The necessary first step towards building a community: single user value proposition


This is the era of social networks. From sharing photos to collaborative learning to seeking jobs, social is the way to be. Facebook has been at the very centre of unleashing the social animal within us. However, it does not mean we are any less acquainted with LinkedIn. With business communications at the very core of its very existence, LinkedIn has become our go-to site for any professional accolade. What is very clear here is they both have built their very own communities, and a user may be a part of both the communities. But both networks have leveraged very different user behavior and communication. We have already started seeing the growth of many vertical networks that have risen out of certain professional needs. Then there are niche communities coming up for activities such as dating, marriage, fitness, and fashion.

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Building a community has its own quirks. It cannot happen overnight. For example, Facebook did not register 2 billion users overnight. It had gone through the same phases.

One of the biggest challenges anyone faces is communicating the value proposition because it is often niche and not everybody is a target customer. Hence, there is an ardent need for a hook, a hook that retains your user base. It is known as a single user value proposition.

What is a single user value proposition?

Single user value proposition is a value that your product gives to a user without the viral element. It almost acts as a different product altogether. This is the very first step in community building. At this phase, interaction don’t happen a lot. Hence, there must be a value akin to your single user value proposition that can retain users till the time critical mass is reached. This is the phase where staying up on your feet and staying relevant is more important than creating impact. It might appear counter intuitive that communities built to leverage interactions between users should have single user utility. But more often than not, it is required.

Facebook’s initial single user value was to play the game – “hot or not”. Twitter started as a system where you could send an SMS to one number and it would be broadcasted out to all of your friends.

One of the best examples of a single user value proposition are Instagram filters. The idea of taking your photo, making it look awesome and sharing it with your friends at one go really caught the imagination of the social animals. It really propelled Instagram to great heights.

Hike tried to achieve something similar in India. A messaging platform for connecting people, introduced news and hike stickers. The stickers were creative, humorous and filmy while the news was, well, just news, just like how every Indian likes it. Hike couldn’t compete with WhatsApp in messaging, but it did make news with its stickers.

Identifying a single user value proposition

Selecting a single value proposition is often an outcome of rigorous A/B testing, analysing data and pivoting wherever data takes you. Gut feeling counts little here. The trick here is to keep your single user value akin and in sync with your value proposition. Obviously, it might mean that you will be fighting it out with products of different categories. But that is the risk one should be willing to take.

Marketing a Single User Value Proposition

Marketing a single user value based product is easy. It goes through the same growth funnel like a new product and optimised at every step leveraging data and user behavior. These users are the early adopters. Hence, you should be spending your marketing budget to keep them coming back for more.

A word of caution though, these early adopters of your app are not there for the value proposition of your product but for the single user utility. They are there not for the network that you are trying to build but for what you give them as an individual.

Now the next step is crucial. On one hand, you need to focus on retaining existing users, on the other, you need to leverage these early adopters and gain new users for your product. Climb one step at a time.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)