Building an engaged platform
Founder, Data Geek, Entrepreneur
Ask your early users to invite the friends they know well and trust.
Fast user growth does not mean you will have good user engagement.
If growth slows, look for new ways to engage your existing users.
Lesson: Data-Driven Decisions with Mike Greenfield
Step #2 Engagement: Building an engaged platform
The Circle of Moms story was we launched as a Facebook app for moms, and we’d actually had a previous Facebook app called Circle of Friends and we'd seen a strong way that Facebook app could grow with Circle of Friends where if someone would sign up and we'd say, "Who are the people in this circle?" That circle might be your high school buddies, it might be your drinking buddies and it might be your circle of moms.
We used that for Circle of Moms. So a mom would sign up for a Circle of Moms and we would say, "Who are the moms that you know well and trust?" She would invite those friends, add them to her circle. Many of them would join Circle of Moms. Over the first few months we grew very quickly. Unfortunately, people weren't really using the product that deeply. They would sign up and they might join a couple of communities with other moms like them, but their engagement was not super high. But we were growing quickly.
Then at a certain point the way that we were growing, which was mainly through Facebook invitations, basically dried up. Facebook changed the rules and those invitations, which were a great source of growth for the first maybe 12 months after we launched, became a very small source of growth. As a result of that, we found ourselves in a position where we said, "Okay. We have 6 million users. They're not that active. We need to do something with this user base and we need to engage them. We're not going to have a huge obvious source of growth going forward, so we need to engage these users. Let's figure something out.”
That was definitely a scary time, yeah. We launched in late 2008 and we saw a lot of growth in 2008 and 2009. Then 2010, pretty much every single month our numbers dropped. Finally, towards the very end of the year, we started to find some things that worked well, specifically with e-mail and also with search. 2011 was a much better year for us, where our numbers were growing rather than shrinking.