Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Talking about Netflix Community

Here's a question for you. I'd like more people to engage with these new features -- for instance, finding reviewers with movie tastes they like, and saving them. How do you suggest this spread?

Now before you say "send an email out to all netflix subscribers" or "put a little announcement of it on the netflix home page" let me reframe: let's say we did that. What would the announcement say? How do you describe what these things are, and how do you entice people to explore?

You all pretty much use these new features. How do you talk about them with your friends?


  1. In all honesty, my friends (I have six) all gave up on the friends' features when the two-cent mini-reviews turned into "notes." Some still leave notes from time to time, but that happens only rarely. When we talk about the community features, they say the page is too busy and they don't have the time to bother with it.

    About the only thing they've expressed beyond disappointment about the notes change is admonishment in discovering that their entire queue is exposed to other friends (none had figured out the movie privacy option until I pointed it out to them).

    No one else I know has bothered spending any time chasing down user lists and reviews. One friend makes regular use of the "Previews" feature and adds movies to her queue using that. All of them wish that Netflix recommendations were more on the mark, and that the "New Releases" section were more up to date and better organized.

    Hope this helps,

  2. I love the new features but my fav's keep reappearing and disappearing. Gotta get that stabilized. I am definitely using all the new features! I enjoy reading others reviews, finding similar tastes and even finding peoples lists.

  3. Perhaps putting a "Save to Faves" button in with the scrolling reviews for a couple weeks? Just enough for people to become aware that they can save people. Maybe even put buttons by the popular reviews on the movie pages.

    Got no bright ideas for announcement wording at the moment.

  4. Tough one. Just spoke to a Netflix friend who, given her relatively modest viewing habits, has always found the recommendations, me, her work colleagues, the web, TV and newsprint critics, the web, and the world at large a more than adequate source for new movies. And from what Dan says, that seems to be a member profile that will never be much interested in the new features -- however artfully they're presented and packaged -- simply because they're offering something for which there's little or no demand. So I'd say find a way to get the word out to the many 'power watchers' (and you'll obviously know who they are) that don't yet know that all this is going on, perhaps using usage-specific (rather than scattershot) e-mails, almost as if they've been selected to participate in some grand experiment : e.g. "Since your rental history suggests an interest in Cinema that goes beyond casual viewing, we thought that you might be interested in the new 'Community Features' that we've been gradually rolling out, and expect to have fully up and running by the end of the year. The central building block of which being the accumulated knowledge of your fellow members, yada, yada.....". I'm no P.R. person (obviously!), but you get the idea. I just think that we're talking about 2 very different ways of seeing and using the site, and so only a carefully tailored and targeted approach will provide the necessary resonance, hence up-tick in usage.

  5. Anonymous said... I love the new features but my fav's keep reappearing and disappearing. Gotta get that stabilized.

    I completely agree. Get the kinks out before you ask more members to use it. My latest reviews haven't updated to the community page in a week. I saw another poster has the same issue.

    I have 16 Faves but I can only see 9 usually. Rarely I can see 15 - I've never seen all 16 unless I go in under my son's profile.

    These are annoyances that I thought would be corrected before any widespread announcement was made since it's been more of a test mode.

    I've enjoyed these new features but I have no reason to add any Faves since I'm at capacity and can't see all of them now. I would recommend that you put a notice as to the maxium you can see somewhere because we can add faves until the cows come home and end up with tons we can't see. I had something like 36 before you said the limit was 16. I just kept hitting it thinking they were not adding.

    Once these bugs are corrected I'd suggest putting some kind of pop up on the queque page (like the announcement that we can drag and drop when they rolled that one out), browse DVD page and Movies You'll love Page that announces it -
    "Like someone's reviews or lists? Keep track of your favorite reviewers by adding them as Faves. Check out our great new features under the Community tab."

    But please correct the reviews and faves. Thanks.

  6. In all honesty, I don't talk about these features to my friends. Like Harry, my friends and I have so many other real life ways to find movies that the Community features just aren't needed.

    In looking at the members most similar to you, I've been quite surprised at how many of their 5-star rated movies just don't appeal to me. Sure there are some similarities, but nothing that makes me say "I want to check out more of what this person has to say? or whatever, and these are sims of 70 - 77 %. The reason I bring this into the conversation is that my own personal experience does not give me any reason to recommend this particular section of the site.

    The biggest on-site help for me as far as finding new movies are the suggestions that come up when I add something to my queue. I can end up adding 5+ movies easily when I only hopped onto the site to add a movie I just read about online or heard about on the radio.

    What I will do is continue to check in on the Community page and see how things develop there. You can be sure that if I use it more as it solidifies, I will mention that to people.

