The difference between soft and hard metrics

When designing your gamification program consider whether your metrics are soft or hard.

A hard metric tends to be one which is:

  • complete – no other metric is needed to qualify it
  • slow moving – it doesn’t change that often
  • important – it drives real business needs
  • reciprocity based – it relies on the response of others so can’t easily be gamed

A soft metric on the hand tends to be:

  • contributing – one that leads on to other, harder metric
  • personal  – more linked to individual activity than to team goals
  • fuzzy – accuracy is less important
  • activity based – is under the control of the player

Why does this matter?

Players and managers  respond differently to hard and soft scores:

  • Hard scores tend to be taken more seriously, checked formally and regularly, and become directly linked to hard incentives like cash.
  • Soft scores are lighter, are seen as indicators and a guide, are much more suitable for friendly competition among peers.

Let’s take an example – sales motivation.

If you are a sales professional you’re used to being measured on many different metrics. But some metrics are “harder” than others. This will affect how you perceive the program and how you engage with it:softhard

  • Total Sales Revenue achieved is a hard metric. It’s important to the business and why you are hired.
  • % Quota Achieved for example is a softer metric, still fairly hard but it’s been softened by making it personal to me as an individual seller.
  • Opportunities Added, the number of new deals in the sales pipeline, is softer still. It’s a metric that can be easily gamed (I could put lots of spurious opportunities into the CRM system) so is best used as a soft indicator of performance rather than a hard one.
  • % increase in Opportunities Added this week – is the softest of all sales metrics. Not only is it easily gamed but it’s highly personalised.

In my experience, sales professionals treat hard metrics with respect, because they are incentivised on them but are less interested in soft metrics. Good sales management though is often about improving the soft metrics that yield results in the hard metric area. Therefore multiple programs are necessary – a hard metrics program which results in hard cash, a soft metrics program which is used for friendly competition and personal growth.

For your player context, be they sales reps or employees elsewhere,  the exact mix of hard and soft metrics will be  designed by you.

The take away for behavioural designers and gamifiers is  to consider the impact of your chosen metrics on your players  based on whether the metrics  will be perceived as soft or hard. 

 

The top 10 barriers to social media tracking success.

In this post I outline the ten barriers that stop many businesses from measuring our social media return on investment effectively. I then propose a simple four step solution.  This is a summary of a talk on how to measure social media success given at Spring Fair and at Jewellery & Watch (slides).

 

Social media is a potential bottomless time pit – we can spend countless hours tweeting, posting and snapping with no return. In an ideal world we’d know what worked and do more of that: that’s the promise of effective social media measurement and tracking.

 

Before most businesses achieve a self-tracking culture that lets them see their social media ROI there are 10 barriers they must overcome.

 

None of the barriers are insurmountable but each presents difficulties.

 

The barriers are:

 

  1. No link from digital to physical events

For many bricks and mortar businesses, the transaction is completed in the physical world – someone comes into your shop for example. In this environment it’s really hard to attribute transactions back to their digital roots on social media or elsewhere.

 

  1. Not tracking as a team

Evaluating the analytics and planning optimization strategies as a result requires the mindshare of more than one person in a team. Trying to do analytics on your own, while possible, is hard to maintain momentum. Without the key team bought in, to looking at the metrics, it’s very hard to justify the necessary iterations you will need to make.

 

  1. Trying to track success in multiple channels simultaneously

 

In my experience I’m only really able to concentrate on one metric at a time. Trying to evaluate the results from multiple channels reduces the focus you need to be successful at optimization. It’s all too easy to flick flack between channels and getting nowhere as a result.

 

  1. Trying to track metrics for multiple stages of maturity simultaneously

 

Social media channels evolve through 4 stages of maturity. It is only worth tracking the metrics of one stage at a time – the stage your channel is currently at. To do otherwise again will blur the focus of your optimization efforts. The four stages of maturity are covered in the GERM model – metrics for really busy folk. They are Getting Going, Engagement, Reliable Reach and Monetisation.

