How to make your product downright infectious.

Steinar Engeland

Last week, we talked about the viral coefficient of a product and why it’s so important to growth. ☣📈

Viral growth is to your business as spinach is to… yeah, you get it

That’s all well and good, but the mere fact that it’s important doesn’t actually help us much. What we really need to know is how to influence the viral coefficient. 🤔

To do this, we need to incentivize users to send more referrals and make it easy for recipients of those referrals to accept them. There are a number of approaches to this, but the best place to start is with the product itself.

1. Build Virality Into the Product

Perhaps the most effective way to increase the viral coefficient of a product is to design the product itself around the concept — or at least, to incorporate the concept early on in the product design phase.

Virality is inside the product… 🙃

In best case scenarios, the product works better for users when more people sign on. Similar to the “network effect,” a classic examples of this is Snapchat: Snapchat is plainly more fun to use if your friends are on it, which incentivizes users to invite their friends to join the service.

To apply this to your own product, think about ways you can build an incentive to invite new users into the product itself. In a game, this may look like adding social features, competitive scoreboards, or cooperative gameplay, while in a productivity or business app, collaboration may be a powerful angle.

The “right” answer will change for every product, but the lesson is to think about viral coefficient early on in product design.

2. Social Integration

Another powerful way to improve viral coefficient is to just make it easier for users to invite people. One of the most effective ways to do this is social integration.

Linking your product to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks can allow users to invite friends directly through those networks, making the process easy and painless. That’s important, because the easier it is for users to invite people to the product, the more likely they are to do it.

Enabling social sign-ons is another great option for this, as it also makes it easier for invited users to accept the invitation and give your product a try.

3. Double-Sided Incentives

Finally, a good old fashioned bribe never hurt nobody. 💸💸💸

Many apps have used incentives to increase viral coefficient, and it’s often a highly effective technique.

These incentives may be monetary— as they are in the case of Groupon — or they may be housed within the product itself. For example, a game may offer users an extra life if they invite one friend to start playing, or it may make special content available after a user invites 10 friends.

Importantly, the incentive should be double-sided: both the existing user and the invited user should gain something from the invitation. This ensures that users feel like they’re doing a favor to the people they invite instead of just getting something for themselves at a friend’s expense, which will make them more likely to send invitations.

Start Thinking About Viral Coefficient Early On

The correct method for boosting viral coefficient will vary from product to product, but what’s important is to start thinking about it as early in the process as possible.

The more you can build virality into the structure and mechanics of the product instead of just tacking it on as an afterthought, the more viral growth you’ll experience.

Ideally, virality isn’t just a marketing tactic you use to bring users to your product — it’s embedded into the very DNA of the product itself.

If you like what you’re reading, please do consider clicking that little 💚 at the bottom and the “follow” button on top. And if you want to dive deeper into what it takes to develop and launch a product, the team at Rootstrap has created a set of e-courses to help you do just that.

Truthfully, we believe that if you want something bad enough and have the right tools, you can accomplish anything. These courses — and our whole business model — are designed to help you get there.


CEO and Co-founder of Neon Roots

Ben Lee is the co-founder and CEO of Neon Roots, a digital development agency with a mission to destroy the development model and rebuild it from the ground up. After a brief correspondence with Fidel Castro at age nine, Ben decided to start doing things his own way, going from busboy to club manager at a world-class nightclub before he turned 18. Since then, Ben has founded or taken a leading role in 5 businesses in everything from software development to food and entertainment.