Getting “Liked”: Is Content Overrated?

We are regularly bombarded with the message that “Content is King”, quickly followed by a plethora of methods, tips and even tricks on how to make our content more attractive i.e. being “Liked” by many. Social media has introduced the “Like” button so we can more explicitly signal our appreciation of the content that we are exposed to. But how much is appreciation directed by the “content” of that message and how much is that appreciation directed by the messenger? We have some recent analytics that provides some new insights on this.

Content or Messenger?

content-image

Doubt about the true value of content was first flagged by Canadian Philosopher Marshall McLuhan, with his often quoted “the medium is the message” statement in the 1960s. In the age of social media, this has now morphed into “the messenger is the message”, with the rise to prominence of the “Influencer”. Influencers are those rare individuals that can influence the buying behaviours of many, simply through the power of their personal recommendation. Think about your own “liking” behaviour on Facebook. How often would you “like” a passive Facebook advertising page, as opposed to “liking” a posting made by a human influencer, linking back to that very same page? This is a clear example of the power of the messenger, being more important than the message itself.

 

Enterprise “Liking”

I have recently written  about how the “Like Economy” we experience in consumer social networks may not map well when social networks move inside the enterprise in the form of Enterprise Social Networks (ESN). Unlike consumer social networks, we are unlikely to see advertisements tolerated in the ESN. But Enterprises often do want to send messages to “all staff”, particularly for major change initiatives they want staff to “buy into”. Regularly, corporate communications staff are keen to look at statistics on how often the message is read and even ‘liked’. But is this a true reflection of engagement with a message?

Our benchmarking of ESNs  has identified that “Likes” make up well over 50% of all activities undertaken on ESNs. In the absence of carefully crafted advertising sites, just what is driving our “liking” behaviour in the Enterprise? We decided to explored this by not looking at every message posted (for privacy reasons Swoop does not access message content), but by looking at patterns of who “Likes” were directed at. We aggregated the “Likes” from 3 organisations, from our benchmarking partners, for individuals who had posted more than 500  “Likes” over a 12 month period. Collectively, there were over 4,000 individuals that met the criteria. We then categorised their “Likes” according to:

“Like” Characteristic Interpretation
One-off (‘Like’ recipient was a once only occurrence) Attraction is largely based on the content of the message alone.
Repeat Recipient (‘Like’ recipient was a repeat recipient from this individual) Recipients are potentially ‘influencers’, so the motivation may come from the person, more so than the message content.
Reciprocated (‘Like’ recipient has also been a ‘Like’ provider for this individual) Recipients have a ‘relationship’ with the ‘Liker’, which drives this behaviour


‘Like’ Analysis Results

The results of our analysis is shown below:

like-analysis

The results show clearly that in the Enterprise context, the driver for ‘liking’ behaviour is the relationship. The data suggests that you are nearly 3 times as likely to attract a ‘like’ to your message from someone, if you had previously ‘liked’ a posting of theirs.

So what is the implications for the Enterprise?

If indeed an Enterprise is relying on counting ‘likes’ as a measure of staff engagement, one needs to encourage the formation of relationships through reciprocated actions as a priority, over spending time ‘crafting the perfect message’, or even on relying on influencers to build engagement. Specifically, one could:

  • Acknowledge a “Like”, in particular, if you have never responded to this person before.
  • Craft your important messages as a means to start a conversation, more so than a statement of opinion. Explicitly frame your statement as a question or explicitly ask for feedback.
  • Start to think about ‘engagement’ as more than a ‘read’ or a ‘like’ and more from a relationship perspective. How deep and broadly is your issue being discussed?
  • When you read advice from social media experts on “how to generate more ‘Likes’ for you content”, replace this with “how to generate more ‘relationships’ using your content”.

As I am writing this post I’m painfully reminded of the need to ‘eat your own dog food’. So I’m making a commitment that if you respond or ‘like’ this article, I will at least try to respond in kind!

likeimage

 

How do these results map with your own experiences?

Seeing How You Work, Changes How You Work – What’s Your Online Persona?

Our SWOOP Personas are having a much bigger impact than I expected. For a quick summary of the five personas see our previous posts: Observer, Broadcaster, Responder, Catalyst and Engager. In summary, these personas provide you with insights into your online behaviour on your enterprise social network.

I recently spoke to a community manager about this, and he told me this wonderful story about the impact the personas has had in his organisation. One of his colleagues, a senior manager, had been receiving help from a communications specialist to write updates on the Enterprise Social Network.

However, when the community manager showed the senior manager how little she had used the ‘Like’ feature, she realised two important things. Firstly, she was missing out on the positive recognition a ‘Like’ can provide the recipient, especially in her role as a senior manager. Secondly, she realised that she couldn’t outsource posting, replying and liking to her communication specialist. Interacting on an enterprise social network is a deeply personal thing, and as ex-CEO of Telstra David Thodey told us in a recent interview, he found the most important thing in generating transformational chance was to have authentic conversations with staff. The senior manager now does her on posting, replying and liking, and for me this really shows that:

Seeing how you work, changes how you work.

In CUA, an Australian bank piloting SWOOP to drive adoption of their Enterprise Social Network, they also saw the power of these simple personas in creating a common language so you can think about what you do, and what collaborative profile would be most effective for you. For instance, a communications specialist might operate best as a Broadcaster and a technical expert as a Responder. We generally consider the Engager to be the persona that all people managers would want to be, but a lot of the real value lies in reflecting over what you are, and what you ideally should be.

What is your SWOOP Persona?

By now you might be wondering what your own persona is. Answer the following questions to get started. Please note that your persona is not dependent on volume of your online activities, but the relative spread of what you do (post/reply/like) and what you get back.

When I am using my Enterprise Social Network… Not like me Some-times like me Like me
1. I post links to, or attach, interesting content I think people want to know about
2. I post updates to my team/colleagues about things they need to know
3. I call out colleagues for a job well done
4. I ask people for help with problems/challenges
5. I reply to requests for input/assistance where I can add value
6. I often prompt people to participate (@mention/notify others)
7. I hit ‘Like’ whenever I see a post/reply that I like, or something I want to show support for
8. My posts always get replies and/or likes
9. I am often encouraged by others to add input (am being @mentioned/notified)
10. I read posts, but don’t participate myself

Now, review your answers and determine which persona you think you are. Is that what you’d like to be?

SWOOP Personas

If you are with an organisation that has SWOOP running, then you should jump in and have a look at if your self-perception mirror reality. I’ve always thought of myself as an Engager, and must admit to you that I was pretty guttered when I saw that I was a Broadcaster on our network. My knee-jerk reaction was “Why aren’t you responding or liking the stuff I post!”, but my wonderful co-founder Laurie Lock Lee calmly said “Well – maybe you need to think about what you’re posting.”. I, of all people, should know this. I mean, we actually created the SWOOP persons to provoke this exact conversation, but it still hit me pretty hard as it was suddenly about what I was doing and not about what other people weren’t doing. It got very personal. I started to reflect over the posts, and replies that I had been making, and thinking about ways to make it more engaging. I tried to ask for more feedback by @ mentioning people, and also started to think more about what actually generates value for others rather than just focusing on things I think they need to know.

By seeing how I worked, I managed to change how I work. For the time being I am an Engager, but I know I’ve got to keep an eye on my persona to ensure that my changed behavior is locked in. This is not set and forget just yet!

Not on SWOOP yet? Try our 2 week free trial to check it out and get your SWOOP persona.