links for 2007-12-19
Keeping tabs on the pulse of the Net

Are you social media fading? Dealing with dead apps and inactive users (part 1)

iStock_000003290791XSmall.jpgTime and attention are both finite and extremely valuable. I think we all can agree on that. In this world of BSOS (bright shiny object syndrome) there is a constant desire to check out the next new thing. However, there is a limit to the number of social networks and applications we can use before we start seeing overlap or clutter. At that point we have a decision to make. Cut and run, or stick it out.

If you're anythings like me, you have probably signed up for your fair share of social networks and new media apps with best intentions of using them to their potential. Service to remind me to wake up you say? Great. A social network for dead poet aficionados? I'll take two!

Sadly, it's just not possible to give every community the time it needs due to a lack of relevance or time. So when you let one of these apps sit for a while, do you think about it again? The popular term for this is fading. Simply add the network-du-jour in front the the word 'fade' and you've got it nailed. Twitter-fade, Face-fade, Space-fade, etc.

This is a natural occurrence in the web world and it's been happening since birth. 10 years ago people signed up for chat rooms and message boards only to abandon them or move on to the next best thing. Today it's social networks and micro-media apps which are being orphaned.

In the first part of this 2 part series, I want to look at what site owners can do when people fade and I want your input too.

Identify and classify your faders
Every social network or community site needs to have a plan in place for their members to identify the overall health of the community. There is no right or wrong way to do this either. Simply identify the actions that a user takes which add value and track how your members stack up in a given time period.

Here is an example:

User tracking for month ending 12/31/07:

Action Desired step % completed
Login Log in in to site 15 times 10% Engagers
Log in 6 times 15% Underachievers
Log in 2 times 35% Nomads
Log in 0 times 40% Slackers

Create a re-engagement plan for each segment
You'll find that each segment has its own set of challenges and opportunities and each will respond to different tactics and messaging. Fortunately the web affords us an easy way to test messages and deliver the right one to the right group. For example:

  • Engagers: People who are engaged in a community are often your strongest allies. These are your evangelists in the making and are usually receptive to you reaching out to them to see what their interests are and to thank them for participating. Virtual rewards (status on the site, moderation of message boards, etc.) could be a powerful, cost-effective way to reach this group.
  • Underachievers: This group is active, but something is keeping them from coming back more often. There is a possibility that you could make an impact here and have them move up to the engager group (which is the goal for all of these groups).
  • Nomads: This group is coming to the site at a sporadic pace. Make note of visiting trends to see what content brings them in. It could be promotions, stories in a specific category or simply be the day of the month they remember. The goal in this group is to increase awareness, show the value you add, make it easy to get them the content (RSS/email newsletter/etc.). These nomads wander the web without a home. Your job is to make them feel at home and not want to leave.
  • Slackers: This is the group with the largest number and least activity. All things equal, this group represents the largest opportunity to move members up a level. Email notices with offers or valuable content could be ways to reach this group and get them in the mix. They've most likely forgotten about you entirely so make sure that when you communicate you put your best foot forward, make them see the value and make it easy for them to get out completely. There is no sense in emailing a person who doesn't care about you or your offer.

Create a way to purge your list
This goes along with what I just said. If people are inactive and you can't seem to get them back, set them free. Not only will this make your list look better, but it will make your community stronger. Set up a rule along the lines of 2 stikes via email and you're out. It's fair, calculated and will benefit everyone.

So, you community managers out there, how do you deal with users that have slacked off or camp out every now and then? How do you re-engage people and create better relationships? Please do share!

Part 2 of this series will focus on the user-side. What should you do if things go inactive, what rules should you set and how can you keep track of everything you sign up for. That'll be tomorrow.

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