With so many apps and avenues of activity competing for your user base’s attention, it can often be hard to keep folks engaged in your app.

For media apps, increasing content consumption is always major goal. More content consumption boosts user activity and loyalty, and – if you generate revenue via ads – increased content consumption can mean big dollar signs.

Today we’re detailing five strategies media apps can use to increase content consumption and keep users coming back for more!

1. Auto Play Next Episode

Netflix and other binge-able TV viewing apps have made this strategy famous, but in truth it can work across a variety of media apps.

It’s just a matter of giving your user an automatic next step, rather than forcing them to stop and make a decision regarding what they’d like to do next in your app.

When users listen to a song, watch a video, or consume any kind of content, they are on a certain trajectory. In many cases, when the video or content ends, the breaks are pulled, and user is then forced to make a decision – do they want to keep consuming content, or do something else instead?

Auto-playing another piece of content after the first takes away this moment of indecision from the user. They don’t need to make a choice – the choice is made for them, and for many folks, that alone is enough encouragement to keep on consuming!

We’ve all had those moments of Sunday night Netflix binging when we pause and think to ourselves “I should really go meal prep / study / go to the gym / do something responsible instead of watching a 4th episode of Bojack Horseman,” but when the next episode auto-plays, we’re quite content to have any guilt associated with choice evaporate and indulge in slothfulness a bit longer.

While video and music apps are the most obvious choices for this technique, it can work with other media apps as well. For social media apps, this is seen in the form of the infinite-scroll (no matter how much you scroll down, new content will pop up – there’s no end)!

2. You Might Also Like…

Displaying related content is another way to keep users active in your app – it’s a more gentle variation of the auto-play strategy. This is often a good technique when you’re not quite sure what a user may want to consume next, but you have a few ideas.

For example, with Netflix, auto-queuing another piece of content is an easy and obvious solution since most users are consuming episodes in a series. Once they’ve watched a single episode, it makes the most sense that they’d probably consider watching the following episode in the sequence.

For other content, it’s not so obvious. On YouTube for example, a user may watch a video about the history of the Vietnam War. But what are they keen on watching next – more videos about historic wars? Videos about traveling to Vietnam? Videos about Vietnam culture? It’s hard to say.

Displaying several related videos gives you different potential paths to appeal to a user’s interests. It’s also a great way of giving users a few of those choices they so crave, without overwhelming them with hundreds of video options.

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Humans are quite finicky about choices – they like some choices, but too many become overwhelming. In a famous choice study, consumers were found to be 10x more likely to buy a jam on a supermarket display when the number of jams shown was reduced from 24 to 6.

Most of us assume more choices are better, but this study and other have revealed – in what’s being referred to as the ‘Paradox of Choice’ – that humans have a choice threshold. They want to feel their decision has weight, but don’t want to be burdened with a huge heap of options.

Displaying related content- whether it be related news articles or videos – is a great way to give users the choices they crave without thousands of daunting page results.

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3. Update Users on Content They Care About

If you want to keep users consuming content in your app, it makes sense to keep them in the loop about content you already know they’ve enjoyed.

When a new season of Stranger Things drops, or when Taylor Swift’s new album miraculously appears on Spotify, make sure already-ascribed fans know about it!

The key here is collecting user data and compiling solid user profiles. Understand what content your user cares about, and keep them up to speed. Not only will they consume the content you notify them about, they’ll also be grateful that you sounded the alarm!

YouTube does this well with their app – whenever a chancel I am subscribed to uploads a new video, I know about it right away!

4. Set In Social


Social proof is powerful stuff, so it’s worth making the most of it whenever you can.

If you want users to consume more content, give them a little nudge by letting them know that their colleague just finished reading a fresh New Yorker article about the latest scuffle in The White House, or that their best friend just flew through season 5 of House of Cards.

No one wants to look the fool or feel left out – whether it concerns real or fictional political scandal – and a little sprinkle of social proof pixie dust can be just the thing to get your user back into the saddle.

Depending on the type of content, you may be able to add a competitive edge in. If you’re dealing with a videogame app, consider letting the user know that a friend has just beaten their high score – game on!

Of course in order to display these kinds of social proof messages, you need to have permission to access a user’s Facebook account or other social media profile.

5. Show What’s Trending

Let’s imagine that you don’t have enough user data to confidently auto-play a next piece of content, recommend additional content, or display any kind of social proof.

When all else fails, simply show users what content is hot and trending at any given time. The truth is that giving your users something – anything – as a next step is better than blank space.

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Humans are social creatures, and even if our specific social circle can’t provide social proof, simply knowing that a video is going viral and is popular with the masses is often enough to pique anyone’s interest.

Trending lists (whether it be playlists, vlog videos, news articles, or sport highlight reels) are a more subdued form of social proof, relying on simple popularity rather than specific relationships as an indicator of value.

Do you have any strategies for increasing content consumption within your app? We’d love to hear your ideas – share them in the comments below!