Help me confidently add social media-er director-thing to my resume!
October 31, 2011 8:00 PM   Subscribe

My boss has given me a weekly budget to run "social media" bonuses for our employees (finicky teenagers). Social media experts, any tips on how to make this project effective? Also ideas for bonuses/challenges very welcome and appreciated.

So I work for a company who hires managers who hire teen sales reps to do door-to-door sales. The company is in the process of re-branding, remodeling, etc. and one of the things we’ve started doing is mass texting our reps and doing regular posts on our Facebook page every week.
I began to realize that the mass texting this was kind of annoying to kids and no one was participating on the Facebook that much because they weren’t getting anything out of it. I brought this up to my boss and convinced him to give me a weekly budget of $50 to run text and Facebook bonuses every week.
My idea: I would text everyone one day a week with a question, for example: “What are the steps of the sales presentation?” and the first one to text back would get a movie pass/gift card/etc. Or it could be something creative like come up with a good slogan or something. I would do one on Facebook with a different theme.
I think the idea is good- kids will like it because (on top of their paychecks and many other cash bonuses we throw out) they will be constantly winning STUFF (giftcards, tickets, etc.). Ultimately we want to stimulate online interaction between reps, a site where parents and friends and kids can look at be jealous, keep the kids happy etc.
Is this the most effective way to go about this? Will this work? Is there anything I’m missing?
Also, I am having a hard time trying to think of challenges for the kids. The steps of the system was easy, I just did a Halloween costume contest one, I’m considering a trivia one, etc. I would ideally like to do creative ones where the reps think of the answer, or answer a question to something but it’s hard for me to tell what teenagers will think is lame or cool/fun. Any suggestions for things I could do would be extremely helpful.
Also, any suggestions for cool prizes would be appreciated. They’re usually between 14-17. For prizes so far my ideas are things like gift cards to food places, iTunes cards, movie tickets but I’m not exactly sure what’s trending in that age group. MY budget is $50/week but I want to kind of fluctuate the value of the prizes based on how difficult the challenges are. For example something creative I’d maybe throw out a prize worth $30 and an easy one $10 gift card.
posted by ad4pt to Technology (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'd like to add, any online resources, articles, book, etc. would be immensely helpful. Also, just some context, before using these bonuses we were using mass texts and Facebook posts exclusively for recognition. I think it got tedious because the same kids were continuously being recognized and also some kids didn't like it because they only wanted texts if it was concerning them specifically.
posted by ad4pt at 8:11 PM on October 31, 2011

Instead of bribing them to engage your company in social media, can you make it actually useful for them to do it? I mean, none of their friends are bribing them to post on their Facebook wall, but they do it because it is fun and useful. Are there ways that interacting with the corporate Facebook page can help them do their job better and achieve their "cash bonuses" more easily? Are there ways that your corporate social media presence can help them interact with each other more readily? Off the top off my head I am thinking about some kind of shift-swapping mechanism -- let them find someone to switch shifts with by posting to the corporate wall. That may or may not work, based on your specific business, but there has got to be some way you can provide actual value to them through Facebook/Twitter/texting instead of just prizes, because for every person that is psyched to win a gift card, there are a dozen who are pissed that they missed out again.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: You bring up a good point, I would love to think of ways to engage them aside from bribing but I just can't think of any. The switching shifts thing wouldn't work because they have to go through their managers to switch and they operate in different geographical locations but it's an interesting idea.

I'm not even entirely sure that what we want- building engagement/solidarity between the kids, more loyalty toward the company- is even possible through these mediums.
I guess I'm thinking that since this is a job for them, more material benefits=interest.
Beyond recognition and prizes I can't think of what else they could gain from participating, however I don't want this to fail and I think it is possible to get somewhere with this.

It is also possible for me to do geographical team-specific bonuses where the whole team wins something. I would like to create inter-team interaction but I'm not quite sure how to do that.

ALSO AN IMPORTANT THING I FORGOT TO ADD is that it is a very small company and we have only about 30-50 reps at a time.
posted by ad4pt at 8:34 PM on October 31, 2011

Related: danah boyd's work on kids and social media. Thinking of the site as a hangout to develop, rather than as a honeypot, might yield better results.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:37 PM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

The switching shifts thing wouldn't work because they have to go through their managers to switch

But do they have to? Maybe there is some way that the existing procedures and practices can be bent or altered to fit into the new social spaces you are trying to create.

I guess I'm thinking that since this is a job for them, more material benefits=interest.

Yeah, I agree, but I wonder if there is some way to have that material benefit be improved job performance (better results/easier results/more efficient), not randomish prize contests.

I'm not even entirely sure that what we want- building engagement/solidarity between the kids, more loyalty toward the company- is even possible through these mediums.

Well, that's the real question then, isn't it? Figure out exactly what you want including measurable results, and then find a tool to create them. Just because you got a new tool doesn't mean it is the right one for the job -- you don't hammer a nail with a screwdriver.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:55 PM on October 31, 2011

This plan seems flawed. I know of no businesses off the to of my head where the employees engage with each other on company-run social media platforms. (I'd be interested in examples where I'm wrong.)

Also, your use of Facebook is not native or fluent. Weekly? Dude, for your target audience, it's daily - minimum - or you're a faux Facebook user. If you are committed to this plan, try one $10 gift card 5 days a week, at different times of day.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:12 PM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: This plan seems flawed. I know of no businesses off the to of my head where the employees engage with each other on company-run social media platforms.

