Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal

Writes about products that move people. Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 28, 2015

Discussion

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
Hi, I’m Nir. I write for TechCrunch, Forbes, Psychology Today, and am a frequent speaker at industry conferences and Fortune 500 companies. I’m the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and I have Lectured at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design School and have sold two technology companies since 2003. For most of my career I’ve worked in the video gaming and advertising industries where I learned, applied, and at times rejected, the techniques used to motivate and manipulate users. I write to help companies create behaviors that benefit their users, while educating people on how to build healthful habits in their own lives. As an active angel investor, I put my money where my mouth is by backing habit-forming products I believe improve lives. Some of my past investments include: Eventbrite, Product Hunt, Symphony Commerce, Pantry, Refresh.io, Presence Learning, and 7 Cups of Tea. Although I received most of my education earning an advanced degree from the The School of Hard Knocks, I also received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Happy to be answering your questions today, so fire away!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@nireyal Go Nir!!! My question: what's the mistake companies most commonly make when trying to apply the hooked model to their product?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@davidspinks Not reading my book first :) I'm only half joking. I'm often called-in for expensive consulting sessions that could have accomplished the same thing if the attendees had just bothered to do the exercises in the book. I wrote Hooked to be a very efficient read that any time-starved entrepreneur can work through in a few hours. I'm not trying to sell more books here (I only make a few bucks per book), rather I'm hoping to save people countless hours and dollars by helping them build the right products sooner instead of just guessing what they should build. Thanks for the question.
Tony Xiao
Tony Xiao@tony_xiao · Product Guy
@nireyal @davidspinks If you were only half joking, then what about the other half of the answer? :)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Nir! Awesome to have you on LIVE. You write a lot about how an understanding of psychology can help people build more engaging, habit-forming products, but you also talk about the dangers and responsibility in doing so. Technology is becoming increasingly part of our life, especially as it literally changes the way we see the world (Google Glass may have failed but something like it is inevitable... we are becoming cyborgs). There's a blurring of lines between building a habit-forming, engaging product and one that is manipulative. How do you balance this and what advice do you have for morally-sound makers?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@rrhoover This is a topic I care about deeply and I've written about the "morality of manipulation" quite a bit, both on my blog and in Hooked. I think user ethics is something the tech industry is not thinking about nearly enough. In a nut shell, I think there are 3 parties involved when we consider the role of persuasive technology in our lives... 1. The Maker - the people who actually make the products that change our behavior. For them, I offer the the "Manipulation Matrix" see: http://www.nirandfar.com/2012/07... ... I also like The Silver Rule, "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you", credited to Hillel the Elder, HT @NathalieNahai 2. The Corporation - the businesses who create the workplaces and connect to end users. I'd like to see companies adopt a "“Use and Abuse Policy,” which I describe in this essay, "Is Some Tech Too Addictive?" http://www.nirandfar.com/2014/06... 3. The User - that's all of us! We also have a role to play in making sure tech doesn't control us. This video I call, "UnHooked: Increasing Focus in the Age of Distraction" gives a recipe for putting technology in its place, see: http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/06...
Dan Gray
Dan Gray@dan_e_gray · Minimum Viable Person
@nireyal I was going to ask something similar - great answer!
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@nireyal Hello Nir. Thanks for doing this AMA. I'm a huge fan of your book..loved it! Do you have some examples of the Hooked model that aren't related to tech/startups? I'm interested to know how non-tech companies are using your model.
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@erictwillis Thanks for the question and the kind words. I've worked with several companies in healthcare who are looking for ways to increase patient adherence. Countless lives could be improved if people formed habits around taking their medication or using a health device as prescribed. Unfortunately, despite the fact that these patients overwhelmingly want to do these behaviors, they don't. Until now, the healthcare industry has blamed the patients themselves - "they're lazy, dumb, or unmotivated!" they say. NOT TRUE! Non-adherence turns out to be a design problem and using the principles I discuss in my book we can help people do things they want to do (but don't) by designing better products. These solutions are often shockingly low-tech - effective triggers and easier actions, as opposed to building fancy new technology.
Eric Willis
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@nireyal Awesome. Thanks!
Andrea Hill
Andrea Hill@afhill · Founder, Frameplay Consulting LLC
@nireyal @erictwillis the applications of 'hooked' are fascinating in the public health space. It's one thing for a habit to be related to entertainment, and a completely different one when it can be literally a matter of life and death. If the gravity of the impact of not adopting of the behavior isnt enough to force the change, what else can you do to see compliance?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@afhill That's just the thing, the fact that people don't take their meds even when they want to is a testament to how much opportunity is still left in healthcare and how poorly designed most of these interventions are.
