The critical importance of profiles on social media apps

We’ve all been there, a cool new social media app or online service. Maybe a chance to gather some knowledge or insights, do something creative. So you go to sign-up. You get those options…Facebook, Twitter or Google or create your own with an email. And this is where the trouble starts. And where very few apps realize they’re losing a lot of traffic right from the very start. I’ve consulted on this with more than a few startups and it’s an easy fix…if you pay attention to a little personal detail at the start.
The profile is where it all starts
It is an easy assumption to think that someone will want to just use their Twitter, Facebook or Google, LinkedIn etc,, profile to register for your really awesome app/tool/service. Actually, it’s an assumption that is partially correct.
Humans (stop saying “users”) make use of different apps/tools online for different reasons. While it may be easy to use their Twitter, Google or Facebook account to register for an app or service, it’s likely they’ll want to make changes later.
In research I did with several startups, we found that about 82% of humans on the site changed their profile picture where they could from that of the service they used to register. I also found that they would tweak their profile details to better suit what they wanted to present themselves as after sign-up.
We see ourselves in different ways
The assumption is often made that if a person has a Twitter or Facebook etc., profile, that they want to be seen that way across all platforms. They don’t. People will adapt their profile based on two factors; 1) how they perceive the platform in terms of the value it delivers to them and 2) how they perceive themselves in their activities on the platform.
For instance, using LinkedIn they may see as being their “workforce” to the world, how they may want a potential employer or prospect to see them. On Reddit, they may use sub-reddits for personal purposes such as their hobby, where they are less formal. Twitter may be a different form of engagement altogether as well.
Understanding our tribal mentality
People behave as differently in online communities as they do in real-world communities. A person will have their family persona, work persona and community persona. If they’re active in community groups, they’ll behave and present themselves in a different way than with their own family.
This is why it’s important to understand that the profile section you create in your app or service is actually quite important. Give registrants, i.e. humans, the ability to feel connected with your app in the way they perceive it to be and want to be perceived and you’ll see higher engagement and return rates. Which of course, leads to whatever you want your funnel outcomes to be.
In other words, humans are all very different. Give some latitude and you’ll find quite a difference. Don’t enable profile changes? Do so at the risk of alienating your users and limiting growth.

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