>Promoting behaviors through real incentives

>When we talk about promoting behaviors we need to think about what it means to truly ‘promote’ a behavior. To do so means to create incentives aligned with that behavior — not just consequences or permission. So far in social media we have seen plenty of stories about companies creating a system of consequences for participation in social media (these stories tended to make headlines in no small part because journalists initially enjoyed pillorying social media that threatened their position as information gatekeepers). More recently we have seen more organizations giving *permission* to participate in social media and even permission for their businesses to become social businesses (eg actually engaging customers through digital social mechanisms). But I don’t know of too many examples yet where organizations have successfully created a system of incentives and recognition for their members/employees/leaders to build a social business. One of the major hurdles I see is that tendency to create perverse incentives that reward *quantity* of participation over quality — and they can lead to astroturfuring, spamming, meaningless contributions etc. This is simply because we *can* measure quanitity of participation pretty easily. My gut says that as we see more sophisticated systems emerge for analyzing, qualifying and tracking … individual participation we will see more organizations create the corresponding incentive and reward systems. Right now, while there is a crowded field of companies (including my own) that provide these services, I think it is a question of a paucity of really good tools to *simply* provide an organization with an analysis of the benefit derived by individuals’ participation. It’s a lot easier at this point to sense and respond to the infractions than it is to grasp the value created. I would love to learn about any examples of great reward and recognition systems….got one?

>The Real Life Social Network v2

>Thanks to Jeremy Althof for bringing Paul Adams’ presentation to my attention via twitter. The presentation is a very useful overview of how social networks really work and is a rallying call for web designers to design for the complexities of social networks involving multiple groups (whereas most social networks on line assume one big group.) Paul has some really interesting analogies, such as trying to plan the seating chart at a wedding — that particular one resonates especially for me as I’m getting married in late August! He also cites a bunch of interesting examples about how our usable network is typically capped at about 150 people and beyond that it’s extremely weak ties. I also found his observation about overstating the power of “influencers” to be quite true — it would be so convenient if it were true that all we have to do is reach one force magnifier and go home, but alas, it’s much more complicated than that and influence tends to be diluted by multiple influencers. Anyway, check it out:

>RE: What Social Media Will Look Like in 2012

>My friend Naomi Gilbert sent me a link to AdvertisingAge’s What Social Media Will Look Like in 2012. Not very controversial or mind-blowing predictions, but then again, the horizon that the author is talking about is pretty near (20 months.) Not sure I buy it on the googlewave thing…though that could come true if the google just starts integrating wave functionality into its email platform rather than asking people to migrate (they are already doing this, see: buzz.) The privacy piece is troubling for a number of reasons, but also a bit unrealistically gushing — there are places in the world that privacy laws are much, much more strict than America’s. The author is projecting a pretty American point of view (tho I don’t know where he hails from). These laws are not going to change in a 20 month timeframe to accommodate even the most enthusiastic digital marketers. But it’s true that they will change (when enough companies in those markets lobby for new laws because they begin to feel that they are operating at a disadvantage compared to companies in markets with more liberalized privacy laws.) Or maybe we will be surprised and citizens will realize that trading your privacy for $0.10 worth of free hosting and a little bit of amusing code isn’t actually a good deal.