A successful app creates a “persistent routine” or behavioral loop. The app both triggers a need and provides the momentary solution to it.
Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation. Gradually, these bonds cement into a habit as users turn to a product when experiencing certain internal triggers.
Instagram is a habit-forming product. Users make it part of their daily routines. Its genius is to create angst around the fear of losing a special moment. Posting a photo assuages that unease. Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram, a startup with thirteen employees, for the bargain price of $1 billion, demonstrates the increasing power of habit-forming technology. In other words, Instagram was so damned addictive that Facebook had to have it.
- Excerpted from Jacob Weisberg’s “We Are Hopelessly Hooked” in the The New York Review of Books. Read the full essay here.