The Hook Model: How to Make Using a Product into a Habit
Key ideas collected from the book “Hooked”. Learn how to get someone into the habit of using your product or service.
I’ve reread the book “Hooked: how to build habit-forming products” by N.Eyal and R.Hoover and collected the key ideas from it in a single article. The book is about how to get someone into the habit of using a product or service. The authors call this the “hook model” and divide it into four phases:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these phases.
Triggers can be internal or external.
External triggers are agitators that contain a call to action. The most basic example is a push notification asking the user to rate a cab ride or respond to a message.
Internal triggers are tightly connected to people’s thoughts and feelings. For example, boredom could serve as a trigger for opening Facebook. These kinds of associations only appear after multiple repetitions of a certain sequence of actions. So the more a person uses a product, the more powerful the habit becomes.
In order for a trigger to lead to an action, the authors suggest adhering to the rule of “it’s easier to do than to think.” Social networks are quite advanced in this regard. It’s easier for us to tap a notification than to think about how much we actually care about it at that moment.
The authors indicates three motivators that increase the likelihood of performing an action:
1) obtaining pleasure or avoiding pain
2) obtaining hope or avoiding fear
3) obtaining social acknowledgment or avoiding social unacceptance
The goal of a reward is to satisfy people’s needs and encourage them to use the product again. The book describes three types of rewards.
- “Tribe rewards” that satisfy a need for social approval. These include likes, ratings, and statuses. For example, let’s say Medium calls me a top-notch writer in the design field, which motivates me to maintain this status (those artful manipulators!).
- “Hunt rewards” that satisfy the need to acquire material resources (casino, stock markets) or information (social media, news).
- “Self rewards” — internal rewards that satisfy a need for internal satisfaction derived from one’s own skill or the completion of a certain task. For example, these could include beating a video game or completing an educational course.
The more actions the user performs, the more powerful the habit becomes. Once you’ve uploaded your first photo to Instagram, you’re more likely to become a regular user. This happens for two reasons: 1) you will invest a tiny bit of personal information and 2) obtain a better understanding of how the service works (in other words, you’ll enact scenarios and take your first step towards forming a habit).
While reading the book, I started asking questions about the ethics of the model under discussion. But eventually I came to realize that the hook model can also be used for good. For example, it could be used to get people into the habit of educating themselves or being physically active. So the ethics of the methods described in the book depend on how they’re used.
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