Developing your Rise influencer board as a vibrant new media channel

Creating a new channel is hard, whatever your reason for doing so. Whether it’s for marketing, community engagement, customer service or for good old-fashioned publishing, reaching a new audience takes plenty of work.

 

It’s often the first question marketers of new products and services ask – how do I find an audience? Though the question is better phrased as how do I grow the right audience?

 

An audience only has sustainable value for your business if they are engaged with you in a reliable way.

 

Not all channels are created equal because not all content is equal. Some content is inherently more interesting, more important and hence stickier than others.

 

Take the list of leaders in any community. As human beings, we are pre-programmed to look at the actions of leaders – whether we realise it consciously or not. Each of us takes social cues from the dominant influencers in our tribe and we use this to guide our behaviour. Try not yawning if the top dogs in the room are doing just that.

 

With that in mind, it’s pretty important for any community member to know who the real leaders are for any community. And if the community is exclusive, aspiring community members may also take an interest.

 

With traditional organisations and associations, tracking the leaders turns out to be fairly easy – companies have senior management teams, associations have elected board members and schools have head teachers and governors. The leaders are visible, their roles defined, easy to see and thus, easy to copy, mimic and, where relevant, obey.

 

In a modern digital tribe or marketplace of equals, this is more difficult to do. Particularly in new and emerging disciplines. There is no CEO of the upcoming “grime” music genre. For “gamification” technology trends there is no senior management team to turn to for advice.

 

Over time, associations will form that offer clarity over leadership, such as what the institute of chartered accountants does for accountancy professionals or the royal college of surgeons does in medicine. But, unless they have near 100% membership they will lack full authority and while they do there will be other associations competing for authority. The Gamification “industry” for example, has at least 3 non-profit associations seeking to offer sector wide leadership, in the fragmented world of marketing there are many, many more.

 

So, this is the landscape into which you are presenting your own list of community leaders – your Rise influencer board.

 

The statement you are making is threefold:

  1. These are the leaders of our tribe. These are the most influential community members – follow them and learn from them.
  2. This is the most up to date list of leaders in our tribe.
  3. The way to achieve leadership is encapsulated in the scoring system built into the board.

 

Those are 3 pretty interesting claims. They should make any member of the community sit up and take note of you. Which, if you are in the business of creating a new channel, is exactly what you want!

 

We’ve seen with Rise though, that there are good and bad influencer boards, good and bad channels. Like any tool, Rise can be used well and sometimes badly.

In my own experience, I’ve noticed a few areas of best practice:

  1. Launched with a bang. With a Rise board you are publicly making a statement. The louder and clearer that statement is, the more your impact.
  2. Positioned clearly with the value spelt out:
    1. What’s it in it for the players? What does being on the board mean for them? What would it mean to lead the board?
    2. What’s in it for the followers? Why should I become an engaged audience member of the board?
  3. Designed in context. Does the board’s visuals fit the tribe being tracked? A grime music board with pink livery would clearly be inauthentic.
  4. Human touch. Tribes whether made up of people or organisations are still a very human institution. A Rise board that is too automated, too robotic, too bare, conveys a different message from one run by someone who is a passionate advocate (and perhaps member) of the tribe’s values.
  5. Light hearted. Digital tracking is still an inexact science. It is not wise to claim too much authority, at least not until you’ve got it right.
  6. A mix of meat and fat. A Rise board is like a side of lean beef, it is wholesome but you need the fat to really bring out the full value. Mixing up your Rise board with fattier, fluffier content about the players (who went up this week, their opinion on current trends, how do they do their hair, what is their favourite film of the moment and so on) can bring much needed flavour to your board, and with flavour comes an  audience.
  7. Creeping authority. Whether you launched with a bang or not, your board needs to become a creeping authority for your sector. You are making a statement about leadership so you will need to deepen your program over time. This might be to get rid of other pretenders by being the most authoritative or it might be by simply driving more saturation among your target audience.For each influencer channel the next steps following launch will be different – it might mean giving digital badges for particular achievements, evolving the score algorithm or changing the structure of the league. Each board evolves at its own rate but evolve it must. No community stays still forever. The trick is evolving in the interests of all – you as manager, the players and the followers.

 

 

The rewards of your influencer channel should now be obvious – you have become the place every member of the community must turn to do to discover the leaders of that community. With the leaders they receive social cues to guide their own behaviour.

 

Now, what’s really interesting is that a Rise board isn’t just any old media channel. It’s not like a blog where you are leveraging the power of the media (to observe and comment). With a successful Rise board you become an integral part of the community governance structure – you have the role of kingmaker.

Now that’s a very interesting place to be.

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Why leaders must take control of the score

As a leader, one of your jobs is to keep those you lead focused on the goals you are trying to reach.

An underused tool in every leader’s toolbox is to create and share “the score”.

“The score” is how you have decided everyone should measure success, whether as individuals or as a group.

Whether we realise it or not, we all take account of the score in our daily lives. Indeed,  if you don’t share the score, people will invent their own. This can have hideous consequences as people chase after the wrong activities. No, it’s far better for you to take control of the score by choosing which KPIs matter and communicating them clearly.

As a leader it is your job to identify the scores that matter for the objectives you are seeking.

To do this, first write out the objectives and the success criteria for those objectives. These may be fairly numerical already. Then break down those objectives into the constituent parts and identify the important signals that you can measure reliably and easily. These are the metrics that go into making your score.

Next you need to attribute the score correctly. You have several options:

  • personal scores – this is a score for each individual. This approach works best in a group setting where there isn’t really a team objective – e.g. a conference, a group of separate businesses or a very large business
  • team scores – a score for your team. This works best when you are seeking to focus the efforts of your internal team – e.g. a KPI such as number of visitors to our website each month
  • market comparison – in more mature markets it may be more useful to focus on the comparison with peers – e.g. we are the number 1 supplier of milk in our region.

