Making Applications Viral, Without Spam

Vir­al­ity isn’t an indis­pens­able fea­ture of all suc­cess­ful applic­a­tions, but for those where it can be hugely bene­fi­cial there are four core prin­ciples that help the vir­al­ity of an applic­a­tion, says Daniel Tan­ner:

  • Invit­a­tion should be a core pro­cess, that is essen­tial to using the applic­a­tion – this will max­im­ise the chances that your users do invite new users.
  • Keep pulling people back in, rather than let­ting them for­get you after the ini­tial invit­a­tion, and make this “remind­er” pro­cess also be cent­ral to the use of the applic­a­tion.
  • Be use­ful even to the lone user, because that lone user is the source of all your oth­er users.
  • Remove arti­fi­cial invit­a­tion lim­its, to recog­nise the real­ity that most invit­a­tions come from a few very act­ive users, and help those users spread the word.

Ten­ner also notes–in passing–the concept of the vir­al loop. Andrew Chen’s take on the loop is the best I’ve read on the top­ic.