Sunday, January 24, 2010

Creating a Sense of Achievement in Social Media

I write SocialOptimized for the small and mid-sized business owners out there - the folks who shoulder the majority of the burden in their business, the folks who wear sixteen hats. The point of this blog is to ease you through at least one learning curve - because I've been where you are and I understand how it quickly gets overwhelming, having to add one more spinning plate to your already full set of spinning plates.

Social Media doesn't have to be a burden. In fact, it can be one of the most rewarding things you do for yourself and for your business. It's all about how you build achievement into your Social Media Strategy.

Let's talk games for a second.

I'm going to presume that you have played at least one game in your life - cards, a board game, an online game, an RPG, something.

Think about how a game is structured. There are rounds, or levels or hands. Each hand is played until the cards are used, each level is played until your character dies or you complete the level. At then end of the round, you are still in the game (as opposed to "out"), given gold for completing that level or points for winning that hand. In short - you are rewarded for your effort. There is a feeling of achievement for having done what you did.

Rewards programs are meant to provide a sense of achievement. Unfortunately, they often drop the ball when claiming rewards become more work than it's worth - a benefit for the company, but completely opposite the point for the consumer.

A few businesses are now building "achievements" right into their business model. Foursquare, which is the current Next Big Thing, offers whimsical rankings to users, and video-streaming site Crunchyroll actually awards "achievement badges" for various forms of participation. These achievements are meant to reward users for doing what they might already do on the site, and to encourage them to come back for more. This creates a sense of Engagement and Rewards the market at the same time.

Now, here's the challenge - building Achievement into the fabric of your Social Media Strategy.

Not only should you be Engaging your Audience and Rewarding your Market, but in an ideal Social Media Strategy, you've built in Achievement for yourself.

Anything that's fun and rewarding is something you want to do. Metrics can be "points," campaigns can be levels. Whatever the measure you choose, whatever the KPI you decide upon, build in levels of achievement, and reward yourself as well as your market, and you'll find yourself enjoying the whole process of connecting with people through Social Media.

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