Andreas Klinger
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
@nireyal how was working with @rrhoover on Hooked for you? Horrible isn't it?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@andreasklinger As I wrote in the acknowledgements section of Hooked, "The world will be hearing a lot from Ryan Hoover some day." NAILED IT!! I'm proud to have worked with him before he got famous :)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
LOL! Thanks for the kind words, @nireyal, but more importantly, the opportunity to help you with the book. I've learned a lot and applied your research and writing to Product Hunt. 😘 (yes, I used the kiss emoji)
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
Hi Nir Thanks for doing this! You talk a lot about Internal Triggers and how oftentimes, negative internal triggers are extremely powerful (like fear, uncertainty, loneliness, etc.). How does a product reach those internal triggers or how can a product get designed/optimized on a trigger point (or is just natural from what problem the product is solving)? Google is used when people are unsure, but I can’t think of a way to optimize for that internal trigger, other than the fact that it’s what the product does.
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@sydney_liu_sl There are many techniques to finding your user's internal triggers (5 whys, narratives, etc.) and I discuss a few in Hooked. Remember, we don't make internal triggers! These emotional needs are core to being human. Feelings of loneliness, fear, uncertainty, etc. are age-old problems and it's our job to solve them with our products. The goal of a habit-forming product is to be associated with solving a frequent pain-point by attaching to an internal trigger.
Rodrigo Prior
Rodrigo Prior@rodrigoprior · CEO @ Welearn
Hi Nir! Great to see you here... What do you think about the cumulative effect of lots of apps and services triggering and manipulating habits of users in a long term view? What will happen when it turns to not so healthful states? Can it compromise our interpersonal relationships permanently? Thank you ;-)
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@rodrigoprior Thanks for the question. I think the idea that technology is somehow melting our brains is widely exaggerated and inaccurate. For one, habit-forming technology is nothing new - I'd rather people communicate with friend over Facebook than stare at another sports game on TV. Second, by and large technology has connected us together and enhanced our relationships. Third, though there are clearly negative aspects of technology, I think the solution is (surprise!) more technology! Many people struggle (me included) with too much tech but there are a host of new products to help us, see "Latest Tech Trends: Products to Eliminate Distractions and Increase Willpower" http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/02... Also, see this talk about how to break unwanted Hooks: http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/06... I think winding back the hands of progress is impossible, but we can learn how to control technology and not allow it to control us.
Rodrigo Prior
Rodrigo Prior@rodrigoprior · CEO @ Welearn
@nireyal Thank you very much ;-)
Milly Toovey
Milly Toovey@millytoovey · BOOMCAST
@rodrigoprior Great question. @nireyal great answer! I also wonder this!! It pains me to see how the masses have become so self-obsessed and that people would rather take a selfie than a story of someone who's improving the world. I'm trying to change that with Boomcast and using "Hooked" as my bible. Cheers!
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@nireyal I need to sign off now but thanks for the great questions! I'll check in a little later and answer as many as I can get to. Thanks you again!
Ivana Breček
Ivana Breček@ibrecek · CMO, Creative director
@nireyal Hi Nir! Thank you for helping us all with your advices :) As you were working in gaming industry I have a gaming related question. I am a cofounder of a gaming company that enables people to earn mony from organizing eSports tournaments or competing in them. We are starting the beta in a couple of days with making some tournaments. And I would like you give me an advice about how to spread the word about our platform and get gamers to stick and tell their friends? Thank you :)
Dan Gray
Dan Gray@dan_e_gray · Minimum Viable Person
@ibrecek Hey Ivana! I work in marketing & community management and have experience with competitive gaming audiences - I'd be happy to throw around some ideas. Drop me a DM!
Ivana Breček
Ivana Breček@ibrecek · CMO, Creative director
@dan_e_gray Thank you :) I send you a DM. @nireyal still would love to hear your opinion about this.
Joshua Bright
Joshua Bright@joshua_d_bright · Product Manager
@nireyal Thanks for doing the AMA. What do you think of the history of hooks being used within software and what trends do you foresee in the future?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@joshua_d_bright The highlight of my past few years has been seeing companies apply the Hook Model to their businesses. I've seen it happen with my consulting clients but also with companies I've never been affiliated with but where the founders, employees and sometimes users, have come up with significant improvements to drive engagement. Some notable examples include Product Hunt (of course), Meerkat, 7 Cups of Tea and others. As for upcoming trends, I'm very interested to see what's next in the assistant-as-app space, see "Why ‘Assistant-As-App’ Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend" http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/07...
