Engineering Virality: How to Create Shareable Moments in Your App for Growth

By Trace Ronning | October 23, 2015

This post, written by John Michaeli from Medisafe, originally appeared on Mobile Heroes.

Unlike many of the mobile apps and games in the market today, we provide our app users with a service that they are less inclined to share with their friends. Our Medisafe mobile health app helps patients stay on top of all their medications – a private and personal piece of information that you’re unlikely to see in your friends’ news feeds anytime soon. Yet, like virtually all mobile startups, we cannot afford to strictly pay our way to the top.

When your mobile app core functionality doesn’t naturally lend itself to virality, like sharing medications, it’s critical to create shareable moments that your users will want to spread to their friends and extended network. That’s where the concept of “surprise and delight” comes in – providing unexpected pleasant experiences that our users want to share, and hence, market our app for us. No matter what app category you’re in, there are opportunities to gain virality. You just might need to work a bit harder, and most importantly, think even more creatively. Here are some tips on how to get started:

1) Create a Value Exchange

When you want people to proactively share something about your app on your behalf, you need to give them something of value in exchange. “Surprise and delight” is a subset of the value exchange.

For instance, our users are not always consistent about taking their medications on weekends. We can predict this, and instead of simply sending multiple notifications to the user, we will notify the caregiver if the user doesn’t comply after receiving 3 notifications. This creates a real value for the end user that goes above and beyond what you would expect from an app.

Another example: if a diabetic Medisafe user is doing a good job of taking their insulin regularly, but compliance to medications begins to decrease after they’ve started taking an additional medication, our app can recognize the change in patterns and notify the user or caregiver as a safety measure.

The key is to go beyond offering everyday value and create moments that genuinely surprise and delight your users.

2) Make Sharing Easy

Now that you’ve surprised and delighted your users with an experience that they want to share with their friends and network, make it incredibly easy to do so. The easier you make it for people to share, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow virally.

But, what content or experience can you create that is shareable? Is it simply sharing the app? At Medisafe, we focus on both shareable moments as well as specific product features.

For example, as part of the Medisafe app, we created “Medtones” – notification alerts spoken aloud by celebrity impersonators. For instance, users can have President Obama, Darth Vader, Dr. Evil, Austin Powers, Elsa or a Nagging Mom remind them about taking their medications. Given the popularity of our Medtones, we made the individual celebrity notifications shareable on Facebook, Twitter and other networks.

3) Brand Your Shareable Moments

Every time you create a shareable moment in your app, you create the opportunity for it to be shared through social media and gain new users in the process. It’s key to brand these shareable moments – whether it’s your logo, app store link, twitter handle, or hashtag – such that when your users share with their friends and network, new users learn about your app and know how to find it.

Engineering shareable moments should be a core aspect of your marketing and growth strategy. Enable your users to do the marketing for you – leverage their news feeds and networks – and you’ll be on your way to viral growth in no time.


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