Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Social Media Rant : Influence, Reach and Gamification

A few facts first:

This is a rant:

  • I love Social Media
  • I love getting a mention on social media
  • The rant is about the gamification of social media, and why the term 'Top Influencers' is wrong
Two points of my view (is that the correct plural of My POV?)
  1. Influence is difficult to measure, reach is not.
  2. Social Media is an incredibly important platform for people who influence, especially those non traditional influencers. If you are a subject matter expert and talk about what you think, people will listen and what you say may influence them. 
I put myself in this last category, I think I am influential in the areas I talk about, and social media gives me a platform to share my views and be listened to.

This post is not aimed at any individual it is about how I feel about the terms used. If I don't like what people have to say I simply can unfollow.

Gamification is an excellent way to drive behaviour.

I recently read this blog from diginomica on a practical example of gamification to drive adoption of a new product internally in an organisation.

But you must ensure that the competition element mirrors what you are trying to drive, and that the competition doesn't become more important than the intended behaviour.

A very clever analyst Frank Bytendijk once told me that when people measure things we change our behaviour to influence these metrics.

His example for driving behaviour was that he used the technology in his running shoe to log how much he ran. This is not a bad thing, in fact it was a very good thing and had a very positive outcome that he lost weight and got fit. This is the positive side of gamification. However one day he started his run but came home after just 5 minutes, his wife asked why and he said the battery had died and there was no point running if it wasn't being tracked!

That is a funny example about gamification for an individual, but I see many examples for group behaviour where the game becomes the most important thing.

Dan Pink , who writes about gamification, has a great interview with another expert Kevin Werbach where Kevin says - 

"any time you create a game, someone will try to exploit the system" 

My own example for that is at a conference last year, the mobile app gave points for 'tweets'. It was intended to drive the traffic about the event and to create the buzz, excellent. It also gave points for assessing speakers, to drive the feedback, again an excellent idea but then some of those who were battling for a place on the leader board worked out you could assess sessions you hadn't attended and still score points. This completely invalidated the intent. 

Kevin went onto say - 

"That’s not necessarily a danger, though, if you anticipate it. Those are your most engaged players, and you can often redirect their energy in a positive way, such as giving rewards for finding bugs in the game."

In my example case of the mobile app, there is a very simple fix, limit the available points to the number of sessions that could be attended. I blogged about this at the time.

I can't remember who, (but if I work it out I will amend blog), but I heard a danish BI Analyst talk about the importance of measuring the right things, for the right reason.

Telecomms companies use data to determine what they need to change to drive more sales. They have lots of data and he once worked with one such company who had determined that females renew contracts 70% of the time whilst men only 40%. He asked them what value did that metric give them? They didn't know, and he asked what they would do about it, as a telecoms company you can't change men into women. Later on they realised that actually it did tell them something, money spent on advertising to the female population was better spent, as the probability to renew was higher.
So my point I am trying to make here is that data used has to show something very specific to be of value, or to be at so high a level it doesn't matter.

I like Klout, it is very generic, it doesn't care what I talk about and just says how active I am in social media. But at a more granular level 'the top ten influencers' in a specific field is factually incorrect. The data is pulled from an algorithm based on followers and reach. It does not determine how much of what is said is taken in and influences.

I follow Ray Wang, and he is going to be right up there at the top of any of these leaderboards every time, (actually I think there are clones of Ray if anyone like me wonders how he is so prolific). I know Ray is an influencer because I see his research quoted over and over in decision making processes.

Equally Larry Ellison is the top influencer at Oracle. He probably is, when he speaks, everyone listens, but in social media he has sent 1 tweet. Yes just one, but he has 50K followers and each of those have many 
followers and whatever the algorithm is it determines that his reach is the highest.

Even more annoying to me are the 'Thanks @debralilley for being the top influencer in my community this week' - or even worse 'the top contributor' when all I have done is responded to or re-tweeted twice - I know these are auto generated but honestly they drive me mad.

So again I reiterate:
  • I love Social Media
  • I love getting a mention on social media

Oddly I am not suggestion we stop the gamification, or even the league tables, apparently (and I apologise I don't have a reference), the bigger the pool the more indicative the data will be. 

But please, you can measure social media reach, which may be indicative of influence providing the gamification is not driving the wrong behaviour.

Rant over....

1 comment:

Tim... said...

Thank you for being top blogger on you personal blog this week!