AFG Venture Group Dispatches

Corporate advisory and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and India.

UsabilityOne’s Take On Social Media

by Shefik Bey, Managing Director, UsabilityOne

Social media has been pumped up to the extent that many businesses feel they may fall by the wayside if they can’t harness its powers. Immediately! Yet, rushing in and taking a punt without forming an understanding of customer preferences and behaviour, actually puts the business’s branding and future sales at risk.

While the appetite for advertising on social media and connecting online is at fever pitch, many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon without actually consulting their users. Here at UsabilityOne we provide the conduit between your business and consumer. We understand that social networks differ from regular websites in many ways and constantly strive to ensure our clients are meeting their customers’ needs.

At UsabilityOne we provide unique insights into how our clients’ customers want to interact with them in their digital space. We understand that clients need to be respectful of how users might want to interact with them – does anyone really want to be facebook buddies with their health insurer?

Rather than asking users to adapt their attitudes and behaviours in order to interact with your social platform, we encourage clients to create an outlet that supports their intended users’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.

What we can’t stress enough when creating a social profile is to do the research first. Don’t let strategy alone drive your decision-making, this has been proved time and time again by our tried and tested research. The following is some food for thought, stemming from interactions with a variety of our clients and their users:

10 Great Tips on implementing social media in a usable way

To gain the most out of your social profile, here are some pointers we’ve picked up from our user-centred research and testing:

  1. Make it easy! Don’t assume your user has knowledge of social media. Provide pathways for introductory and instruction pages.
  2. Engage with you users. Where possible allow users to interact with your site as much as possible. Is it absolutely necessary to log-in or register? If so make it as simple as possible.
  3. Emphasise security. We keep hearing users tell us their concerns about privacy and distrust in networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. To combat this create clear terms and conditions and explain how their information will be used.
  4. Be fun and show your personality. Social network sites are all about connecting and interacting with people. As this portal could be a users’ first impression of your brand ensure your profile picture resonates with your identity and your background enables easy reading and interaction.
  5. Make it snappy. Similar to regular websites, users want information to be short and sweet. Avoid providing heavy blocks of content and employ writing for the web techniques to engage and entice your user to stay and interact with your site.
  6. Tweet, tweet and tweet again. When updating your social media site you are instantly creating visibility for yourself. Make sure these updates have a clear purpose and set an appropriate tone and style for your audience. Avoid posting too frequently and set yourself some clear guidelines around the lengths of updates – after all, you don’t want to bombard your user or bore them to tears.
  7. Links to outer sites.  More often than not, users will find your website from your social media profile. Ensure that the experience of the website reflects the promises of your profile. Make it clear when users switch between sites and that they know how to return if they choose.
  8. Allow for future adjustments. Social media is fresh and still constantly evolving. Create a style guide that ensures content is consistently formatted, structured, tagged and labeled.
  9. Consistency is the key. Don’t make users adapt their interactions to suit your business needs. Stick with conventions and place paths to external social media profiles in a consistent manner to avoid user frustration or drop-outs.
  10. And finally, keep interacting with your user. Listen to what they want and find ways to incorporate their feedback. If using a poll, allow users to ‘see results without voting’. Allow users to submit comments and tag content without having to sign-in* or join up.
    *Where this is permitted, ensure that submitted content is moderated and the user is informed that abusive comments will be removed.

How we can help

Usability Testing

Don’t let assumptions drive your business decisions. By asking your customers and testing with a variety of people you will be able to gauge what they’re after and what they expect from your application. We can conduct usability testing for you in one of our specialist labs or online. The insight gained from watching users interact with your site is amazing. However by conducting testing online you can gather a great amount of feedback from prospective customers.

Expert Review

If you feel there is still room for growth in your social profile we can help. Our consultants can provide expert reviews and analysis of your platform and provide user-centred recommendations to enhance customer interaction and make it easier for users to connect with your brand.

User Centred Design

We provide the nexus between you and your user. By enlisting our services we can help you create a social media platform that is tailored to suit your user needs. User research, profiling, and needs analysis all help to influence design and create consumer driven products that still meet our clients’ business requirements.

The Future

Social media is still fresh. Although many companies do not want to get left behind, if we don’t start questioning, experimenting and thinking about the best ways to utilise this new platform it may just become a fad of the noughties. Companies need to speak to users and think about ways of utilising this technology today – not just in the future. By hiring people that can provide independent third party insight on what your users want, you can be assured you are not relying on strategy and providing consumers with a means to appropriately interact with and take part in your business community.

About UsabilityOne

In becoming one of Australia’s top tier research consultancies, UsabilityOne has learned a lot about how people interact and engage with all things digital.

We progressively meet and work alongside many of the country’s most respected digital specialists and are able to see and hear first-hand their professional frustrations at being expected to produce high-end solutions without the crucial ‘front-end’ human insights.

These specialists are actively seeking a shift towards applying deeper intelligence on customer needs at the very earliest stages of strategy planning and concept development, in order to:

  • Increase their ability to realise (and maximise) opportunities
  • Base decisions on facts instead of assumptions
  • Craft solutions which more effectively remove the risk of future performance problems.

Not surprisingly, more and more clients are looking for the same ‘digitally enhanced’ approach. So at UsabilityOne, we’ve re-mastered the way we work and created a flexible model to make it happen; a model which extends our capability well beyond post-design evaluation.

On projects where you have your own trusted specialists in place and ready to start, you can call on us to bring the highest calibre of customer insight to their individual and collective thinking – so from the very outset, they’re fully informed instead of flying blind.

Alternatively, you can have us co-ordinate and bring together a select team, hand-picked from the best minds in the business – experts who share our commitment to reshape and enhance peoples’ engagement with the digital world.

Either way, it takes the potential for achieving excellence to another level.

About the Author

Shefik Bey is Managing Director of UsabilityOne. His employment tenure in market research spans more than 15 years and has specialised in the field of new technology for the last decade.

Having forged extensive experience managing qualitative and quantitative research projects for leading global technology companies, Shefik also brings a wealth of experience in areas of strategic business management and end-to-end deployment of complex and large-scale development projects.

Shefik formerly worked for ACNielsen and was Global Vice President at online market research company RedSheriff.