Joshua Bright
Joshua Bright@joshua_d_bright · Product Manager
@nireyal Thank you!
jan
jan@frytweets
@nireyal How long until Product Hunt has an 'Assistant-As-App' feature? ;) Approved set of Hunters who specialise in particular industries. "Hello @rrhoover, I'm looking for a product that does X, can you suggest any?" "Certainly, I recommend Y and Z. Here are the collections Y and Z have been featured in." And so on and so forth.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@frytweets we have something coming that might solve that exact use case, but not in the same way. 😀
jan
jan@frytweets
@rrhoover Why does that not surprise me? 😁 Look forward to see it!
Yusuf Parak
Yusuf Parak@deleted-147931
Hi Nir! Massive fan of your book and blog! I've just started creating a product (more of a side project) in the education space where user retention levels are extremely poor with many users 'dropping out' of courses. What would your advice be to products in this sector and how can triggers (or different techniques) be used to create an engaging product, when all the user wants to do is quit as times get rough? Much Love from South Africa!
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@yusufparak14 Make your product hard to stop using! See how Minerva is doing it in the education space, see: http://www.inc.com/nir-eyal/what...
Charles Vinette
Charles Vinette@charlesvinette · Founder, @appandflow
Hi M.Eyal, I was waiting for this PHLive session! Do you think that the advancing in wearables (Android Wear, Apple Watch...) will have a significant impact on the model? In what ways? Thanks!
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@charlesvinette Smart watches have disappointed (as I suspected they would, see: http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/04...) but I think they'll go mainstream in the next 5 years. The killer app for the smart watch will be a camera that makes it easier to take pics with your watch than the phone. I think wearables will open up all sorts of new habit-forming opportunities by increasing developers ability to send well-timed triggers and making the action phase of the Hook easier.
Kyle Kahveci
Kyle Kahveci@kylekahveci · Product Manager, Founder
@nireyal Hey Nir - do you trick your brain into doing things that are healthier than the alternative "product"? e.g. using a brain training app vs. an addicting game, or working out vs. checking email in the morning.
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@kylekahveci I do use "temptation bundling" to help me lift weights. I listen to my Pocket articles when in the gym.
Kyle Kahveci
Kyle Kahveci@kylekahveci · Product Manager, Founder
@nireyal Thanks - I like the idea of temptation bundling (will brainstorm). I was doing podcasts while working out and I think Pocket text-to-speech offers more targeted content overall. Come back in a few months and I'll be an expert on a few new things.
Andrea Hill
Andrea Hill@afhill · Founder, Frameplay Consulting LLC
Hey Nir - Can or should a product try to incorporate multiple types of variable rewards, or is it better to focus on one based on your specific target audience? I.e. does it hurt you to incorporate incentives that may not resonate with some users?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@afhill Good question. It's very rare that a product can uses all 3 variable rewards types - although the ones that do are very sticky - email for example. It's best to nail at least one variable reward type and then consider which of the other 2 you might be able to incorporate in ways you (or your competition) hadn't considered.
Artem Zarubin
Artem Zarubin@tema_zarubin · CEO, reLock
@nireyal like your book! Is any chance for next one? I want to ask— do you know any hardware product with strong and solid loop? How to build it for hw? Thank you!
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@tema_zarubin What would you like my next book to be about?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@tema_zarubin As for hardware, look no further than the iPhone! Perfect Hook!
Artem Zarubin
Artem Zarubin@tema_zarubin · CEO, reLock
@nireyal Mmm... Maybe, about building community around product and recurring business-model.
Alexandre Marcondes
Alexandre Marcondes@arlm · Android & iOS Developer
@nireyal For me it would be great to have a book on engagement, like Hook, but with emphasis on learning.
Sanchit Khera
Sanchit Khera@sanchitkhera7 · Digital Marketing
How would you create the perfect ad for a product
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@sanchitkhera7 The perfect ad is word of mouth
Dan Gray
Dan Gray@dan_e_gray · Minimum Viable Person
@nireyal Hi Nir!! I read and loved Hooked. For a book about 'building products' it has fantastic depth. What other books you would recommend? Not necessarily product/startup oriented, perhaps something more philosophical and off the beaten path?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@dan_e_gray Here's are a few of my favorites: http://behavioraldesigninstitute...
Sam Yue Yew
Sam Yue Yew @sam9748 · Postgrad Student
@nireyal what would be the top 3 industries ready for disruption ?
kissingsky
kissingsky@kissingsky
@nireyal most of the time you talk about building up habits. what about leaving the bad habit? what are the best techniques to get rid of bad habits?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@kissingsky Read this "Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong" http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/04...
dheerja
dheerja@dheerja · Head of Product, theSkimm
Hi Nir! Thanks for doing this, I'm a big fan. What are some of the apps that have launched in the past year that have applied the hooked model in an interesting way?
Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@dheerja I'm closely watching the assistant-as-app space where I've worked with a few companies on their hooks: http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/07...