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Social Interaction Design

Social Interaction Design (SxD) Site Audit

The site audit is a review of your web site or other social media service for social interaction and member participation. I look at how members are using your site, with an eye to opportunities and areas of improvement, and make recommendations and suggestions. Details, screen shots, and specs can be obtained from further engagement.

The audit is sketched below. Or download it: Brochure: social media audit nine page pdf)

Site objectives and goals

Social media are unique in that the value of their content is subject by user participation that is beyond the site's direct control. Individual user and audience engagement has to be fostered — and in a fashion that solicits the kinds of contributions from users that create value.

What are your site's objectives, and how well are they being met

  • From your perspective (company's)
  • From the user's perspective
  • Have social practices emerged on your site that produce the content and useage for which the site was designed?

What kind of activity do you wish to facilitate? Is it occurring?

What kind of value does your site provide?

  • To you (company)
  • To users
  • To third parties (businesses, advertisers, etc.)
  • To whom are you providing value, and how?

What are the social barriers to participation on your site?

How well does in individual user experience match your stated goals for user and community participation?

Theme

Social media sites are thematic. They have a social purpose and thematic activity, such as: product reviews, job networking, dating, movie recommendations, restaurant reviews, video sharing, or what have you. That social purpose has to make sense to users on an individual basis while having a social application also.

Communicating your theme

  • What is your site about, and does it leverage something that members already talk about?
  • Is it easy for members to see the benefits of participating in your site?
  • Can members see this from what others are doing?
  • Do members naturally talk about the theme or topic your site is built around?
  • What motivates them to participate?

Theme and motivation

  • What is your site's theme, and does it drive the kind of social participation you anticipated? How does it shape user participation?
  • What kinds of talking and posting support that theme? How familiar are your users with it?
  • Does your site's theme speak directly to users' daily routines or practices? Or does your service ask them to invest, to make a creative stretch, in order to see the value of your site?
  • If so, what individual and social techniques do you use to drive motivation: for individual involvement as well as for social engagement? In other words, do your users see the purpose in doing this socially?

Intended and actual social practices

Users will use your site according for their interests, regardless of whether or not they support and further the site's business. In extreme cases, an audience can hijack a social media service - changing or re-orienting audiences can result in a mutiny that may cost you your brand and user-base.

Seen from the user's perspective, your site's uses depend on what the site does, who's on it, and what they're doing. And all of that is shaped by your site's particular mix of profile pages, public communication, private messaging, balance of private and public, media formats, visibility of traffic, activity, use, member details, and much more. Users like to succeed, and are sensitive to where they succeed and how. And they will quickly read what's happening in any social medium on the basis of what others are doing - and not on the basis of what's in the fine print or home page copy.

  • What are your site's primary social practices? Do they serve your purposes?
  • Socializing?
  • Auto-biographical disclosure?
  • Establishing personal expertise and talent?
  • Establishing professional expertise and skill?
  • Helping others? Abusing others?
  • Attracting attention through desirability? Looks and poses? Wit and writing? Connectedness and popularity? Activity and participation?

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