  7. Sorry, should have added that I myself am very much enjoying the new features, and am finding a ton of new movies that I might never have found otherwise; but as one of those 'power watchers' I mentioned I'm happy to inhale one a day (not always courtesy of Netflix, I'm afraid!) to 'Geraldine's' 1 or 2 a week. Needless to say she thinks I'm completely bonkers. And there's your problem!

  8. You know, I really don’t know how to sell it…

    My friends won’t use these features… Two of them don’t watch a lot of movies… selections stay at home more than a week at a time sometimes. Their queue moves so slowly, they don’t have much trouble finding something, they barely keep up with simple blockbusters. The other one watches about four a week, but still has less than 150 rated. He’s always complaining that it takes too much time to find anything interesting as it is. He’s not going to spend time finding and tracking faves.

    I told them almost two weeks back how to use my ratings to rate more movies, so they would hopefully get better suggestions. I’m nearly up to 3,000 now and I know they’ve seen most of them too. You would think that would be pretty easy for them, very efficient. But so far their rated movies haven’t budged. Each are below 150. All of them have been subscribers longer than I have.

    I really don’t think any of the ‘friends and faves’ features can be sold to them at all. They aren’t your target, at least for actually getting people to use ‘friends and faves’ directly. They may benefit down the road when the quality and diversity of reviews is improved and they find themselves undecided on a particular title, but I know none of them will actually participate beyond that. One of them won’t read reviews at all, not even mine, so we can count her out all together.

    I don’t think it would be wise to try and sell users like them on finding movies through ‘friends and faves.’ They will only find it frustrating. Especially as everything is so rough right now. They want useful, and right now it’s more fun than useful. You could spend an hour or more clicking “high” sim-to-you only to find no one’s written more than a couple unremarkable reviews on movies you don’t care about… Or rated very few 5stars… Or are showing only the same movies that everyone else has rated… Or made any lists worth the trouble of loading. The featured ‘top-10’ lists so far don’t even open up to the list. (And don’t merit being featured at all from what I’ve seen.) The list link opens to the creator’s ‘reviews and lists’ where you have to search again for the list you thought you’d be looking at already, and then load that. Too often you then find that the list is useless anyway, unfinished, ordinary, poorly executed, etc… I put up with it because I’m weird, but they would try it once, maybe, then never try it again.

    I think the best bet would be to target the real buffs, the list makers, and review writers. I don’t think I’d do anything ofc until the wrinkles are all out, and that top-ranking-list is up and looking good. I know I really want to see it. I hope it will provide a better way to find people who really know their stuff. You need to show people right away that all the new features add up to a toy they will really want to play with. If it’s not finished, not working, they might not give it a second chance. Right now I only think it’s ready for those already creating member content, along with your tinkerers and other slightly obsessive compulsive types like me.

    If you’ve got any list makers, or reviewers that are truly top-notch, hidden experts and specialists. Find a way to feature them, both as a resource and as an example of what can be achieved.

    If you have a way of distinguishing between the accounts of general users and those who are creating content, (reviews or lists) or people who have done in the past and just given up… I’d focus on selling to them. Advertise the new editing capability… That is huge! Let them know all the ways they can increase the visibility and usefulness of their reviews and lists. Even more important! Let them know about influence, ranking, and how other member reviewers have gathered fans. Let them know that the voting situation is fixed. Very important! How many of them were discouraged when they realized that their reviews were never going to be read by anyone, or had discovered how they could come under attack? I bet there are a lot of people who might try again if only they knew.

    The sites down so I can’t play around to try and come up with more specific suggestions, so all this is generalized off-the-top-of-my-head stuff.

    Maybe I can come up with something more helpful later.


  9. I like Chawk's idea of strategic pop-ups for people who like to play - but again, many people don't so there'd have to be a way to turn them off.

    I think people are generally being rather harsh about the current fully acknowledged bugs. Isn't the whole point of getting this stuff out in stages to work out the kinks as they show up? Can't we just tell Michael what the problems are, as he's asked us to, without being quite so pissy about it?

  10. Jake,

    I don’t think people are being ‘pissy,’ or pointing out or rehashing problems, or potential problems, just for the fun of it. He did ask about how our friends would view these features. It’s hard to figure out how to promote the features when they are still being developed, and we’re all still figuring out how we are going to be able to use them. We also can’t be certain any concerns we might have or potential snags we could conceive, have been considered yet or not. So far I’ve seen some honest, insightful thoughts from people who love what is going on so far, and love the potential even more.

    We all know we are in a testing phase… Which is why problems are mentioned when we find them, so it can be gauged whether they are wide spread, and then fixed all the sooner whenever they aren’t working as intended… And criticism is necessary in the creative process, especially when it’s instructive as well as constructive. I think some basic insights are unfolding here that are interesting and could be very helpful. Like how useful the features are, or could be, and to whom.

