Tag Archives: American Express

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…


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.

Social Networks for Business Tip #5: Remember, It’s Not Just About You

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


Social Networking is About Connecting People

peopleAs I wrote last month, the core purpose of Social Media is to connect people. Why? People ARE the network: at the end of the day ideas, work and achievements all come from people. As such our communities should always focused on making it easier for people (the real network) to find each other and share knowledge, experiences and insight with the purpose of to “get something done” that is important to them.

People Will Only Participate If Your Community Matters to Them

People are busy. They will not come to your community and take the time (and risk) of sharing something about themselves if you do not give them something in return. This means you need to make your B2C community about your customers; your B2E community about your employees and your B2B communities about your partners. If you don’t, they won’t bother to participate. If they don’t participate, you will have a “dead network” that creates little-or-no value.

What Happens When You Fail to Follow This Tip

psodI once saw a crowdsourcing community (from a Fortune 500) company that essentially existed to ask its customers to provide leads as to where the company could sell its products to make more money. Obviously, this was not a first priority to its customers.

It is not surprising that this community did not get much participation. While it was a technology success, it was far less of a business one.

On the Other Hand, Communities That Are Compelling Are Highly Successful

Here are three examples of three companies that created communities that focused, not on themselves, but instead on their customers. As a result, these communities were very popular and created a lot of value.

To show this tip is universal, I picked an example from each of these different types of community business services I highlighted in Tip #4. Click on the pictures to visit each community.


Would you be responsive to a company that asked you to give them ideas as to how to provide you a more satisfying product? Probably. (I would be curious as to whether the were going to follow my advice.)

Here is a shots from the main page of Dell’s IdeaStorm. You will notice two things. First, they focus on asking for ideas for their products that will make you more satisfied. Second they tell you how many of these ideas they have actually implemented:


This is compelling. It is worth customers’ time. That is why it is successful.


Have you ever wanted to lose fat, gain muscle or both? Many of us have. Would you go to site where you could get ideas for weight loss from people like you, get support for losing weight, and take advantage of a public weigh-in to incentivize you to stay on track? Tens of thousands of people have.

Here is a shot from Men’s Health’s Belly Off Community. Notice that it celebrates its members’ success and offers reward from better health to public acclaim.


This is rewarding to customers. This is why it is also a success.

Full Destinations

If you owned a small business, would you want your small business credit card provider to offer a place where you can get advice, publicize your company, and build connections with partners, customers and providers? I would. (Actually, I do as I am also a Managing Partner in my own boutique consulting firm, Oulixeus Ltd.)

Here is a highlight of American Express’ OPEN Forum. Notice all the relevant advice to small business owners:


This is useful. It makes life easier. This is why it, too, is a success.

Remember, It’s Not Just About You.