Those of you who follow my personal blog already know that I am a fan of Joshua Porter and his Bokardo blog. I particular enjoyed the post from his archives where he discusses the usage lifecycle of a social web user. Today I would like to augment his excellent post with some additional thoughts.
The Interested user powers the social web. This possibility may be counterintuitive to most web site operators who have spent the last several years of their lives converting people into registered users. The reality on the social web is that only Interested and “Repeat” First Time users who are engaged with your web property are ever going to convert into Regular Users. From a social perspective, Regular Users are your “Mavens” or “Connectors” who have the highest probability for promoting your site, product, or service. They can move people from Unaware to Interested using simple tools like email, “share” buttons, etc. You can give them a lot more power than that, though, by enabling them to use their social connections to move people directly to the First-time User stage. Then, through repeated “First-time” use, you can increase the likelihood that that First-time User converts into a regular user. The key to this process is moving the “sign-up” stage to a later step in the process.
We all use gas stations or some similar service where the perceived value is pretty uniform and where there are a lot of places to go get the product or service. If you move to a new town and had to fill out an application form at every gas station, would you?
Along those lines, people who arrive at your web site via a social referral are basically arriving with an engraved invitation from the Maven or Connector in your community. They expect a key to the city, not a gate. In the best case, the Interested user has many of these invitations and would like to use each one to learn more about the product or service you provide. My advice: Let them. Use the social technology available today to welcome them with open arms and increase the chances that each and every one of those “Repeat First-time Users” will reach out to more and more of their friends, family, and colleagues to draw more and more of them in.