I owe you an explanation.
Those of you whom have been following my blogs and podcasts closely know that I am big on this authentic engagement stuff.. yet I have been rather MIA. I’ve been automating my social media more than I’ve been engaging, breaking my very own cardinal rule. And where are the blog updates and new #NJAB updates?? Egads!
Why have I been neglecting my social media homebase, my baby, Y3B?
Well, you know that elusive social media break-through all of us are aiming for (no, it’s not Pinterest or StumbleUpon)? I found mine.. and the opportunity is there for you, too!
For well over a month now, I’ve been working with an exciting business called Social Prize. Started off as a consultant and now I am part owner/partner (but that’s for another conversation). Now, before I go ranting and raving about how awesome sauce this project is, I want to share some value with you.. because that’s what I do here on Y3B!
Social Prize is an engagement and rewards platform that helps you rapidly grow your audience without breaking the bank. We’re combining game mechanics, social media, and analytics to create a member-driven experience where relevant brands can connect with the consumers that are truly excited about them.
We’re listening to our audience and giving them what they want, killing the noise and shifting from quantity to quality (good-bye mass/interrupt marketing). I’d like to share some of the things we are doing to help small businesses and lean start-ups grow (and how you can apply these principles in your own business)…Active Listening
Lean startup methodologists like Eric Ries and Ash Muruaya (I probably butchered his last name again) are big advocates of the measure-learn-build feedback loop.. And with good reason: it’s an effective competitive edge! You see, most stick to assumptions and unproven business hypothesis, but measuring and learning ensures you meet real needs and deliver true value.
At Social Prize, we simply call it active listening. How we do it is by developing our own stats and scoring system, deploying instant feedback channels, and integrating third-party analytics.
Some of the tools we use and recommend include HootSuite, Hashtags.org, Commun.it, SocialBro, Twylah, KISSinsights, and KISSmetrics. Of course, if you love freebies like we do, you can’t go wrong with Google Analytics and WordPress. They just take more tweaking than most wish to go through.
What excites me most about collecting all these metrics is that we go beyond KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). We’re connecting behaviors with results to make these insights more actionable. Hmmm, we may finally demystify this whole social media [engagement] ROI/ROM stuff!
It’s fairly common knowledge that sweepstakes are great for audience re-activation but the issue of contention is whether or not they’re good with audience re-engagement. I think the better question is:
Can sweepstakes maintain constant engagement?
I may be biased, but I think it is possible.. And we already have! Part of the “secret” is to create opportunities for building ongoing conversations and incentivizing daily activity.
At Social Prize, our campaigns are social sweepstakes. We make a game out of activities, building a captive audience waiting to learn about new products and brands.
The rewards go beyond the grand prizes. There’s social interaction, samples, discounts, and more awaiting the biggest social media enthusiasts, influencers, and brand advocates. We still have so much more to do to add gaming layers and create instant win opportunities, but we’ve got some cool stuff going on today!
Sure, the big prizes are the initial draw with all sweepstakes but what if contestants returned daily to engage with brands, small businesses, and like-minded consumers? Imagine if they could win stuff by doing these simple little things. That’s exactly what we’re doing with Social Prize.
Gabe Zichermann often discusses the power of surprise and delight in game mechanics. The idea is to recognize, if not reward, your biggest fans and supporters, regardless of whether they are paying customers or not. These folks are adding value to your business and spreading brand awareness.
How can you surprise and delight your audience?
It’s easier than one may think.
Surprise and delight starts with recognizing those that do the things you see as valuable and thanking them. The folks that do this because they like you and/or they enjoy your products really care.. And you should too!
Gratitude is lacking in today’s business world. We see loyalty and retention programs that throw scraps at customers threatening to leave or those that spend tons of money. Typically, the overall savings (after mark-ups) and compensation these customers see are about 5% or less of what they spend, at best. Not very exciting.
Instead of offering blanket solutions, follow the lead of your favorite papa-and-mama shop: get to know your best customers and supporters by name and let them know you are noticing their efforts. It may take time and money to keep building these folks up but they’ll bring you referrals and offer valuable feedback to truly grow your business.
We have a groovy team over at Social Prize. Our experience with social media, data warehousing, content marketing, inbound marketing, game development, and lean start-ups gives us many tools (and many hats to wear) to help our clients. Blogs, eBooks, webinars, social media engagement, and so much more await businesses looking to have fun and grow.
Back to incentives (perhaps I got a bit carried away), our platform offers tools to help you recognize and reward these superstar supporters. Imagine building a fan into a brand ambassador, someone who promotes your brand and products as if they are on your payroll. Few folks can say they have a Megan Berry, Seth Godin, or Guy Kawasaki in their corner but combining constant engagement with incentives can lead you to your very own brand evangelist(s)!
Incentives can be simple things and should match the behavior or event. If someone mentions you on Twitter all the time, just because, why not send them a special coupon code or discount voucher? If they refer some friends over, a $25 gift card or referral credits can be a great surprise. Now, if they land you a huge deal, you better offer them something good, including credits on your documentation, cool swag, and perhaps a trip to a company event.
Incentives can be intrinsic or extrinsic, virtual or tangible, free or paid.. But make sure that, whatever you do, you’re giving credit where it’s due.. Oh yeah, did I mention Social Prize can help you with that? #justsayin
Take That, Klout!
If you’re like me and many savvy social media professionals, you probably think Klout is full of it. Their platform assumes certain people are important and others are not; thus, you inherit influence by interacting with those important people.
Let’s be frank (or Sam, Sally, or Janet, if you prefer): the “A List” influencers may have massive audiences but they’re rarely engaging and their influence takes longer because the one-on-one rapport, the trust dynamics, are lacking. Countless studies are finally uncovering what we social media veterans have already known: engagers with small, tightly-knit social circles are the true influencers.
This is where the biggest challenge comes in (beyond the initial measure-learn-build loops):
How can you gauge the value of a lead without making assumptions?
True reach is a good start because simply looking at total followers and subscribers can inflate value. Instead of looking at mass, Social Prize is looking at actions and re-actions, plus the consistent behaviors, results, and trends thereof. Here are some of the metrics social media experts should be looking at:
- Time To React
- Time On Page
- Average Time Between Actions
- Network Re-Actions
That’s just the beginning but really gauging social media ROi, if you’re going to accurately (and fairly) measure influence and engagement, takes many metrics and dimensions. To date, the processes and algorithms employed just haven’t been inclusive enough.. It’s more of a DEmotivator.
I won’t lie: we’re not quite there yet with measuring influence but the Social Prize (SP for short) Score is a great start as it averages out behaviors and looks for consistency and personal touch. We’re trying to move away from mere message amplification/wide reach and focusing on relevancy, engagement, and commitment.
Of course, there’s Kred, PeerIndex, EmpireAvenue, and countless other social influence benchmarking platforms. What’s different with us is that we have our own context to measure, so we’re not merely relying on spammy metrics on various social networks. ;)
I repeat: take THAT, Klout!
Have You Done Sweeps?
With my ranting and raving about Social Prize out of the way (for now), I am wondering if all this has made you consider how you approach social media and where you spend your time.
- Have you ran sweepstakes or contests before?
- Have you participated in them?
- What would you like to see in social media engagement and influence metrics?
- Do you think sweepstakes are generally well-received and credible?
We’ve already received some interesting feedback regarding these issues but I’d like to hear what you think.
If you want to learn more about Social Prize and how to get more from social media, please visit the Social Prize Engage & Win Blog. I’ll be spending more time there for the next three months or so but I’ll be in my usual hangouts (i.e. Triberr, StumbleUpon, and Twitter), too!