I will admit when social networking first came out i thought it as a tool for teenage girls. It had become evident that this phenomenon wasn’t going away. I admit looking at the time of when My Space first became a main stream tool for people to promote them selves (much like companies have been for years), I was not keen enough to see the explosive possibilities.
Today however we live in a different world. The social networking world today has adapted to do things. I recently heard about a challenge represented by 40 school throughout the country. Upon reading this story i was astounded. So I will post this for you to read.
A social network that ballooned
The moral of the story is that 10 (red) weather balloons were raised at undisclosed locations with no indication, or hints for the challengers to follow. MIT had the idea of using an incentive based system to disperse the winnings among collaborators via social networks. The balloons had all been found with in 9 hours. To some this might be a useless factoid, but to those who work with in the perception changing business (like marketing, politicians, lobbyist, the list goes on), that is not a quizzical scrap, it is a game changer.
I know I’m a bit of a satirist when it comes to these things, but I couldn’t help to wonder why this (technology) has not be used to find “Osama bin jerkface”? That point can be left for another day.
What is so organic about MIT’s model of course is that even though people knew they would receive less money if they got other people involved, they still did it. This behavior is uncommon. When incentives are given out people tend to keep the information to them selves unless absolutely necessary. This experiment forced people to fundamentally change their ideology and human nature to succeed.
How this pertains to companies and institutions:
People will always benefit most in a social network. With out the peoples inherent cause to participate in the network, there is no network. Being in a conversation you know nothing about is just as embarrassing on the web. I often see companies spending valuable resources on social media with out a set goal. The overall goal is to “enhance the brand”. I hear this all the time. Companies spend between $50,000.00 – $115,000.00 a year to retain digital agencies for just this service alone. I will admit for that kind of money you can attract a lot of “Fans” to your Facebook account, and even more “Followers” to your Twitter account, but most companies don’t even bother to ask why.
Perhaps we misunderstood the true nature of social media. Companies should embrace this “call to action” methodology when it comes to social media. We know from terrorism to global warming that we (humans) often come together only when we have no option not to.
To give credit where credit is due some companies have tried this method before for example Century 21 Real Estate ran a campaign of uploading your video of your home to YouTube to receive incentive. Read the full story here. I have observed that the people who are really using this technology the most efficient way are club promoters. Some of them can now deliver thousands of people almost over night to any given destination. I am not suggesting that we begin using social networking just like promoters do, but also not aimlessly as well. Its time companies started to engage their social networks as “relational networks”. The gap between the two can be seen as small and insignificant, however i argue it is what makes the difference between your next event being a success versus a failure.