The Four-Step Hook - Deepstash
The Four-Step Hook

The Four-Step Hook

... deployed by the messaging software and many other products is composed of:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment

Understanding these four steps makes us see the hidden psychology behind a user's daily tech habits.

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MORE IDEAS FROM The Psychology Behind Why We Can't Stop Messaging

There is a push provided to the user to ‘invest’ in the service so that there are variable rewards in the future. This can be anything from uploading a new profile picture to set a status update for all to see.

The investment increases the probability of the next trigger happening, as in the case of messages when a message is sent, the likelihood of a reply increases manifold.

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Smartphones and Messaging

Phones became smart more than a decade ago and started doing almost everything.

While the app store has millions of apps to take care of our needs, connecting with other people remains one of the few fundamental uses of the phone.

Actual phone call usage has gone down drastically, while services like text messages, video calls, email, and rich messages (Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp) are used almost throughout the day.

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The Trigger

... towards doing something can be external, like a ‘click here’ button, or internal, like an emotion or craving. A successful trigger graduates from being an external one into something inbuilt in the user.

Example: One feels lonely or bored and instinctively opens Facebook.

Text messages have the notification as an external trigger when you get a new message from a friend, giving you a small rush in the head.

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  • BF Skinner, a psychologist, found that if an action gives a variable, unpredictable reward, it is more frequently used and is addictive.
  • Like a slot machine, the reward is not something that the user knows beforehand, providing a sense of wonder, intrigue and mystery.
  • In the case of messages, the variability is baked in the message itself, and different apps utilize novel ways to keep the user hooked.

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The technological tools we use keeps us connected to the people that matter to us, and the text (later rich text message) is one of the oldest ways of communication since portable phones came into existence.

It also has a hidden secret that makes us keep checking it.

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Any trigger, be it a text message notification or an emotion, prompts a user to take some action, like opening the app or clicking a button.

This simple action can be internalized and make the users click on the app icon to open it even if there isn’t any new message.

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RELATED IDEA

The Hook Model

The Hook Model is a way of explaining somebody's interactions with a product as they go through the four phases: the trigger to begin using the product, an action to satisfy the trigger, a variable reward for the actions, and an investment - in which the user feels that the product is more valuable to them.

After the cycle has been completed by the user, their habits will reinforce the product and therefore a win to the company.

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NIR EYAL

The secrets that companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon don't want you to know

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A growing list of evidence indicates that binge-watching may not be the ideal way to consume media.

Researchers have linked binge-watching to lower sleep quality, and studies have found that binge-watching shows might actually be less memorable and less enjoyable than watching new episodes on a weekly basis.

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