Finally, as a leader it’s not only your job to identify the scores that matter but also to communicate them regularly.

This could take many forms from a weekly email to a big screen TV leaderboard in the office. Whatever you choose, you need to remember that facts don’t speak for themselves. The medium you choose is important – people will take more notice of a leaderboard engraved in stone than one hastily scrawled on a piece of paper!

The score is an essential part of leadership. We all take account of the score whether we realise it or not. As a leader you can leverage the score and its communication to achieve the goals you’ve set for your team.

A great example of the importance of leaders and ‘communicating the score’ has recently taken the world’s media by storm. The Republican Party or Grand Old Party (GOP) Presidential candidates for the 2016 US elections recently debated each other on Fox News and presented to the audience what “scores” were important to them to keep and raise for the country. From here on in, how these individuals communicate their leadership goals to the people will be paramount. The use of Social Media will be more important than ever in reaching out and speaking to the electorate. Therefore we plan to monitor the online influence of the candidates and how this correlates with their popularity in the polls. Why not follow the The GOP Candidates Social Media Power Board and see for yourself. Interested in how much influence you have online? Why not join our Online Influencer Board and see how you compare?

 

 

The Rise approach to Sales Team Gamification

What’s our USP?

I think our most important feature is our player centred approach to design. This delivers real value to reps. In our thinking the rep, or “player”, is at the centre of our design – every program design question is answered by deciding whether it adds value for the rep. We want to offer programs that helps reps achieve their own goals and we provide useful feedback to help them get there.

Single consolidated scores

For instance, while managers might enjoy long spreadsheets with multiple metrics its rarely relevant for individual reps to have to keep track of tens of different metrics. Rise simplifies things by consolidating multiple metrics into a single score between 1 and 100. It’s easier for reps to understand and keep track of because the hard work of working out the relative importance of different metrics – whether it’s more useful to be tweeting or pushing linkedin updates for example, has already been factored in.

Granular control over data

As part of this ethos, Rise provides individual reps and managers with granular control over their social and business data as well as transparency over how their score is calculated. So for example you can decide whether to share LinkedIn data and, even when you do, we anonymise it, so the only thing that’s stored, is the count of number of connections, not the details of who those connections are. That means when you sign up to the program (read Why you should make your Rise program Opt-In) you can be assured of exactly what data is going to be shared from your personal social accounts. We want you to own your own data and to have transparency over how it is used.

Timely, relevant feedback for Reps

For the rep, Rise’s aim is to provide regular, clear feedback on how well you are doing at achieving your own goals as well as those that your organisation has set for you. It’s an easy way for you to track yourself against your own social and digital transformation goals.

Rise lets managers provide a personalised score each week showing whether you’ve gone up or down. This score is a consolidated and simplified view of multiple metrics that matter to Reps. We will be reporting back how you are doing in terms of participation and engagement with social media, if you’re engaging and providing value successfully then your score will go up.

Sophisticated scoring algorithms

Rise allows managers to create sophisticated scoring systems that reduce gaming of the system and consequent distortion effects. In the early stages of any program, while managers still bedding down the score algorithm we don’t recommend providing any drill down but in time we aim to give reps transparency on individual metrics.

A good scoring system balances quality of activity with quantity.

Accurate insights for managers

For first line sales managers Rise provides accurate information that they can really use to coach and encourage reps. As managers our goal is always to try to get the best from reps and to help them achieve their goals
Having their team on Rise  also provides the opportunity for managers to run ad-hoc contests to help drive sales and particular priorities locally.

One of the great advantages of having reps on a Rise program is that they become champions of data accuracy! That means your management data quality will improve.

Wider corporate benefits

By becoming an early leader of gamification, a key enterprise technology category that Gartner has picked to mature over the next 5-10 years, will help your business offer your customers a competitive service, and one that it understands intimately from having used it itself.

Access control and Data security

All leaderboards have multi-level access control ensuring access to edit the board settings, add and remove scores and to view the final scores themselves is only provided to invited managers. All raw score data is deleted as soon as it is no longer needed (after 90 days) while a historical record of the final scores for each metric is kept so each rep has a historical record.

With Rise you are always in control over the program – whether you participate and by how much is up to you. We also have designed the system to flex as the business needs change. That means that reps and managers can ask for more appropriate metrics to be included over time, and perhaps take away the ones that aren’t useful. Gamification is really about aligning both rep and management goals in a single program so using the flexibility of Rise around the scoring system is a critical element in sustained success.

Why you should make your Rise program Opt In

Rise offers rich, relevant and regular feedback to employees. Is a scorekeeping solution to help your business succeed.

Our best practice recommendation is to make your program ‘Opt In’ within an internal context.  That means your players need to choose to participate and to have their scores kept for them.

Why is Opt In important?

Making your Rise program ‘Opt In’ from the get go, ensures it is positioned as a service to your players rather than ‘yet another management target’. It ensures it is designed to provide value to the players at the point of need.

This is one of the key differences between gamified and traditional measurement  (like Management Information Systems (MIS)) – manager and employee goals are aligned.

The best way to ensure this alignment is to make the program opt-in – that way it has to be communicated as a valuable service for employees. For instance if your program is for sales reps then you should position your program as “this will help you sell more”.

A side benefit of this approach is that encourages ownership of the program among the players, they will then help you iterate the scoring system to make it even more relevant for their day to day needs. They will also be less likely to cheat and game the system.

My one proviso to this is that sometimes you need to ‘seed your program’ with an initial set of 10 employees so everyone else can see what it is they are opting into.