There could be some app platforms where multiple user participation is essential. For instance, a multiplayer game, in which user could pick another user to play the game from the list of his phone contacts already registered on the game server. If none of the contact is registered on game server, the app should somehow provoke the user to press the 'invite/share' button so that, when the other person joins in they both can play together.

So my question is how we can inspire users to continue with the invite button to get started.

Note that, this particular app does not let users to interact with strangers.

  • buy your users enough alcohol drinks and they will click on anything:) Jan 30, 2016 at 2:13

2 Answers 2


1. Prove your app is awesome

This may be obvious, but it's the critical first step. Before asking anyone to risk their social capital, show users why their friends will thank them for the invite. Let them enjoy something about the experience, build rapport with them, convince them that it's going to be fun with other people. It also doesn't hurt to build some social media buzz so they feel the pressure to get on the wagon. If that's the audience you're after.

2. Prove your app is trustworthy

Even if the experience is compelling, do they trust you with their contact list? This is a hard thing to quantify. But there are steps you can take.

  • Don't be sleazy. Make it clear that you will not reuse the contacts they entrust you with and you won't try to track their social activity on an on-going basis. But everyone says that.

  • Use permission priming1: You don't want to ask for permission to anything (like the address book) until it's clear why you're asking. Ideally, the request happens when the user asks to use the feature. This approach stems from the general psychological concept of priming.

  • Give the user control. As this article puts it

    we want both the safety2 of automation and the sense of control

    2 Replace safety with convenience in this case. Granting access to an existing list makes your life easier. But some users will prefer more granular access to just share a particular email address or social account. At the least invasive end of the scale, give them a link they can send themselves.

The sum is greater than the parts

Add up all these points:

  • Be shareably awesome
  • Don't be a jerk
  • Ask nicely
  • Let them decide

The sum total may create enough trust that they give you full access and your app takes off like wild fire.3

1 Permission priming on Android devices

Up until recently, the Android team took a stricter view of permission acceptance. They let users know everything an app would request up front. Of course, we now know this isn't fair, since users rarely understand what all those access requests mean at install time. Enter Android 6 and the ability to request permission at run time.

If the user is running Android 6.0 (API level 23) or later, every time the user tries some new app feature that requires a permission, the app has to interrupt the user's work with a permission request. If the user is running an earlier version of Android, the user has to grant every one of the app's permissions when installing the app ... — via developer.android

However, older versions of Android did have a kind of permission priming which some Android fans will tell you they love: Application intents.

You can have your app ask for permission to perform the operation itself. Alternatively, you can have the app use an intent to have another app perform the task. — via developer.android

The user is "primed" at run time to choose from installed apps that are already approved to handle that intent. The thing hardcore Android fans (myself included) like about intents is that it further increases your control. The user chooses a dedicated app to handle a dedicated function and, at the same time, can decide to use that app by default the next time the intent is declared.

3 This answer does not constitute a guarantee of success. People are weird. Apps are complicated. Your experience may suck.

  • Isn't "permission priming" as defined in the link iOS-only? Android apps get their permissions at install time. Jan 26, 2016 at 4:23
  • Yes and no. I'll update the answer to address this confusing point. Jan 26, 2016 at 6:12
  • Thanks for the update. But with respect to "you can have the app use an intent to have another app perform the task", I asked another question here on UXSE about this model, and I was told asking the user to install said "another app" wouldn't work well for non-technical users. Jan 26, 2016 at 13:52
  • You pose a very different question. You're talking about breaking apart features that are required to make a single useful app. I'll forego further analysis on that question here, but suffice it to say, a game (as described in this question) does not inherently require access to my contacts. Jan 26, 2016 at 17:37

Network effects become obvious as you see your own network in the system grow.

Give them reasons to play with User X. Some of these may not apply/may not be allowable depending on your game, but:

  • If the game is competitive, share the top score or last score.

  • If the game is cooperative, share the name of the last teammate they played alongside.

  • Include the name of the last user that User X beat.

  • Include the name of the User X's favorite weapon/finishing move/tactic.

  • Implement a badge system that is viewable across users.

  • Show any other of User X's achievements in the game

Just understand that there will be some distribution of users that see this information and ignore it, while others will see how much time User X has put toward the game and give it a try.

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