Over the past 5 years, Pinterest grew from 20 million monthly active users to 200 million! Pinterest’s customer retention programs are focused on achieving growth and effective user retention. Long-term sustainable growth is related to healthy user retention. Most social media companies realise the value of long term retention management processes, and top social networking channels are no different.
Retention serves to create value and certain key tools instrumental in enhancing user retention are personalisation and fostering deeper connections. Whether the business is an early stage startup, or an established social media brand like Pinterest, user retention remains at the epicentre of growth. Twitter has also had to focus on user retention, as their user growth has plateaued post bulk user registrations.
- Understanding Customer Retention
Users are acquired through a variety of means either organic or paid, of which a percentage of users are retained in the long term and eventually go on to generate business revenue. User retention is at the heart of any company, including top social media brands. Increasing retention effectively lowers the cost to acquire a paying customer, increase lifetime value and ultimately raise overall revenue for the business.
The first thing social media platforms focus on is how to measure customer retention and what the retained user means for their business. For Pinterest, weekly active users serve as a measure of retention. For chat apps like Whatsapp, long-term customer retention programs need to focus on daily active users.
The next step is understanding the percentage of new users retained weeks and months post registration and how this is changing over time. This can be visualised using consumer retention graphs from top brands like Mixpanel. The user retention graph helps social media brands to understand the health of retention and where to focus on to improve client retention. For example, the retention curve needs to flatten out away from zero, long-term retentive services are being offered. Changes in retention across time also need to be recorded to identify the window of opportunity for effective customer retention.
- Learning From Retained Users
Social media channels also gain lessons from retained users, on how to make the onboarding process easy, understanding plus delivering on the intent of the user and more. Learning from retained users is the key here. Analysing retentive users can serve to create a magic moment with leading social media brands and that’s how top platforms like Facebook are thriving. Pathwwway Ltd. user research is at the core of social media brands today, because retained users can help these platforms learn what works and what does not. User research is vital for understanding exactly what users perceive in terms of value. User engagement data provides important insights at different stages of the customer journey.
- Studying User Engagement
As more user engagement data is acquired, one can historically study and identify which users are east to retain. Using this data helps in optimising social media solutions to guide more users to remain loyal to the brand and improve retention.
Identifying the core actions that would set retained users apart from those that leave social media sites midway is essential for effective customer retention programs. For Pinterest, this centres around viewing pages of Pins, clicks into Pins, Pins saved and Boards created. For each cohort of users, the percentage of users that engage with each action on social media matters. This can be perceived as the user’s journey towards retention. For each of the individual steps, the percentage of users retained are important.
Data needs to be used to prioritise feature development and validate the same through research. For example, there may be a large opportunity for Pinterest to get users to save at least one Pin based on user percentage and correlations to boost retention. Using this insight, social media brands provide the magic moments where the user realises core value and focuses on long-term brand advocacy.
- Predicting Retention Patterns
Customer retention programs for leading social media platforms focus on engagement in different ways. For example, Twitter could focus on tweet volumes, tweets per hour, interactions in terms of replies, favourites and mentions, degree of profile completion, positive or negative sentiment, ratio of tweets with self referencing pronouns, informational content, and more. For analysing the tweets themselves, the aim should be to study the topics, retweets, hashtag usage, level of tweet complexity, among others.
Reciprocity or the number of people who follow back, attention ratio in terms of total followers compared to total following and network overlap are the key to understanding successful retention patterns. For example Cornell University researchers found that making the tweets in line with prior messages and using headlines to communicate impacts sharing and user engagement.
- Redefining Customer Experience
With 900 users just a week after inception, Facebook hit a 100m users in 2008, 500m in 2010 and a billion in the year 2012. The numbers are expanding primarily because Facebook user retention is focused on what the social media community wants. Facebook has gone on to redefine the data-driven, product-driven approach for growth. Facebook has even tapped popular services like Messenger and created a separate app for these.
The company combines data science with empathetic understanding to retain customers in massive and phenomenal ways. Facebook has even allowed members to implement new languages, so language barriers don’t stand in the way of customer retention. Communities understand products exceptionally well. Facebook’s sign-up process is also unique, with a link to a contact importer first being propounded by them.
- Using Data-Driven Retention Strategies
Social media companies have also turned their attention to data. The focus is on tracking the flow of techniques to find, sign up and engage with new users, permitting the evaluation of customer retention programs on a granular level. Growth accounting has become valuable for effective customer retention management, whether it is in terms of customers retained or the churn of members.
- Going Mobile
Another essential social media retention tactic is to boost mobile technologies. For example, 200m individuals use Facebook Lite, a version for basic phones and sluggish networks. In 2011, Facebook even acquired Snaptu, a Facebook avatar for basic feature phones. This morphed into Facebook Lite, a minimalist version of the company’s growth strategy. Making Facebook retention a priority, the social media channel also utilises advanced technologies to stay ahead of the game.