    Strategic pop-ups and targeted e-mails are both excellent ideas, and Harry may not be a PR guy but that’s not a bad start there…


  11. Regarding Harry and Becky's first comments, I think the best way to identify potential users of the new community features would be to target people who have rated a lot of movies. People who don't take time to even rate their movies probably aren't going to be interested in entering the community maze.

    As far as how you should pitch the new features to potential users... I'm at a bit of a loss there. Honestly, I really haven't used them much yet. I like the idea of the new features, and I intend to use them at some point, but with my queue already up over 400 movies and my available viewing time waning (first child on the way any day now), I don't see much point in looking for more movies to add to the already insurmountable pile.

  12. I like Baff's idea too (having 'save to fave' next to the scrolling reviews, and maybe elsewhere too) for people who vaguely know about the feature but only as an abstract concept; so if they saw a review that made them go "wow, that guy/gal really nailed it, gotta see what they have to say about other movies", then they'd finally 'get' what 'save to faves' means (although "More of Flixster's reviews" kinda has that covered). But for the average user like Dan's, Harry's and Becky's friends it would probably just confuse the hell out of them, just as the blog link did, so maybe bring it on-board -- whether temporarily or permanently -- when everyone understands what's going on?

  13. Congratulations Eric! :)

    Wishing you and yours all the very best.

    And you’re right; having a lot of rated movies would be another very good indication of a motivated player.


  14. One nut now has 256 'friends and faves', and counting!! Maybe ask him/her to articulate the intoxicating appeal, and let the word go forth??

    Yes best wishes, Eric. Maybe save yourselves a few bucks and downgrade to 1-out-at-a-time for the next 2 years before your next monthly subscription kicks in, 'cos that's all you're going to have have time for ;-)

  15. OK, heres a thought. How about a "Randomizer"? OK I know, how does it get folks checking out the new features.

    Well see, the randomizer will pop up folks icon who are "most" like the person signed on.

    The premise is to help folks find a movie they will most likely "like" without them having to work hard at it. While still exposing them to the new features.

    Easy Br-easy!

    Simple Box, Titled

    "Help me Find a Flick"

    (click here to randomly select another NF user whose tastes are similar to yours!)

    User Icon 82% Similar

    Click on Icon to see this users lists of top rated movies that you may like, but not have seen before!

    When they click on the icon the users page comes up with the default page being the list of top rated movies.

    Curiosity will take care of the rest.

  16. @2mcabre. That's a really great idea : bring the water to the horse, in effect! But you still have to deal with those people (and i too know a few) who don't EVER want ANYTHING popping out at them, and who are rather more likely to call Customer Service in a snit than plunge happily in 'the maze', like most of us would, and do.

  17. How about instead of popping up Friend's new features on the main page, having it come up on the Recommendations page? Or when someone finds a user's review as helpful maybe suggesting that person to be a fave?

  18. In looking at the members most similar to you, I've been quite surprised at how many of their 5-star rated movies just don't appeal to me. Sure there are some similarities, but nothing that makes me say "I want to check out more of what this person has to say? or whatever, and these are sims of 70 - 77 %.

    I totally agree. I've found plenty of 80+% people and for the most part, I hate or do not want to watch the movies they've rated 5-stars. Also, I rated too many movies "not interested" so now I don't have any recommendations.

    Because of this (and unlike snooker), I'm actually counting on some of these new features to help me find movies. Which means I'm counting on other people using these features, too.

    I've been trying to get my online friends to use the new community features, but they have the same wish I do (that we can use anonymous nicknames with friends, too) and my real life friends just aren't interesting right now. I'm not sure how get newbies excited about it all. I like the idea of the pop up on pertinent pages, like the one we got in our queue a while back. And the randomizer suggestion is pretty cool, too.

  19. @Mike…

    It wouldn't have to be an actual pop up window, but could be incorporated on the main page.

    Like the embedded box that opens on the home page in the "other movies you might enjoy space" that if you click on "close" closes.

    Or on the movies you'll love page at the top of the page, it could alternate with the "To Get the Best Suggestions" embedded window, which you can close if it bothers you.

    ☺ Or the box that is there that suggests you write a review on the community page.

    Or for S&G'ls simply create a button at the top in big BOLD text that says Randomizer.

    Curiosity is the one thing you can always count on.

    Kind of like getting your very first computer, being really green, spending an hour trying to find the "AnyKey", and another hour on the phone waiting for tech support so you can tell them you cannot find the "AnyKey".

    Folks will do it because they can.

