Any chance I have to dive into the world of psychology + technology, I jump at the opportunity. Koko and Happier are two apps that have caught my attention as they are similar in what they want to help change but different in their approach. Since I’ve been an active user for both apps, work for a tech company, and have a background in psychology, I figured it would be fun to write up a post comparing the two. Keep in mind, these are just my opinions. Without further adieu…

Koko

Short summary: An app that lets users voice their concerns/problems/stressors so others can help by using the concept of reframing to change how one looks at the concerns/problems/stressors. As they say, it’s “crowdsourced well-being”.

First impressions: Keep in mind that I’m beta testing this app. I was very impressed with how the app introduced reframing. Before you were allowed to download the app or get started using it, you were run through a series of introductory and informational sessions to understand what’s acceptable for reframing. The length and structure of this informational session was simply perfect at highlighting the important parts of the app: anonymous reframing that doesn’t offer advice or solutions but offers a way to see things in a new way. Not only that but the UI is simple to use yet beautiful.

How it works:

You sign up by choosing an anonymous username so that no one knows who you are. You then have three actions you can take: post, reframe, or like a reframe of someone else. From there, you see a stream of posts with excerpts from the post. You simply click into the post you want to reframe and choose which sentence you want to tackle. Before you post, you must check off that you’re following the apps rules.

Positives:

  1. The gamification of the app is awesome. You can see a running tally of how many people you’ve helped, how many people have been helped overall, and how many people liked your specific reframe. The way you “help” someone is by reframing their post and the person who posted liking yours.
  2. The community being built is genuine. People are engaged and active participants already.

Negatives:

  1. I have seen some reframes that look more like advice as well as posters following up with the people who reframed the post to argue. Neither of these acts are constructive or in line with the app’s ideology.
  2. The notifications are a bit out of control. You basically can be notified if someone liked your reframe, you helped someone, and sometimes if someone has posted. There aren’t settings right now to alter the notifications but I think that’s something that will be built out.

Overall thoughts

I love the genuine focus of the app and the shaping of responses. You are constantly reminded to reframe in a positive manner rather than offer advice. I can tell that a lot of behavioral techniques are built into the app which makes it fun and fascinating to use. While I’ve disengaged from every social media outlet other than Twitter due to work events, I think Koko has me as a loyal user for now. I was initially worried that having people post worries would only lead to a group think of negativity but it seems to be that, right now, it’s a community of people trying to bring each other up. The only downfall to this is that some responses are cheesy or invalidate how someone feels which I ultimately don’t think is the goal. There’s a thin line to walk when reframing but I think the more practice users get the better the entire community will be. I have yet to post there but, if something were to come up, I would. I’m happy there’s an honest community where the tougher side of life can be discussed in a way that’s less confessional (think: PostSecret) and more constructive.

Happier

Short Summary: An app built to share happy things happening in your life and share in those happy moments of others. As they say, “We help you notice the awesome things that are already a part of your life.”

First impressions: I immediately loved the bright colors and easy-to-use interface. Surprisingly, they’ve made the process of posting include an increasing number of steps. Rather than just posting like you would on Facebook, there’s now choices to categorize your choice, add a picture, share your location, share on Facebook, and share on Twitter. Overall, it drew me in fairly quickly when I first found it about two years ago. However, at some point in an effort to simplify my life, I removed the app. I joined back in order to better write this post.

How it works: You share a happy moment or you can view other friend’s posts or people’s posts who are nearby. You can also take courses centered on mindfulness and gratitude. People can comment on your posts, like your posts, and follow your subsequent posts. You can obviously do the same!

Positives:

  1. After posting for a while, you have a collection of happy moments you can turn back to on a rainy day.
  2. You get to share in other’s happiness and other people can share in yours.
  3. Gamification of the app is also strong with “confetti” going down your phone screen when you post and special celebrations when you hit certain posting milestones.

Negatives:

  1. Seeing other people’s happy moments can make you downplay your own.
  2. It’s not something I’d engage in with a ton throughout the day as my friends don’t use it and I’m not necessarily looking to see stranger’s happy moments consistently.
  3. Similar notification issues as Koko.

Overall thoughts:

I love the focus on happy moments and how, if you post consistently, you have this saved collection of wonderful things that have happened. The community is also very genuine and gives a place for people to practice gratitude. Again, there’s a cheesiness factor in that what people post can sometime seem a bit too happy focused. Otherwise though, I enjoy using it to post personal moments and, if I’m up to it, to share in other’s moments.

Quick Comparison:

Koko Happier
Anonymous Personalized
Sharing struggles Sharing happiness
Practice reframing Practice gratitude
Requires community input Can exist without community

Final thoughts:  Use both so that you can share & accumulate happy thoughts as well as learn how to reframe those struggles in your life and in other’s 🙂

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