For growth, focus on the marginal user

Edited excerpt from Growth by Alex Schultz, VP Growth at Facebook:

Building an incredible product is definitely about optimizing it for the people who use your product the most. But when it comes to driving growth, people who are already using your product are not the ones you have to worry about. What you need to focus on is the marginal user. The one person who doesn’t get a notification in a given day, month, or year.

We looked at new users, resurrected users (people who weren’t on Facebook for 30 days and came back) and churned users. For pretty much every product I’ve ever seen, the resurrected and churned numbers dominate the new user account once you reach a sensible point of growth a few years in. And all those users who are churning and resurrecting had low friend counts, and didn’t find their friends so weren’t connected to the great stuff that was going on on Facebook. So the number one thing we needed to focus on was getting them to those 10 friends, or whatever number of friends they needed.

So when you’re thinking about growth, think about the user on the margin.

Notes:
(1) Thank you Aaron Frazer for the article tip.
(2) “Focus on the marginal user” — Josh Elman says the Twitter team similarly focused on the lowest four steps of user engagement — see Identify your engagement ladder.
(3) Re. “For pretty much every product I’ve ever seen , the resurrected and churned numbers dominate the new user account once you reach a sensible point of growth a few years in… So the number one thing we needed to focus on was them” — Cf. A simple metric to measure the quality of your user growth.

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