We're trying to encourage like kind of like it's like a "club" you'd check out or something. In one case one rep commented on a FB post "Yea we won that because we're on Dave's team which is the best team!" which resulted in other reps from other teams talking about how they're going to win next time, show them up, etc. This is the kind of thing we're after. Also I've heard of reps finding out people they knew from other schools were working for us as well bc of the FB page, which is cool. They're also able to find their teammates through our page.

I guess I was reluctant to make posts every day because I don't want to bombard them with crap all the time, but I mean, maybe that's what I need to do?
I'm not completely foreign to Facebook. I'm only 22 yr old college student myself and have had a FB for the past 5 years. I tend to delete or hide people/pages that post too much stuff. That could be me though.

Well, that's the real question then, isn't it? Figure out exactly what you want including measurable results, and then find a tool to create them.
What I would like to see, that is measurable, (for my sake in terms of looking like I'm a total idiot in the eyes of my boss) is increased FB traffic, increased responses to polls/surveys on the FB from reps, and reps posting questions and comments on the site.
posted by ad4pt at 9:34 PM on October 31, 2011

Best answer: You only need to pay people to do things they wouldn't do for free. It's not going to be sustainable or serve your business as effeciently than if you approached this from the point of view of creating a benefit for your audience/your reps. They'll participate if there's a benefit to them.

The main reason that people use social media is to get recognition from the people they care about - their peer group. It's not a conscious thing, but it's true. Every time you 'check in', you're bragging. Every time you post a status update you're either bragging or being attention seeking or looking for recognition for being the cool person who posted the cool thing.

So when it comes to facebook, give them a reason to participate that gets them recognition. Give them a chance to brag. Give them a reason to post something that they'll want to share with their friends (and their friends and their friends etc.) If they create the culture of posting things on your FB page that is fun and inherently social (in that sharing of it comes naturally, because the thing is engaging and interesting). Doing something 'artificial' like incenting them with prizes for something that isn't actually engaging or interesting on its own won't be sustainable, and it won't be effective in growing your audience.

(As for the texts: why do you need to do that? What are you texting them about? Is there an actual communication goal? Or did someone just say "the kids, they like the texting, lets do this". Because the reality is that teens use text as their point of contact with their friends. It feels 'private' to them. You're horning in on their territory when you text them frequently, especially if those texts have little value to them. If you're trying to send them useful info, do it by email, or in a mandatory private facebook group, or on a private tumblr. Reserve texting for important things (like shift assignments, or info about paychecks, or whatever.)
posted by Kololo at 10:06 PM on October 31, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Your budget is far more than mine for similar things, so I started thinking about what *I* would do with a weekly $50. You could give it all out as prize money (and gift cards are fine - they're perfect motivation), but would it be possible to invest it into something that could eventually feed back to the online discussion? For example, do the kids all know each other? Do you have offline meetings where they get together? Can you create a photo opportunity (a party, for example, or an activity - somewhere they'll want to go) and then post photos of the event on Facebook?

Or, if they're doing door-to-door sales, they must have some stories to share about the physical act of going door to door. Can you invest in a travelling mascot that tags along with a different person each week, and has its photo taken along the way, creating a photo journey of what it's like for [mascot] to do this job. You might get some creative stories from some of your employees, and also reward them with a gift card after they submit their photo(s) that week and safely return the mascot.

Do they get rewarded for sales? Can you feature an "employee of the month" on the Facebook page and do a mini-interview (so they have something to repost on their own walls).

I never have a budget to do anything (I work with a non-profit group blog for scientists (think MeFi for biologists), not teens) so most of my ideas are cheap, but the gist of it is: have some sort of connection between what's happening on your Facebook page and what's happening offline. You can't just create discussion out of the blue. But you can do it for less than $50 a week (don't tell your boss that!)
posted by easternblot at 3:17 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A lot of the corporations on facebook seem to be encouraging fan participation these days by having photo contests. That would encourage the kids to all participate (rather than somebody getting the right answer to a trivia question within 5 minutes and everybody else then ignores it).

Have people submit photos, or slogans, or haikus about their job, or some other kind of creative effort, and then whichever one gets the most "likes" by a set deadline (7-14 days out) wins the prize. Maybe you could even feature the winning entry by using it as the profile photo of your group for a while.

This encourages everyone (not just the ones who see it first) to participate, gives the kids something fun to do that can still be work-related if you come up with good prompts, gives them the kind of rewards they actually want (getting tons of "likes" is probably at least as rewarding as getting a gift card, to a teenager), and most importantly, it will get the kids to encourage their friends/family/whoever to go on the site and "like" their submission. That's how you get traffic, by getting the regular participants to push everyone they know to join in.
posted by vytae at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2011

To encourage them to visit the site more, you need an intermittent reinforcement schedule... Get them checking periodically throughout the day because they don't want to miss anything, and not just at some set time when they know you usually post. So random/surprise contests that are time-limited are good. Another way to encourage more posts and participation is to randomly chose someone who left a post for a weekly prize, or maybe each post (with content) enters them into a monthly/weekly etc. drawing for a better prize. Put up posts even when you are not offering a prize that encourage response and participation: ask questions, ask their opinions, encourage creativity- their ideas about the product, or a sales pitch/whatever may be applicable. And another contest idea is letting them come up with something that is related to the job, and the best idea is implemented, along with a bonus for whoever came up with it.

Also I agree that you should severely limit texting. I don't like receiving mass texts, especially from an employer, it does feel like they are invading my personal space, especially for something I may not be interested in. Contest texts should probably be on an opt-in basis if you do that at all, and should direct the participants to the Facebook page.
posted by catatethebird at 11:35 AM on November 1, 2011

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