Hooked Summary Author says 79 percent of smartphone owners check their device within 15 minutes of waking up every morning. Perhaps more startling, fully one-third of Americans say they would rather give up sex than lose their cell phones. A 2011 university study suggested people check their phones 34 times per day. However, industry insiders believe that number is closer to an astounding 150 daily sessions. Face it, we’re hooked.
Hooked : How to Build Habit Forming Products
Book : Hooked By Nir Eyal
Hooked Book Summary
The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions. It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later. It’s the urge you likely feel throughout your day but hardly notice. Cognitive psychologists define habits as, “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues:” things we do with little or no conscious thought.
How do companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, seemingly control users’ minds? What makes some products so habit forming? For many products, forming habits is an imperative for survival. As infinite distractions compete for our attention, companies are learning to master novel tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds. Today, amassing millions of users is no longer good enough. Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create.
First To Mind Wins
Companies who form strong user habits enjoy several benefits to their bottom line. These companies attach their product to “internal triggers.” As a result, users show up without any external prompting. Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions.
How do products create habits? The answer: They manufacture them. While fans of the television show Mad Men are familiar with how the ad industry once created consumer desire during Madison Avenue’s golden era, those days are long gone. A multi-screen world of ad-wary consumers has rendered Don Draper’s big budget brainwashing useless to all but the biggest brands.
Today, small startup teams can profoundly change behavior by guiding users through a series of experiences I call “hooks.” The more often users run through these hooks, the more likely they are to form habits.
The Hook Model
Hooks are everywhere — in apps, sports, movies, games, and even our jobs. Hooks can be found in virtually any experience that burrows into our minds (and often our wallets).
A trigger is the actuator of behavior — the spark plug in the engine. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming products start by alerting users with external triggers like an email, a website link, or the app icon on a phone.
When users start to automatically cue their next behavior, the new habit becomes part of their everyday routine.
Following the trigger comes the action: the behavior done in anticipation of a reward. The simple action of clicking on the interesting picture in her newsfeed takes users to a website.
Companies leverage two basic pulleys of human behavior to increase the likelihood of an action occurring: the ease of performing an action and the psychological motivation to do it.
What distinguishes the Hook Model from a plain vanilla feedback loop is the hook’s ability to create a craving. Feedback loops are all around us, but predictable ones don’t create desire. The unsurprising response of your fridge light turning on when you open the door doesn’t drive you to keep opening it again and again. However, add some variability to the mix — say a different treat magically appears in your fridge every time you open it — and voila, intrigue is created.
The last phase of the Hook Model is where the user does a bit of work. The investment phase increases the odds that the user will make another pass through the hook cycle in the future. The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product of service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money.
Why Habits are Good for Business
If our programmed behaviors are so influential in guiding our everyday actions, surely harnessing the same power of habits can be a boon for industry. Indeed, for those able to shape them in an effective way, habits can be very good for the bottom line.
Habit-forming products change user behavior and create unprompted user engagement. The aim is to influence customers to use your product on their own, again and again, without relying on overt calls-to action such as ads or promotions. Once a habit is formed, the user is automatically triggered to use the product during routine events such as wanting to kill time while waiting in line.
In the Habit Zone
A company can begin to determine its product’s habit-forming potential by plotting two factors: frequency (how often the behavior occurs) and perceived utility (how useful and rewarding the behavior is in the user’s mind over alternative solutions).
Googling occurs multiple times per day, but any particular search is negligibly better than rival services like Bing. Conversely, using Amazon may be a less frequent occurrence, but users receive great value knowing they’ll find whatever they need at the one and only “everything store.
About the Author :
Nir Eyal writes, consults, and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He is an advisor to several Bay Area startups, venture capital firms, and incubators. Since 2003, Nir has founded two technology companies. His most recent startup received venture funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Nir has lectured at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. His writing appears in The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Psychology Today, TechCrunch, and his blog, NirAndFar.com. Nir attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Emory University.