Keep 'The Streak' Going With Teens

Trying to convert teens from being occasional users into becoming dedicated regulars? It’s not that hard if you provide a small prize, or appeal to their sense of pride or friendly competition.

Nobody knows this better than Snapchat. According to Bustle, when the app updated its software in March 2016, it also included some new emoji “rewards.” If you’re looking at a list of your friends’ names in the app and see a flame next to them, it means that they’re on a "Snapstreak" or a number of consecutive days when they’ve exchanged snaps with a friend. And if your friend has kept a Snapstreak going for 100 days, the “100” emoji will appear next to that flame.

It takes two people to keep a Snapstreak going, and both must snap within a 24-hour period, or the streak dies. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, teens and young adults go to extreme lengths to keep their Snapstreaks going. If users accidentally let them die (or they perish for extraordinary reasons), Snapchat even restores their Snapstreak as a one-time courtesy.



These simple rewards, a flame emoji to indicate a streak and a “100” emoji to indicate a 100-day streak, are enough to inspire regular, almost obsessive, usage. The emojis serve as trophies, visible for friends to see. They show that somebody cares enough about that person to keep snapping with them for days on end. They indicate that the person values friendship and regular communication. And they show the person is diligent and responsible enough to always make sure to snap at least once every 24 hours.

Snapchat is just the latest app to incentivize daily usage. Five years ago, Foursquare was all the rage, and everybody was “checking in” wherever they went. The prizes were discounts, points, badges, and the chance to become “mayor” of a favorite location. Around the same time, Yahoo said that it was going to organize around “daily habits,” such as sending e-mail, and checking stocks, weather and sports scores. If you miss a day on Twitter, you might miss a major policy announcement from the leader of the free world. And miss a day on Facebook or LinkedIn, and you might miss a birthday, job change or other major life event or milestone of somebody in your network.

All of these are brilliant ways of turning already-additive apps into ones that require daily, if not hourly, attention. If you’re targeting teens and young adults as customers, consider adopting some of these best practices: 

* Adopt a daily “hook.” Provide something that requires teens to visit every day, whether it’s must-see news, a buzzworthy special, giveaways, or birthdays. There’s a reason why the latter are such a big deal on Facebook, and why the app makes it so easy to send birthday greetings.

* Provide ways to earn status. Something as simple as an emoji, a title or an upgraded level of service can serve as a powerful incentive. Perhaps you can even let your teen consumers pick the signifier that’s most meaningful to them, like choosing a game token in Monopoly.

* Offer points. Consider a points program where completing every small task earns the user a few points and those points can eventually be converted into status or real-world perks. These tend to be greater incentives than having one big sweepstakes, since everybody is guaranteed something for their effort (trophies for everybody!), and the legalities are much simpler. 

All of these are great ways to turn your teens into diehard users and fans, foster a fun sense of competition among their circle of friends, and provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. Every “streak” has to start sometime, so consider beginning yours today.

1 comment about "Keep 'The Streak' Going With Teens".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, June 7, 2017 at 1:19 p.m.

    These are still teens. Since so many have smartphones even beginning in elementary school, the average age of this cohort is skewing ever younger. Kids thsi age are fickle. How long can one expect them to stay interested and "engaged?" What is the definition of "dedicated regular" user? Is it realistic to expect leisure behavior, especially centered on the ephemeral, to extend into adulthood?

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