Here we discuss useful community features that might help non-social apps — e.g. a delivery app, a fitness app, maps, photo editors, reading, and music apps. Such features are not only an essential part of social networks and some marketplaces but also can be useful for other businesses in app user engagement and retention, forming loyalty, and boosting word-of-mouth marketing.
Community (or social) features are those that make your app a platform for interactions among your audience. The fact that your users meet each other in your mobile app makes them a community — they share a common interest in using your product.
A great example of when an app became almost a religion for its users is the fitness app Strava. This turned out to be an incredible success for the platform. It still is among the top apps in the Health and Fitness category in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, and etc.
Here are some of Strava community features:
- personal tracking of a number of figures;
- ability to follow and observe how famous athletes are training;
- groups (or clubs);
- heat map — to see the activity zones of other runners or riders;
- and much more.
Starter pack: simple features to add
1. User profiles
Remember how some apps and websites encourage us to fill our profiles? The more developed your users’ profiles are the more trustworthy your app appears. Also, by adding their personal information to the account, users provide you with valuable data that help you better understand them.
2. Social media integration
What to add to your community engagement app:
- quick and easy login and signup through existing social media profiles.
- motivation for the users to link their other social media profiles.
How you benefit: receive insights from users’ profiles — pictures, likes, interests.
Give your users an opportunity to speak, clarify something or solve problems they face within your app by discussing it in comments with other users or with your employees.
How you benefit: from their opinion you can learn what they are interested in and what to change.
4. Push notifications
They help to return users to your app when it is closed.
Through notifications tell users about updates on likes, followers, comments. Your company’s news, useful tips, what it is time to do in your app, their statistics, and achievements in the app.
Add an opportunity of custom notification. Not only «turn on», «turn off». For example, they do not want to receive notifications about discounts but would be happy to know their order status or when their favourite blogger added a new podcast.
5. «Share with friends»
- Add easily visible buttons for sharing your app through the most popular social networks.
- Reward them for bringing a friend. Example: Uber Eats offers $5 credit for a successful referral.
6. Ability to «follow» other app users
How you benefit: Connecting users to each other, you increase their visits to your app. They will be interested to check other users’ updates. And, certainly, you get additional information on how they know each other.
Examples from the photo editor VSCO and the service for managing a reading list — Pocket. The second even offers a reward for adding friends (not the same as “share with friends”) and provides you with a set of famous pages you may be interested to follow.
6. Newsfeed to increase app user engagement
If users can follow each other and share content, you need a feed with news they can read, like, save, share. Example from VSCO:
Extra app user engagement
1. There is a set of community features that can be called by the magic word «gamification».
Here is how it works. Imagine you have a time-management app. You award users with a new level, bonuses or badges for regular check-ins or completion of certain tasks. At the same time, you have the rating of all users that shows the leaders thus encouraging competition. All these features are usually a part of a game but may be additionally added to your platform to get some benefits.
Awards and badges in popular apps:
2. User groups
Separate users by their interests. You can let them divide into groups themselves or use imbedded separation. Such groups represent certain topics related to your platform.
For instance, you have healthy food delivery. So you probably can divide people by various diets. They will discuss recipes or life hacks while you will always be there to offer fresh products for healthy dishes.
To prove that groups really work we go back to Strava. Those users who belong to clubs upload their activities three times more often than non-members.
Pro-level: create a separate community app
Sometimes medium or large brands realize they need one more app for communication and social interactions with their customers and among them. The reasons differ from company to company, but they are almost the same as the reasons for implementing community features. They include quick user feedback, control, higher loyalty, and, as a result, word-of-mouth marketing.
Let’s look at one of the examples.
Target is an American retail corporation. In 2016 they built a community app Studio Connect. It is a closed group of devoted customers, limited to 600 carefully selected members. For their participation, these customers are rewarded with discounts and gift cards. What’s more — the company admits fans to preview, gives them a chance to try and give feedback on new clothing lines before they are launched.
Target in its turn gets a space where their designers can ask questions to the audience and get 40-50 responses within 24 hours. The app simply saves weeks of time for user research. At the same time, participants feel valued because they have a real influence on their favourite brand.
The company gets a perfect instrument for fast and quality user insights.
A simple scheme of how community features benefit you:
The scale of your creativity depends in your business segment but do not limit yourself to only comments as a community feature. Try to pay attention to various community solutions while using different apps yourself.
We aren’t saying that adding these features will make your users spend hours in your app and attract their friends and relatives. Chances are, but to make sure in addition to the best mobile app developers and designers you need consultations of marketing and community manager.