Having worked heavily in the online software industry that last decade, I suppose it’s not a surprise that more folks are seeking my advice on the development and enhancement of their platforms – especially with regard to social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes an application optimized for social media.
- Syndication – the majority of applications start and stop with this step. They simply use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other applications as a place to force their message into each of those networks. This is the bare minimum of social media optimization… delivering your message into your network, wherever they are located. It doesn’t truly leverage social media.
- Reaction – If you’re pushing your message out to social media, how is your application or business dealing with the reaction to that messaging? Are you recording responses, responding to reactions? Are you adjusting your strategy accordingly? A conversation is only a conversation when both sides are listening and speaking with one another.
- Reward – What’s the reward for responding or participating? If you’d like ongoing quality interaction to fully leverage social media, the participants must be rewarded. This doesn’t mean you have to spend money – it could simply be providing the information requested. It could also be virtual credit in the form of point systems, titles, badges, etc. Unless your rewards are directly impacting revenue, you’re going to have to keep a close eye on this. I’ve watched quite a few social media optimized applications rise and fall immediately when their rewards systems were broken or static.
- Analytics – This is such a missed opportunity… so many applications dive into social media integration but neglect to measure the impact of that communication. The volume of traffic your business, product or service can attain by tracking the viral nature of social media is enormous – but you need to ensure you’re accurately measuring it so that you can determine how many resources to apply to it.
- Targeting – the ability to target messaging to prospects in social media can improve overall adoption and use of your application. If you can target your application by keyword, geography, interests, behaviors, etc., you’re going to have much deeper engagement with your audience.
- Replication – users don’t like bouncing back and forth between applications, so bring the user experience to them. If your users are on Facebook, try to bring as much of your user experience there that makes sense. If the conversation is on your site but started from Twitter, bring Twitter back to your site. This was a key reason that I recently dropped IntenseDebate and picked up Echo by JS-Kit. JS-Kit effectively brings conversations across several social media applications and integrates them directly with The Marketing Technology Blog’s commenting system.
If your company is looking to expand your applications or strategies into social media, be sure to have a complete strategy. Blasting your message across a bunch of social media applications may have a little bit of impact – but optimizing your strategy can fully leverage the incredible power of it.
Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is to enable the power of social media by building a programmatic or virtual bridge between your business and the medium. Once you effectively build that bridge, watch out!