Social Media Stickiness Survey Results

Here are the results from the social media survey I fielded on social media stickiness. The idea of stickiness is interesting to me and in this survey, I assumed (and asked mostly about) the effect of following others affect stickiness. The assumption being that stickiness is due to those you follow, not those who follow you. There’s an obvious Twitter bias in my questions too.

Not scientific. Just some fun questions. Thanks to all of you who took the time to answer.

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Respondents had to choose the best answer that matched their motivations. The questions really asks if they use social media to interact/listen or broadcast. Most use social media to interact and listen. That’s heartening.

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53.8% of respondents indicate that less than 30% of those they follow or important to them. That kind of surprised me. I wonder if the results would have been different if I broke it down by social media service.

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About 64% of respondents said leaving a site would take 50% or more of the people they follow leaving for them to leave. IOW, the value of the social media experience is tied up in those you follow. I figured it would take more than a few people to leave to impact the visitation of others but I assumed that there would be more people selecting higher percentages. I also thought there were quite a few people willing to jump ship if less than 10% of those they follow left.

The Social Media Adoption Sine Wave. I don’t claim to know the how VC’s decide to fund start-ups, especially Internet based start-ups, but I do feel the impact as a consumer. Social media is all the rage and the development cycle is 1) get something out there, 2) wait for user input on features, 3) build those features. However, what ends up happening is that the service is crap and usually stays that way. Where is the vision that is deserving of funding?
Here is what happens, I think, with the typical user at a Internet based start-up.
Hill of Discovery: Hey, something new! Let’s go check it out!
Plateau of Expectation: That’s it? I can post pictures and tag them with words?
Decline of Novelty: Ok, let’s give this a chance and see what occurs.
Wiggles of disengagement: OMG! They are sending me gazillion emails for every action! Must. Turn. Off!
Valley of Loneliness: No one is here that I know and no is talking to me or each other.
Plateau of Comparison: Flicker, Twitter, Facebook, <Whatever> does this better AND there is engagement there.
Splinter of something shiny: Oh look! Something new! Go climb the Hill of Discovery.
Off-ramp of disinterest: Whatever.
Community Attraction: Growth is accumulative. As more join, more are attracted. Few companies get this far.
This graph was inspired by Gartner’s Hype Cycle, more recently the Start-up Curve on Fred Wilson’s blog, which is a cleaner version of this, and general silliness. Any scientific conclusions are yours, not mine.

The Social Media Adoption Sine Wave. I don’t claim to know the how VC’s decide to fund start-ups, especially Internet based start-ups, but I do feel the impact as a consumer. Social media is all the rage and the development cycle is 1) get something out there, 2) wait for user input on features, 3) build those features. However, what ends up happening is that the service is crap and usually stays that way. Where is the vision that is deserving of funding?

Here is what happens, I think, with the typical user at a Internet based start-up.

  1. Hill of Discovery: Hey, something new! Let’s go check it out!
  2. Plateau of Expectation: That’s it? I can post pictures and tag them with words?
  3. Decline of Novelty: Ok, let’s give this a chance and see what occurs.
  4. Wiggles of disengagement: OMG! They are sending me gazillion emails for every action! Must. Turn. Off!
  5. Valley of Loneliness: No one is here that I know and no is talking to me or each other.
  6. Plateau of Comparison: Flicker, Twitter, Facebook, <Whatever> does this better AND there is engagement there.
  7. Splinter of something shiny: Oh look! Something new! Go climb the Hill of Discovery.
  8. Off-ramp of disinterest: Whatever.
  9. Community Attraction: Growth is accumulative. As more join, more are attracted. Few companies get this far.

This graph was inspired by Gartner’s Hype Cycle, more recently the Start-up Curve on Fred Wilson’s blog, which is a cleaner version of this, and general silliness. Any scientific conclusions are yours, not mine.

My New Go To Example Of “Missing The Point”

Yeah, I admit it, I use Quora. It’s on my daily rounds of Internet sites. I tend to hit the site a few times a day and answer questions and post comments when I have the time. I can’t say I am a huge fan, but it’s OK. I like the social aspect of it over, say, a topic oriented bulletin board or list. I like to see what other questions people I follow are following and answering. I come across some interesting questions and answers that way.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my timeline—the first thing I see when I go to quora.com—was filling up with these messages about who followed who(m?) such as when someone I didn’t follow followed someone I do follow. Or that someone followed a topic. It got to the point where the top of my timeline was filled with these useless messages and buried the questions (what I came to Quora for in the first place) down the page or *gasp* below the fold. 

I posted the question How Can I only get topics in my Quora Feed? Marc, a Quora employee, replied “You need to unfollow any people or questions that you are following now. Then you’ll only be following topics.” 

That misses the point entirely. In a social site, users follow others because presumably they are interested in what those they follow are doing. I get that but that is the also the need to let users tailor their experience as they want it. Being told to drop the social aspect of Quora is silly. 

What I really want, is to see in the timeline, what I want to see when I visit the site. I can always go look at the social side at other times. Take Twitters new @reply timeline on the web site. I can choose to see just replies to me (which is what I care about), or I can optionally see other activity relating to me (who followed me and what lists I have been added to). I can also look at the Activity timeline to see what is happening with those I follow. 

I can see what I want to see when I want to see it. That’s the point.

Twitter As A Resource

I like Twitter for a number of reasons—the social interactions, following up on what others find interesting, posting things others hopefully find interesting, etc. As someone who works from home 100% of time, Twitter is a good social outlet.

Twitter is also a resource provided you follow the right people (subject matter experts, people with the same interests as you) and they follow you. Today I was doing some testing I had a question about a Catalyst port configuration. Three years ago, I would have known the answer but today it was lost in the accumulated noise. While I was reading the documentation on CCO, I posted the question “How to speed up Ethernet Port configuration on a Catalyst 3750?” Within a few minutes I had my answer not from CCO, but from @etherealmind, @santinorizzo, and @bobx on Twitter. Enable portfast. After a resounding face palm, I did and life is good.

That was an easy one though and I would have found the answer eventually, but some kind people on Twitter saw my question and took 10 seconds to answer it saving me tons of time.

I had a more difficult question several months ago about Javascript and in the evening, I posed my question and within a few moments, someone from Budapest replied with an answer. We went back and forth a bit because I didn’t understand what he was telling me and he patiently explained it. Someone I didn’t know half a world away took a few moments to help a stranger.

I know Twitter and social media isn’t for everyone, but when I hear someone dismiss it as trivial and frivolous, I just smile and shake my head.