I was excited to hear about the new Facebook Paper app. I like the app – it’s very well done. You may know that my company, Appington, is the innovator of in-app voice. Unfortunately the Facebook guys didn’t contact us while they were developing Paper, as we’d have offered many suggestions for improving their voice tutorial :-)
We’ve worked with several mobile app and game companies to introduce audio tutorials and in-app promotions to their apps. Check out a few recent ones:
We’ve tested thousands of prompts against millions of users to measure their impact and correlate with other factors. As a consequence we’ve driven 30-60% improvement in revenue, and even increased Facebook sign-in by over 150%. In other words, we’ve done voice tutorials a bunch of times so we know what works and what doesn’t.
The Paper voice tutorial closely resembles some of the tutorials we’ve worked on. It’s pretty cool – and flattering – to see one of the biggest companies and apps out there validate your concept, and try to imitate you inside their product.
But they could do better. Here are a few suggestions we have for Facebook Paper:
- Add more character to the voice: The current voice in Facebook Paper resembles Siri – it’s emotionless, almost as if generated by a text-to-speech system. The true power of voice comes from its ability to raise real emotions in people. Facebook Paper went for the “safe choice” which uses voice to communicate information but isn’t really exciting and doesn’t build strong emotions with anyone.
- Use variety in tone and copy: Mix it up with different confirmation and action words. Voice and audio are powerful when they come in a variety of forms. Instead of a flat “great”, use a range of alternate messages to keep up users’ interest.
- A/B test: I don’t know whether Facebook Paper has a single hardcoded version of its tutorial with one actor and one set of copy. But they should be testing real voices and different lines with users. In our experiments we’ve seen that sometimes the same words spoken in a different tone of voice, or by a different actor, can drive tens of percentage difference in users using features. You might believe your actor “sounds great” but voice has a dramatic impact to real life usage of the app. Without trying a few different actors or lines, it’s impossible to know. Hunches aren’t data.
- Use voice notifications: Give users relevant and timely information, like “You have a new post from one of your friends – check it out,” or “You have a pending friend request.”
- Localization: Deliver voice guidance in the user’s own language. Voice localization is an easy way to drive more engagement across a global audience and it’s easy to do without requiring expensive graphical UI changes.
Those are just a few ideas for better voice tutorials. We’ll continue to work with cool game and app developers to drive new audio concepts for driving engagement. It’s exciting to see Facebook starting to venture in this direction!