Forum Participation And The Hooked Model

One of the highlights from ForumCon this year was the fascinating and engaging presentation by Nir Eyal. In Hooked: Harnessing the Power of Habit, Nir explained why certain technologies are habit forming and how to apply these concepts.

He noted that Facebook, Instagram, and other social media applications developed habit forming technologies. When they were introduced, these technologies did not address an existing pain in the traditional sense. Instead, they addressed an emotional need and, in turn, created a dependency among their users. “Habit is when not doing causes pain,” he said. Most people can relate to mindlessly checking Facebook on their phone, only to feel a shooting pain when their phone’s battery dies.

Nir explained that users can be hooked by crafting a user experience which cycles through four steps: Trigger, Action, Reward, and Investment. In the infographic below, we put the Hooked Model into the context of forum software.

The Hooked Model Applied to Forum Software

* External Triggers may include: ** Internal Triggers may include:
  • Link/advert on main site
  • Email Alert
  • Search engine result
  • Bored
  • Curious
  • Seeking connection

Internal triggers are more powerful than external triggers. But before tapping into internal triggers, forum owners typically need to activate an external trigger first. In a successful use-case scenario for an end user, external triggers eventually give way to internal triggers as the user becomes more deeply embedded in the community.

The Hooked Model explains why we at Ninja Post have put such emphasis on making the user participation rate as high as possible. Making forum software fun and easy to use, and rewarding users for their contributions, instills habits among individual users. When the habits of these individual users combine, a powerful network effect occurs which in turn creates more and more powerful hooks to attract new users keep existing users engaged.

The slides from Nir’s talk are included below.

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