Have a Talk with Yourself About Social Media

With all of the banter about whether CEOs should be active on Twitter — I’ve realized that I might need to have a “sit down” with myself about social media. C-Suite executives must carefully consider how they invest and utilize their time on social platforms. So should the rest of us. Not that I fail to see the tremendous value of social networks, obviously I do. I simply would like to pause and reflect on how I am spending my time with social. Is the time spent valuable and productive? I would like to ensure that it absolutely is.

With every innovation — whether a product or process — we search for ways to effectively integrate that change into our lives. It can take a bit of time to assess best fit, as the pendulum usually swings with great momentum toward the innovation, (often with a significant investment in time to master it) and then ultimately swings back in adjustment.

In some cases, with any new piece of technology or system, there is a moment when you might suddenly discover that you’ve had too much of a good thing. (Not unlike the moment when you realized that you’ve had too much coffee or spent too much money.) At that moment, choices need to be made. Your investment needs to be reconsidered. In fact, you might need to become — for lack of a better descriptor —”picky”.

How do we make those difficult choices, to ensure that the time you are devoting is well spent? A set of criteria will help. Of course, that set will vary from person to person. But, here is the start of one:

  • What are the opportunity costs? This is an obvious, yet needed question. What would you be doing with your time, if you were not spending that hour with social media? This trade-off should work for you, not against you.
  • Is your time with social meaningful? When you consider your personal goals, is social media helping you attain them? Are you able to reach the right contacts or customers? Does social help you raise awareness for a cause close to your heart?
  • Does it solve a problem? Is the social platform addressing an issue or need that cannot otherwise be addressed? For example, if you have team members in the field, does a social platform improve communication or work flow?
  • Are we adding value? Ultimately, what we add to the landscape should have value. Are we opening the door to a much needed conversation? Clarifying an issue? Bringing forward an entirely new perspective?
  • Will it help to develop your role or organization? Can the perspective you gain through social, somehow be applied to the betterment of your job, career or current organization? For example, how a crowd sourcing platform, might bring ideas from customers into your organization’s purview.

What are your criteria for making decisions about spending time with social? How will you make these tough choices going forward? I’d love to know.

Crowdsourcing for the Rest of Us

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In today’s world, how do small to medium sized businesses leverage cutting-edge tools to improve day-to-day operations? Answer: Borrow the strategies of the big hitters such as  InnoCentive and Proctor & Gamble, then adapt them to meet your needs. One relevant example: crowdsourcing and it’s really just about listening.

Crowdsourcing is all about opening the lines of communication, forging new connections and gaining a new perspective. The concept may sound intimidating — but it is simply about listening respectfully and utilizing the information to move your business forward.  When implemented correctly, it can offer you information that can help business evolve effectively.

Your customers and crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing can augment your overall customer strategy. The process can not only offer a needed layer of protection when tracking a developing product or service problem, it also has the ability to collect customer ideas for future improvements. Starbucks, Cadbury and Toyota are a few of the companies gathering customer input, with links on their websites to gather ideas and feedback  — a strategy that any business can implement.

Other common social media platforms provide targeted crowdsourcing opportunities. Consider posting a question on your company Facebook Page, include a poll on your blog concerning options for product updates, or post an informational video on Youtube (you’ll get plenty of comments). You can also utilize your Google+ Brand Page to hold a hang out with your customers and explore ideas relevant to your business plan. Whatever the topic you choose to explore, be sure to keep the “call to action” simple and try not to overwhelm your customers in the process.

Get Creative
Organizations of all kinds, are connecting with their customers through crowdsourcing. Sweetgreen’s novel “New Years Resolution” campaign focused on developing a link with customers. By collecting resolutions through post-it notes at their physical store and on Twitter, customer relationships were forged and strengthened. You can utilize crowdsourcing to include your customers in your developing business story, whatever the topic.

Crowdsourcing within your organization
Crowdsourcing is not only about establishing a rapport with your customers, it can also open a new communication channel with your employees. It is possible to crowdsource just about anything within your organization — including ideas to solve inefficiencies within a department or a function. Have budget constraints? Want ideas on how to save money wisely? Pitch the question to your employees, as they are the experts concerning the day-to-day operations of your organization.

Does your organization routinely utilize teams to develop new ideas and solve problems? Social engagement platforms such as Jostle, offer opportunities to implement crowdsourcing within your day-to-day operations, by facilitating new connections and communicating current topics, challenges and opportunities. Essential elements for internal crowdsourcing. The platform provides opportunities to document team formation in response to ever-changing business needs. As explained by Brad Palmer developer of Jostle, “The idea is to connect people by encouraging the discovery of those within the organization. This facilitates cultural knowledge that can positively enhance effectiveness and extended teamwork.” As such, this information allows employees even somewhat removed from the work at hand to serve as a potential contributor or problem solver.

Before you shrug off the notion that crowdsourcing is inappropriate for your business — give the idea just one more thought. Implementing the process could offer you the needed edge to catapult your organization forward.

Check out this crowdsourcing infographic.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist located in East Lansing, Michigan. Contact her practice at marlagottschalk@comcast.net.You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

Are You Mature? The Struggle of Klout to Measure On-line Influence

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Observing the evolution and challenges faced by Klout, a venture designed to measure the on-line influence of an individual or organization, has been nothing short of fascinating. Changes in the Klout algorithm (and its impact upon scores) can send the world of social media into a frenzy. The overriding opinion seems to be that you shouldn’t “mess” with the numbers, right?

But, that is absolutely wrong — in fact, you should.

I have a very different perspective on Klout’s struggle to develop into a meaningful measure. I find the struggle to be quite predictable. Probably because where I come from, when a new construct and its measurement are proposed, it often takes a very long time to determine true value and identify prudent uses in the real world.

On one hand, the outcry that resonates after a scoring revision is an excellent sign. It lets us know that Klout, at the very least, was actively being considered as one measure of influence. On the other hand, it becomes obvious that the scope of the development phase, may have needed to be more controlled to allow for necessary iterations occur.

In psychology, the development of a new construct is an important and often long-winded process. However, when you consider the importance of measuring concepts, such as intelligence and motivation, the development of that construct — and its valid measurement — are paramount.

All in all, you must tread quite carefully.

A Framework
It may be useful to view Klout in reference to a few traditional elements of construct development:

  • Does Klout have Face Validity? In other words, does the idea and its components seem to make logical sense.
  • Does the measure demonstrate reliability? In other words, can the measure show consistency.
  • Does Klout possess Content Validity? Do the components that make up the measure adequately represent the elements of influence.
  • Does the measure have Construct Validity? When you look at scores on the measure, the scores should jive with other key markers of influence. (Convergent and divergent validity.)

There is another point to briefly consider here. Klout may be measuring “Potential to Influence” and not “Influence” itself. We simply do not know. As with other constructs, such as job satisfaction and its relationship with turnover — Klout scores may signal an impact on attitudes, yet the relationship with behavior, is not a causal one.

Time to Mature
All in all, Klout has to be allowed the time to develop fully. The algorithm should be subject to changes and iterations, as the organization sees fit, to adequately develop the measure.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.