the brand, and make it easy for customers to purchase a product or a service.

By defining the kind of relationship, companies can create greater engagement, differentiation, and loyalty.

Research shows that companies with platform- and network-based business models are exponentially better at creating value. These models have proven to grow faster, make more money, and are more valued than companies organized around products and services.

As you embark on your network journey, it is vital to understand value in a network is about what you connect, not what your product or service is.

Source: This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Shalini Prakash

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