Social Networks for Business Tip #7: Don’t Be Greedy

I have found ten common tips that apply irrespective of what your enterprise does, your market is or what technology platform you are using. This is my seventh tip in this series. There will be 10 total posts; each with a particular theme. They are intended to be read in the order presented, as they build upon each other…

07

Is Greed Good?

We all remember this incredible quote by the pseudo-fictional Gordon Gecko in 20th Century Fox’s 1987 movie, Wall Street:

greed1…I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind…

We remember this because it is so emotive—regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it. Whenever I watch a clip of this, I usually hear people say that they would never be like Gordon Gecko. Yet, so many people build consumer-facing enterprise communities that are inherently “greedy,” i.e., they require you to register and provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before they let you access their content. (If you do not believe, me send me a note, and I will share some URLs with you.)

The 2009 Social Technographics Profile Demonstrates that Greed is NOT Good

For three years in a row now Forrester Research has published a “Social Technographics Profile” analyzing how consumers use social media technologies. This Profile shares to main insights that everyone needs to consider before designing a public-facing community for their enterprise.

Source: Forrester Researcg
Source: Forrester Research

First, people who visit communities do not start creating user-generated content on Day 1. As they grow more comfortable with the community (and with its use of social media technology) they move from Spectators (passive viewers) to Joiners (people who actually Register) on to Critics and Creators (people who add, rate or comment upon social media content).

Second, the vast majority of people who visit these communities do not create user-generated content. Most people visit to simply explore information of interest. The challenge for Community Managers is to get visitors comfortable enough to move from Spectators to Creators. This is not something that you can do in a single 30-second visit.

Source: Forrester Research
Source: Forrester Research

What This Means When You Are Designing Your Network

First-order analysis of the Social Technographics Profile provides two powerful insights:

  1. When you make people Join before you show them content you miss 60% your potential market and Return on Investment. (People will simply click the “Back” button and return to Google or Bing instead of registering)
  2. If you design your community specifically Creators you are designing for less than one-fourth of your market. (Stated another way, you are creating a sub-optimal experience for 76% of your visitors)

Based on this analysis, you should do three things:

  1. Don’t Build a Gated Community, let people see your content without needing to register
  2. Make simple viewing (and sharing) of content compelling and easy for Spectators. This will encourage them to visit often and stay longer
  3. Use Just-In-Time Registration and Sign-in. Only ask visitors to identify themselves at the first moment when they want to add to the community (e.g. Rating, Commenting upon or Adding content. (Better, yet see my Tip #6 as to avoid the need to register members entirely

Three Practitioners of This

Here are three communities that practice the above points very well. The first is a Contest Community, the second a Crowdsourcing Community, the third a Full Destination Community (See Tip #4 for an explanation of these social media network “tools”). Each makes  to it easy for a first-time visitor to explore these communities and progress from Spectators to Creators.

  • HGTV’s Rate My Space
  • Microsoft’s Voices 4 Recovery (TARP site – no longer active)
  • American Express OPEN Forum

Note: I selected these communities not only because they are easy to use but also because follow the principles I will outline soon in Tip #9 to ensure your communities are safe environments for participation.