A growth hacking exercise for Unii.com

Now retired…

While student social networking app unii.com appears to have been retired, it’s sister app Fling which is like random-Snapchat-with-strangers is going strong. Here anyhow is my exercise for Unii from Feb 2015, just before I landed the growth role at Causeway Technologies.

Q: Having our target audience in mind please come up with 4 growth hacking ideas that are low cost, easy to implement, and do not require big changes to the product.

Growth hack idea #1: Acquisition
To use online student community thestudentroom.co.uk and target applicants via an email campaign, so connecting with around 45,000 Year 13 students that are discussing about going to university, and use that to build a community on Facebook. This campaign can include tips on how to sign up to unii with email, through to advice on surviving Freshers’ Week. Metrics would include email open rates, and engagement on Facebook Page for example.

Growth hack idea #2: Acquisition
Implement a referral campaign on select campuses to test its success and monitor performance, with online and offline integration, to assist the promotion of the referral campaign. Ideally using existing college ‘influencers’ to promote this, with the value of each sign in terms of lifetime value underpinning the costing of the campaign. Online this might involve adding a referral link/icon within the app itself so users can easily and predictably find the referral program, for example in the Settings section.

Growth hack idea #3: Retention
Word of mouth is key to successful student marketing, simply because students see each other often, they always need new topics of conversation, which is itself a great built in engine for retention to be harnessed. Therefore I suggest creating a weekly email which gathers together a digest of the most noteworthy topics of conversation, making full use of wider trending content from across universities, to help inspire conversations within each campus, repacked as ‘Rumours’ to add a touch more social networking virality. This digest can be highlighted in either a push notification or a post within the app, whichever is proven to be more effective in terms of improving retention rates.

Growth hack idea #4: Retention
I believe there is existing functionality so that members can create their own groups of members. I would suggest removing the duplicate Favourite links, currently there is both an icon and link from ‘Favourites’ and use the space for a Group icon/link. Therefore when a student accesses their notifications they can click on anyone who has favourited a post, and add them to a custom group. Call them ‘Cliques’ to add a bit of competitive social gamesmanship, helping create word of mouth about whether you are part of a student’s ‘Clique’ on campus. Metrics wise, clique creation would also help identify social influencers on campus, in terms of who is the member of the most number of cliques.

Your Friends Are More Interesting Than You On Average

The Friendship Paradox

Feld’s friendship paradox states that ‘your friends have more friends than you, on average’. This paradox arises because extremely popular people, despite being rare, are overrepresented when averaging over friends.

Using a sample of the Twitter firehose, we confirm that the friendship paradox holds for >98% of Twitter users. Because of the directed nature of the follower graph on Twitter, we are further able to confirm more detailed forms of the friendship paradox: everyone you follow or who follows you has more friends and followers than you.This is likely caused by a correlation we demonstrate between Twitter activity, number of friends, and number of followers.

But wait, there’s more..

In addition, we discover two new paradoxes: the virality paradox that states ‘your friends receive more viral content than you, on average’, and the activity paradox, which states ‘your friends are more active than you, on average’. The latter paradox is important in regulating online communication. It may result in users having difficulty maintaining optimal incoming information rates, because following additional users causes the volume of incoming tweets to increase super-linearly. (And this also may relate to why in large complex communities personalized moderation works better than community moderation, as explored in my last blog post).

While users may compensate for increased information flow by increasing their own activity, users become information overloaded when they receive more information than they are able or willing to process. We compare the average size of cascades that are sent and received by overloaded and underloaded users. And we show that overloaded users post and receive larger cascades and they are poor detector of small cascades.

What are the dangers of overload?

Those users who become overloaded, measured by receiving far more incoming messages than they send out, are contending with more tweets than they can handle. Controlling for activity, they are more likely to participate in viral cascades, likely due to receiving the popular cascades multiple times. Any individual tweet’s visibility is greatly diluted for overloaded users, because overloaded users receive so many more tweets than they can handle. Because of the connection between cognitive load and managing information overload, the present results suggest that users will dynamically adjust their social network to maintain some optimal individual level of information flux. (What does this mean for Facebook’s growth?)

Friendship Paradox Redux: Your Friends Are More Interesting Than You – Nathan O. Hodas, Farshad Kooti, Kristina Lerman (PDF of the paper)