What is the measure of app success? We’re heading down the road of app existentialism zone here, so let’s keep it simple. For some, an app is successful if it has made a boatload of money; for others, success is measured by millions of downloads. There is, however, a measure of success that goes well beyond app numbers and the app store – user engagement and loyalty.

User engagement is tricky business. Do too much and you’ll annoy users. Do too little and they’ll say goodbye. Here are three simple ways to keep your users engaged without going overboard.

1. Online Presence

Establishing an online presence is everything. There’s no better way to market your app and show that people are actually using it than by being visible wherever you can online. How? By letting your users do the work for you via their social media feeds and yours.

It’s starting to sound like a cliché, but yes, social networks have become an inherent part of most apps and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Use this to your advantage by enabling your app to engage people on their own social media accounts. For example, if you have a gaming app, redirect Facebook or Twitter logins to allow users to post high scores and other activities. For sharing apps, let users post status updates or tweet out their activity to reach out to a wider network. (And remember, no matter how you integrate social networking into your app, always make sure to keep your users’ information safe and secure)

Also, don’t neglect your own social networks. If you’re on Facebook and Twitter (if not, what’s wrong with you!? Why aren’t you already?!), don’t forget to respond to your users’ questions and comments. Even if you think you have a perfect app, someone somewhere will always have an issue (or a compliment). Nobody likes to feel ignored, so allow users to talk to you, then be there for them. It doesn’t only give them that tingly feeling when you’ve replied or retweeted, but that visibility builds up and it will do a huge chunk of app marketing for you.

Tip: One of the most effective ways to do this is to enable your app for both your users’ social media feeds and your own. For example, Bahndr, a fun photo-captioning app, has Twitter and Facebook integration that allows users to post their submissions onto their own feeds, but also has dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages that feature the best submissions sent via the app. With this method, you’ve got sharing capabilities for users, as well as a constant stream of social media talking points from the app itself.

2. Constant updates

Okay, you don’t have to constantly update your app. From a user point of view, that’s really annoying, but at some point it will get very annoying for you too. Nonetheless, you do have to update your app on a regular basis to keep it interesting and keep users from the brink of app boredom (also synonymous with app deleted and app ignored). Additionally, by updating the app on a regular basis, you bring attention back to it naturally via notifications from the app store updates panel. This is great for people who haven’t used your app in a while, people attracted to shiny, new things, as well as OCD people who absolutely must have all their update notifications cleared before their left eye begins to twitch. Like any other business that puts its customers first, regular app updates also means putting your users first – updates improve your product, fixes bugs, and adds value to your app that keeps your users engaged as much or even more than before.

Tip: Do yourself and your users a favor and don’t release an update every other week just for the sake of updating. It’s annoying. Very annoying. Again, make sure your updates add value – whatever it is that you did, it should either be felt by users post-update, or your update log should let them know what exactly it is you fixed or added. And, please, don’t forget to test your updates. (I beg of you, for the love of all app gods, please test your updates – no one wants to update to an app that’s even buggier than before!)

3. Ask Users to Rate Your App

Ask and you shall receive. You know how there are a ton of apps with a ton of downloads, yet has very little to no reviews? Having no reviews either means users aren’t using the app, or no one cares enough to review it. Either way, a lack of reviews deters future downloads and your app’s success. Therein is the magic of asking. Frankly, no one likes popups while using an app, but it’s one of the most effective ways to get people to say warm and fuzzy things about your app for all the world to see. The secret is when and how to ask. For example, while there is no standard timeframe, you should wait at least five days to one week before asking users to rate your app to give them a chance to actually use it. Further, don’t launch any popups at inconvenient times, but do so in between activities or before exiting the app.

Tip: Users don’t want to rate your app just yet? If your users choose to rate your app later, don’t ask them again just yet. “Later” doesn’t mean the next time the user launches the app. That’s annoying. And desperate. And it’s asking them to hit the “Never” button. Wait a few days or a few uses before asking again and you’ll have better results.

Need a please-rate-me hack? It’s easy to enable your app to ask for user reviews with drop-in plugins, like Appirater, which make it really simple to integrate the ‘please rate me’ functionality.

How do you keep your users engage? What strategies will you or have you implemented to keep them loyal and your app successful? Please share below.

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