Why Friends Mean Power for Today’s Mobile Apps

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Did you know most apps lose within a month? This is not a new statistic, but the response has evolved. Sure, app retention rates have always been abysmal. Push notifications, email marketing and retargeting were once seen as quick fixes, but the last year has shown a consistently successful method to increase app usage and engagement: going social.

In 2016, the term “social” may feel like an outdated buzzword uttered by the ghosts of tech past, like Farmville, but social continues to pay off in dynamic new ways. Social means creating connections among people, which in turn attracts quality users and bestows inherent virality.

The Power of Network Effects

Traditionally, the concept of network effects is defined as a situation where a service, or product (e.g. app) becomes more valuable as more people use it. Every time a new user signs up for an app, it increases the value for all users and fosters a stronger sense of community.

Creating a social graph in the app, where users can view and connect with friends, is one way to harness the power of network effects and increase the stickiness of the app. The quantity and quality of connections creates a lock-in effect for the user. For example, if a person uses a sports app and is able to connect with ten of their closest friends, then they’re less likely to switch to a competitor app that doesn’t yet have that social graph with their connections.

These ten friends are meaningful reasons to come back to the app over and over again, creating a strong virtuous loop that drives product growth.

The ability to check out their achievements, likes, and comments, reels the user back in, while encouraging them to invite more friends to join the app. The more actively engaged friends a user has, the better the overall experience.

One app tapping into the advantages of network effects to improve the user experience is the giant dating app, Tinder. last week that it’s testing a new social feature that automatically displays which Facebook friends are also using the app. The new “friend-finding” feature called Tinder Social offers users a new shared experience that could ultimately drive more users and growth for the company.

This concept of creating a more “network-centric” experience for users in order to create strong virtuous loops is something we’ve seen many vertical social networks doing to improve user retention and drive growth.

, the song identifying app, announced social features to transition the experience from “pure discovery” to “shared discovery,” enabling artists to share music with their followers.

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, the insanely popular trivia game app, introduced true social functionality on a core level. With the features released in May, users can view other users’ profiles, check out their interests, follow them, play against them, send direct messages, or find a specific type of user through the people search.


, the reading app, rolled out a recommendation feature in December, that enables users to follow friends, tastemakers, and the writers and editors behind the stories, to see what they publicly recommend. These curated stories add a layer of trust and relevance to the app experience. When someone you know and trust recommends an article, you are more likely to read it.

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In 2016, the term “social” has evolved to mean creating a network of your own, connecting users inside the app’s landscape. Retention, engagement and virality still come down to network effects: If I am connected to my friends, I will come back frequently, and engage with more content. “Social” is not just a buzzword. Turning apps into social products is a proven, viable way to create value for both the app developer and the end user.

Tapglue was created as a way to add social features to your app almost instantly, encouraging users to signup and return daily (even hourly). If you’re looking to turn your app into a social network and make it hard for your users to leave your app, then schedule a demo with us today!