May 28, 2010

Excellent Social Platform Engagement Checklist

Written by Matthijs Roumen on May 25th, 2010

I personally tend to dislike checklists, published over blogs that add up numbers of actions which are clearly pulled together to form an unthoughtful list. This checklist from LukeW is different. It’s a list that looks like it has been thought through over and over again to not miss out any points when it comes to engaging users in your social platform. The author itself calls it a high-level checklist for social web applications.

whether its about the most basic elements to social motivational factors, this list of LukeW has them all. Read on after the fold.

The list adds up several questions every social developer should ask himself when creating a social platform. The questions are divined in the categories Core Needs, Core Social, Basic Behaviors, Motivators and Relationships.

Core Needs

These questions address the most basic elements of any service: what does it do it, for who, and how?
  • Need: what is the existing problem we are solving for people?
  • Segment: who really has this need (primary audience)?
  • Measurably better: how is our solution to the problem substantially better than current solutions people employ?

Core Social

Having very focused answers to these questions really matters. They attempt to address “what’s in it for me?” and why that brings people back.
  • Identity: do people’s contributions make them look good/better?
  • Connections: does using the product build deeper/better connections between people?
  • Daily engagement: what activity brings people back every day?
  • Reengagement: if people don’t come every day on their own, what brings them back?

Basic Behaviors

Have you considered how people generally behave and how your product accounts for or takes advantage of that?
  • Least resistance: is there an easy path to people’s goals?
  • Small commitments: how can initial commitments be small and scale up?
  • Reciprocity: is there a perceived sense of debt in the activities people are doing?
  • Bonding: is is possible for people to do things synchronously with others?
  • Dopamine Loop: what kinds of information can people find of interest to them?


These questions get you to think about the ways your product can encourage appropriate and valuable behavior from people.
  • Status: is there an ability to increase your standing among people?
  • Feedback Loops: how do people get responses to their actions?
  • Social proof: can people follow the lead of others to make decisions?
  • Sequencing: can activities be broken down into sequential goals or challenges?
  • Ownership bias: how much will people value their contributions?
  • Scarcity: is there limited availability that encourages people to take action?
  • Set completion: will people be able to create collections and curate them?


What kinds of relationships are you focusing on in your product?
  • Strong ties: how does the product allow people to interact with the closest 7 (or less) people to them?
  • Weak ties: how does the product allow people to interact with much more but less important connections?
I think this list is rather complete and could be used in various sessions during the social design process. Furthermore, it could be a really useful list of requirement for the client to see an online social platform isn’t just about connecting friends and/or colleagues. What are your thoughts on this list?