Ignore social media metrics before abusing them

This is the first in a group of posts in which I explain why I have advised some clients to adopt a “dynamic brochure” social media strategy, focusing on publishing, active listening and “pulse” metrics while ignoring “performance”-related metrics.

Winning the social media game
Racking up “likes” in the addictive game of social media isn’t the same as delivering ROI

As a client once pointedly asked me, “how much social media do we need?”

The answer lies in measurements of both the pulse and performance of social media activity.

Yes, I know measuring social media performance is almost universally considered a best practice. No, I’m not intimidated or uneducated when it comes to metrics (quite the opposite: I have an undergraduate degree in social psychology from a department with a hard-core approach to statistical methods). I am opposed to the abuse of metrics, however, and I accept the fact that not every organization is prepared to use them correctly.

For many businesses, the measurements that are accessible aren’t actionable. And often enough accessible metrics are abused just because they are the only ones available. I advise those organizations not to focus on metrics, and the strategy described in this post is for those organizations.

What do I mean by pulse and performance? Let’s say you are Continue reading “Ignore social media metrics before abusing them”

Have you played one of the social capital games?

Bruce WilsonI’m reading two books about social media at the moment. One is “Trust Agents” (Chris Brogan / Julien Smith), about which I Tweeted yesterday “Loving Trust Agents! @ChrisBrogan and @Julien are Jim Collinses of relationship dev for networked professionals.”  (More in a future post.)

The other book, which I’m listening to in an audio edition, is very interesting (although I find the name distractingly silly every time I hear it–sorry, I’m just that immature). It’s “The Whuffie Factor,” by Tara Hunt, where the word “Whuffie” is a coined term meaning social capital. In it Tara Hunt provides many interesting and thought provoking examples of companies that engage with wider communities in beneficial ways using social media.

One intriguing topic that the book touches upon is social reality gaming–played offline, not online–that have virtual economies where people get points (not money) for doing good deeds in the real world. And these deeds can get paid forward by the folks on the receiving end, thus creating a happy circle of viral marketing. (I’m particularly interested in this topic because a friend is designing a system for tracking the “intangible” benefits of networking in professional situations which involve services performed without a contract and/or services not explicitly required under an existing contract.)

I haven’t delved into any of these games in detail, but just in case you have time and are curious, here are the three mentioned in The Whuffie Factor:

AkohaAkoha is the world’s first social reality game where you can earn points by playing real-world missions with your friends. Missions might include giving someone your favorite book, inviting a friend for drinks, or buying a friend some chocolate.” Acts of kindness can also be passed forward, thus virally engaging new players.

Cruel 2 B Kind – A game where people score points by performing random acts of kindness in public, which can also virally engage new players by inviting recipients of the kindness to participate.

Mini Motoring Hearts – BMW’s Mini group gives people spendable karma points with which they can purchase “swag” by answering requests for community volunteers and by performing
random acts of kindness.

A couple of months ago TechCrunch also posted this item about “The Whuffie Bank,” a startup which aims to assess the social capital people have acquired online and give them “spendable” points proportionately.

Does anybody who’s tried one of these care to offer your personal endorsement? I’m sorely tempted to try one myself.

Promoting a contest on Facebook? Heads up, new rules!

Bruce WilsonThis morning I learned via AllFacebook.com that Facebook has updated its rules for how businesses can promote contests on Facebook. The new rules are here.

If your business is promoting or planning to promote any kind of contest on Facebook, where contest entrants are selected for a reward either by random chance or because of merit, then this will probably change the way you promote your contest on Facebook. Particularly if you don’t want to have your business’s Facebook page deleted, causing you to lose all accumulated fans.

Although most of the rules seem geared towards companies that are using dedicated Facebook “applications” (specially created interactive offer pages) to manage their contents, and are spending enough money on their promotion that they will be assigned an account manager at Facebook, the rules apply to all types of contests promoted on Facebook. Even small ones.

Here are the three pieces of advice I gave to one small business client that wanted to promote its contest on Facebook without building a relatively expensive Facebook application just for this purpose.

1. Don’t mention the word “Facebook” anywhere when promoting the contest on Facebook. So we’re just saying: here’s our contest, contact us to enter it.

2. Offer an alternative way to sign up for the contest. My client has a physical place of business where most of its interaction with its Facebook fans is happening already. So customers can actually write out an entry and hand a piece of paper to someone working there. (I know, it’s old school, but a surprising number of people still know handwriting and paper is still widely available.) We’re also providing the company’s email address in the Facebook posts that promote the contest as an alternative “online” method of entering.

3. Don’t require people to do anything on Facebook as part of the contest. In other words, people have to be able to enter whether or not they are fans on Facebook and whether or not they post anything about themselves, your company, or the contest on Facebook. (This is easy to remeber if you are already following rule 1, above.)

Another approach: if there’s no reward, there’s no contest, and these rules don’t apply. Or if your deal is set up such that there are no winners and losers, in other words, everybody who signs up gets the reward, then its not a contest.  As far as I know you can still promote non-contests on your Facebook page which ask people to become fans, post something to Facebook, etc. in exchange for a reward. In the case of my client, if we wanted to make it a non-contest we could have eliminated the gift certificates going to the winners, or given everyone who entered something just for entering.

Finally, even if you use a dedicated Facebook application to run your contest, have received permission from your Facebook Account Manager, and otherwise follow all of the rules, please be aware that you are prohibited from rewarding the winners with a “prize or any part of the prize [that] includes alcohol, tobacco, dairy, firearms, or prescription drugs.”

Dairy? You betcha, that’s the rule. That leaves out most Starbucks products as prizes, for starters. OK, I’m taking this as a sign that these rules aren’t fully baked yet–watch this space for further updates (your cue to subscribe to this blog via email, RSS, or Twitter).