  20. First, I must reiterate what Chawk and others have expressed with regard to the bugs still plaguing the new features. To expect anyone new to have a rewarding experience within the community, they must be more reliable than their current state. I too have Faves that come and go on an hourly basis. Also, my new reviews (my favorite form of contribution to the Netflix community) have not posted in 6 weeks. Once these issues have been rectified, then introducing these features to larger groups of Netflix members will have a more positive effect.

    Also, as mentioned by Snooker and Ang, the Sim% I too find extremely misleading. Some of my favorite "Faves" bear a meager 45-55% similarity to me. Is this because my love of such a wide variety of genres eliminate members who maybe watch Thrillers and Horror films exclusively? This is a prime example of why I, for one, would love the opportunity to see the 1-4 star films these members have rated.

    Now as to the question of how to engage more members in these community features, I would echo the sentiment of many on this thread that really are unsure. I feel the most effective way (at least initially) to prompt more traffic would be to address the the users of the more casual community features such as "Helpful/Not Helpful" with regard to the reviews. A simple prompt reminding users that find reviews helpful to "save this member to your Faves and follow their future reviews" could prompt that casual user to become more engaged. They have already stated an interest in the reviews which implies that those members use Netflix for more than just the the Movie Queue. It also would not feel as intrusive as a pop-up on the Queue (a section that has little if nothing to do with the community section) and not as easily overlooked as an email blast to all members (I delete all Netflix emails before reading unless I am expecting a specific reply from customer service).

    At any rate, keep plugging away at the new features. Each new release offers more ways for me to find great films that I may have never run across on my own. Cheers!

  21. Michael,
    For the first time I have all my Faves on the page and the numbers match on the tab. Very cool.

    Did you change the Friends ID to the nickname? If so I like that.

    A WANT - I'd like to see a tally of the ratings for me and be able to see it for Faves. I'm curious to know what % of movies I and others rate at the different levels.

    Something like:
    NetflixID - rated 2000 movies
    10% 5 star, 20% 4 star, 40% 3 star, 20% 2 star, 10% 1 star, o% not interested

    Or if not a % then the actual number of each. It would tell me how tough a rater my Faves are and be interesting to see how I rate movies but without a tally on the ratinging I don't want to count mine.

    Any chance of that happening?

  22. W O W
    I just noticed that the Lists are now in poster format. That is great and should be much more fun to look through and easier to know what the movie is about. Great job!!!

  23. My Friends' Time is ValuableSeptember 30, 2007 at 5:28 PM

    I don't see myself really using friends and faves until Netflix offers a "friend finder" like Facebook. Who wants to get an email about Netflix unless they are already member? Maybe 1 in 10 people I know. Help friends who are already members find each other!! Technically, I don't think it's that hard, but it's a really nice feature.

  24. @ My friends' time.... . I'm confused. Can't you just ask your friends/colleages/family if they're a member, whether in person, on the phone, text-ting or e-mail (a mere 5 seconds of their valuable time!)? Of what possible help would a directory of anonymous people be, since most of us insist on maintaining the separation between the Netflix world and the outside world. But if you want to use your real name to wave hello to people, I've never read any strictures against doing that.

  25. To be honest I've never discussed Netflix's features with any of my friends (a whopping 4). I'm probably the only one that has faves considering their usage. Hell, I can barely get one to rate his movies. I need better friends. :(


  26. I am spending more time "playing" with all the new features than watching movies. Love them all. One irritating thing, though, is to create four or five reviews and then never have them show up on my site.

  27. At the bottom of my community page, it will say a few random people with similar tastes to me, but I want to see a list of all the people similar to me. I want to be able to find people who are the most similar to me. There should be some way to search for them.

  28. Facebook is the key. Many of us are now using it as our "personality" portal to the world. What's the first questions people always ask when they are trying to get to know someone? "What kind of music do you like?" "What kind of movies do you like?"

    Flixster is really good but I already have over 400 movie ratings and 800+ recommendations, I'd really love to share those on Facebook.

    I'm surprised Netflix hasn't done this yet...the RSS feeds are nice but they don't really get the interactivity aspect done.

    I suggest checking out the iLike Facebook plugin model.

    I'd REALLY like to see you guys over there. Leverage what's already out there and you are golden.

  29. Here's an interesting article on 'Introverts' vs. 'Extroverts' - or 'The self-contained' vs. 'Those requiring a lot of input', as it suggests - which might help explain why some of us are having trouble getting certain friends to use the community features! -every-extrovert-should-know-about-introverts/

  30. In all honesty, my friends (I have six) all gave up on the friends' features when the two-cent mini-reviews turned into "notes." Some still leave notes from time to time, but that happens only rarely. When we talk about the community features, they say the page is too busy and they don't have the time to bother with i