"What's This Social Network Do For Me When I Get Bored?": A Follow-Up On Siren

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the fascinating new dating app Siren – designed by women, to encourage safe conversations with potential paramours. And what’s emerged from Siren is a question I need to ask of all future social applications:
“What’s this social network do for me when I get bored?”
Let’s say that it’s 11:00 at night and I’m not quite ready to go to bed – I’m just twiddling around killing another twenty minutes. You know; the sad state of modern life.
If I’m on OKCupid, I can set the filter to “worldwide” and see everyone who’s 99% compatible with me. I can answer another 100 questions. I can take some of their quizzes. I can look at my visitors, and ponder what algorithms OKC uses to devise their match percentages. There’s tons of stuff to distract me.
If it’s FetLife, I can go perv on people’s pictures. I can read people’s posts and status updates. I can join a group. I can see who’s attending the next event. I can check what’s hit Kinky and Popular.
And if it’s Facebook, God, if it’s Facebook I can check my Facebook email or tune into the endless stream or search for old high school buddies or join a group or like a page or start a flame war, or something.
On Siren, I can… answer the question of the day. And see what other people answered to the question of the day.
And then I can wait 24 hours for the next question of the day.
It’s not quite as dull as all that, as you can go back and look at past QOTDs…but there’s essentially one interesting central event that everything coalesces around, and that only happens once every 24 hours.
In terms of “What’s this social network do for me when I’m bored?”, Siren’s answer is “It occupies me precisely as long as the QOTD does, and assuming I’ve checked out past QOTDs, it puts me into ‘wait’ mode.”
And as such, Siren’s in a tenuous position. Maybe it winds up occupying a central place in my life because I stumble across some cuties and we start Siren-mailing back-and-forth… But then that’s not Siren, that’s just email, and any social network worth its salt has a form of email in it.
Or, as is more likely to happen – and as past friends have already told me have happened – they forget to answer one QOTD, and then they forget to go back, and Siren becomes another app you used to use and maybe remember vaguely when Facebook, Twitter, Fet, and OKC have run out of things to give you.
The big question for Siren is, “What happens when I want to interact more regularly with people?” – and if this is a dinner conversation, as Siren wants to be, the problem is that it’s a dinner where one person asks one question and then you all quietly shuffle home when s/he’s done.
Which is not to say this can’t be fixed; a couple of other hotspots to allow for more interaction could fix this. Gimme, say, two other events firing regularly where I have more opportunity to see what’s going on, and that probably solves like 90% of the retention issue. (It still presents a stumbling block for users who want to get maniacal about checking every hour on the hour, but I don’t know how critical “core” users are to getting an app’s word out.)
As it is, I kinda like Siren right now, but the lack of people and the lack of stuff to do is getting to me. The “What now?” issue can be fixed easily, and since the founders seem to be responsive to feedback, it might be. And the user base will grow when it does that – and a solid user base is almost anyone’s killer app, as God, lots of people hate Facebook, but everyone’s there.
It’s still evolving. Let’s hope it evolves into something that helps me kill time in those moments I’m waiting for the bus, because right now, other apps are my huckleberry.

1 Comment

  1. Misha
    Dec 24, 2015

    “They” is a better option than “S/he”, particularly as Siren is explicitly welcoming to nonbinary people.

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