Introducing the Tweetium Model

Posted on by David Stubbs


During the initial phases of Notorious (soon to be released note taking app), Matt and myself (of Abstract Factory fame) were analyzing why our previous app Just the Tip (JTT), didn't take off as well as we had hoped. It wasn't so much that we wanted it to becomes a runaway success and we'd become millionaires (that would be nice mind you) but more that we truly believed it was the best tip calculator that existed on the app store - we were curious why more people didn't know about JTT despite being featured by Apple in “New and Noteworthy” and various other subsections. We looked at a number of reasons why the app wasn’t as successful as we hoped it would be, and through the analysis, Tweetium was born, and would make its debut appearance in Notorious.

While Notorious was in its infancy, we had many discussions on what price point we should strive for and what features should be included. We initially wanted to charge a small premium, $0.99 for the app but started questioning it because JTT success was so minimal, which we suspected was due to its price. We looked at a good amount of other note apps out there as well and made a matrix of how price correlated to features. Most apps were 0.99c, but had a sync component attached to validate the price, some were more expensive due to being part of a larger ecosystem and could charge a premium (a-la Apple). We looked at the amount of effort required per feature, and tried to find the right balance between our price, and the features we could offer.

That’s when we started thinking a little more creatively; what if we keep the app free, but have some features that are disabled or hidden unless the user engages socially with Notorious. Ultimately, we wanted to ensure the app had some social hook to try and make it a lager success than our previous apps - but how could we ensure people were actually saying things about Notorious and create a more significant sphere of buzz around it. Social would be the core idea around Tweetium, to support it in Notorious we then created these three tenets:

  1. Feature packed & free to use
  2. Awesome user experience
  3. Gentle nudges to tweet about how free and awesome it is.

The Waterline in all its glory

Tweetium felt like the perfect approach, but fancy name aside we still needed to figure out the finite details of how this could actually work in practice. The next hurdle we needed to overcome was where the nudge to the user should manifest - there was talk of disabling features, hiding certain elements, and even having modal interstitials on a set schedule, however none of those felt quite right. We didn’t want to punish the user for not paying for the app, merely make it an inconvenience. Our prediction was that if they used the app for a fair bit then they would have no issue promoting or engaging with the app in the event of an inconvenient nudge that could be easily dismissed. After days of discussion, we decided the rulings on how Tweetium would work in practice - people could use the app completely unabated for 30 days, after which an barrier (the Waterline hereafter) on the note list would start creeping up and eventually block all but 1 note, if the user tapped the Waterline they could compose a tweet and shoot it out to their social circle with a #notorious hash tag and a link back to the app store to remove said Waterline for an additional 30 days. We would add in the ability to pay for the app using an in-app purchase, but that’s a fallback more than anything. The benefits of Tweetium to us are twofold – for users who prefer the free approach, we get personalized recommendations to their social circle, for users who prefer an untarnished experience they can pay a small fee to unlock the app forever.

Tweetium popup

The actual tweet message was something of contention as well – how much flexibility should we give the user as far as writing about Notorious. We had toyed with having pre-defined messages like “this is awesome”, or “they made me do this…” but we wanted to throw caution to the wind and just let users say whatever they wanted. Any press is good press, right?

Lastly. we started working out the math a little, and trying to figure out the acquisition ramp over the months. The average Twitter use has 208 followers, then assume Notorious has 1000 initial users, and 500 opted to use Tweetium to dismiss the Waterline after 1 month, the personal tweets will be seen by 104,000 potential new users. Even if 1% of those views yields a download the app, thats an additional 1000 users. We’d estimate the number keeps growing as the use base grows, and we hope about 3-5% convert into paying customers as well, which does diminish the tweet potential unfortunately but that’s something we’re ok with.

That’s the Tweetium model in a nutshell, a premium app that’s supported by the tweets of users willing to be annoyed a little every 30 days with an in-app purchase fallback. I imagine at some point something like this could be opened up to Facebook as well, or any social network by in large, but the name will always be Tweetium because it just sounds cooler than Facebookium or Social Networkium. The Tweetium story is obviously unfinished, because the app and the concept hasn't launched yet, but as soon as it does (and I'll bet, thirty days after) I'll be following up with another blog post, telling you the stats and the whatnots of the first month of Tweetium.