Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why should I care to respond

You give me Wiki, Blog, Twitter, Free webinar links, Forums, a chalk and talk or any medium of expression, why should I care to respond ?

If 1% is the contributor in social internet market place and just that the numbers are good enough to sustain the supply-demand balance, what do the 99% do? As a fact, it is accepted that this ratio is the reason why social media in workplace is a long shot away from main stream business benefit solution.

Should we ask the question Why do the 99% care not to contribute ? Are they introverted consumers, or careless/carefree personas who want more than give away or just lazy to express or suffer the "starter" block failing to overpower it?

Well, I too grapple these questions without answers. :( However, some pointers are showing up in interaction with my customers.

1. People who contribute tend to be known for it. In big meetings, you know for sure that a chosen few will start talking neverthless the subject. The same people do not miss the opportunity in the web medium. May be the 1% team.

2. Many of them make a start and expect a reaction. This is where many of the flops happen. To respond, we send automated messages without context as the reaction. This is a let down. Further a commitment is missing the other direction. Their feedback may be tangential. Still they need to be recognized as a valuable feedback and ask them to give more ideas.

With one of my customers, we were given the challenge that the sign off would be given to us only if 50 users certify their usefulness of the e-Learning course. We provisioned a feedback button to prove our worth. The customer brought the team who commented in the feedback in the room and asked what they meant in their feedback. The results were dramatic. Post the meeting, each of them met me individually and gave me enough feedback (offline) to
  1. explain how they work,
  2. what we need to rewrite,
  3. analogies to explain.
In fact, more than the sign off, the customer got an evangelist who is going out in the field to propogate the word. May be 1% higher conversion rate right ?

3. Cynics Feedback into account: "One more task in my plate. Whew!!" ,"How much should I handle?", "What is going on is atleast ok." The majority of the team, will fall in this arena. They cannot be brought their way into the fold. They would continue to be so. However, they must be the best people to tear apart the exisiting structure and suggest an alternate and better one. They need a story to let them know how useful their earlier feedback was and what improvements were made. Cynics can remain the same. Just that, they should be your alibi and not a liability.

4. Rule Followers: Some people will start to attempt only if a rule is made. It is better to follow a rule than spend time in what is not mandated by the society. Hence make it part of KRA, give some bonus points or any thing that is documented. You would see followers seeking results.

5. Determine Levels of contribution: It is long tail that matters as good as Top contributers: The person who occasionally respond is equally important as top contributers. However, levels are important to establish a motivation level to move up the ladder to encourage more contribution.

It still matters that contributors will be small % of the consumers.

"Why should I care to respond" is important consideration to address to get a good collaboration solution in place than a technical solution.

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