 

  1. Metric Overload

 

Most social media channels have a plethora of analytics and metrics they output for you – far too many to be useful all at once. Looking at too many metrics will dull your focus and reduce your ability to optimize effectively. Don’t forget, our objective is to know what works – by focusing on one metric at a time we know whether changes we make to our channel are effecting that metric positively or negatively.

 

  1. Being seduced by vanity metrics

 

Vanity metrics are the easy metrics that make us feel good – total followers, total fans for example. But vanity metrics don’t tell enough of the story – we have a 1000 followers but do they care about our content? There’s no point in having 100s of fans if we never post anything.

 

  1. Undisciplined analytics processes

 

Looking at the stats every few months or so doesn’t create an internal culture that can use metrics to improve your social media channel. Without a consistent analytics discipline in place (weekly metrics meeting for example) you’re unlikely to make those kaizen optimisations that are needed for real success.

 

  1. Fuzzy marketing strategy

 

If your marketing strategy lacks clarity – your audience, your message, your channels, your pipeline is fuzzy then your social media channel will be fuzzy. Metrics need specificity to be useful – what exactly are you trying to achieve with your social media channel?

 

  1. Hazy audience development plan

 

This is all too often the case, where the target audience definition is hazy and the way in which we’ll reach them is not thought out. While you don’t necessarily need to worry about this until you’re worrying about growing a reliable reach – your audience development plan needs to state how and why your audience will grow.

 

  1. Not valuing our own time

 

The number one barrier I see when trying to achieve social media success is not valuing our own time – if you don’t know how much you’ve invested, it’s hard to make a call as to whether what comes out is worth it. It may be that after all those hours creating your own media channel you’d have been better off paying to advertise on someone else’s!

 

So how do you set about overcoming these barriers in your own social media measurement efforts?

4 Step Approach

There are 4 steps, and the great news is that they are refreshingly easy to do and will actual reduce the amount of work you do today rather than increase it!

 

  1. Start with a single channel

Your metrics journey starts with just one channel – focus on getting that right first before worrying about your other channels. Metrics is a discipline. Habit forming and focus is more important than covering all the bases.

 

  1. Focus on the metrics appropriate to your channel’s stage of maturity

 

Take an honest look at your channel (or better still ask one of your audience members) and ask yourself what stage you are at – getting going, engagement, reliable reach or monetization. Then choose one metric to focus on, appropriate to that stage.

 

  1. Only analyse what you plan to optimize

 

There’s no point looking at metrics if you don’t do anything about them. There’s no point doing anything unless you look at the metrics to see if it worked. Optimisation is not about making multiple sweeping changes – one change at a time (weekly for example) is enough for you to learn what works best with your audience.

 

  1. Form a metrics tracking habit

 

Evaluate your metrics regularly and consistently as this will allow you to make the multiple small improvements which will eventually bring you social media success.

 

Am I eating my own dog food?

 

In the software industry the phrase “are you eating your own dog food?” or more positively “are you sipping your own champagne?” asks tech executives to use their own tools and prove their efficacy themselves.

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve applied this approach to my own personal twitter account @tobyberesford. I identified that the channel was stuck at the “getting going” stage – I simply wasn’t posting consistently every day.

 

To form a metrics habit I joined up with the free “Twitter Activity Club” (aka the TAC) provided by Rise.global. Each week the board emails me with my average tweets per day, and the week to week change.

 

Taking a look at my stats on the TAC I soon saw my own, rather choppy, performance. Some weeks I tweeted plenty, others not so much. I am yo-yoing up and down in terms of activity and consequently rank on the leaderboard.

 

I’m now working on some more consistent habits. I’m using Buffer to make sure I’ve scheduled at least 4 tweets going out every day. Now its up to me to make sure I stick to that discipline and once confident that I’ve achieved that I’ll move (finally) past the getting going stage and then I’ll start working on improving my audience’s level of engagement with my tweets.

 

What’s your next step in your journey?

If you’re still getting going then I recommend joining theTwitter Activity Club and taking advantage of the free weekly metrics service.

If you’re thinking about engagement then join the Twitter Engagement Club or, if you’re now working on growing your reach then join the Twitter Followers Club. Each club provides the right metric for your Twitter channel depending on its level of maturity.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Metric Hierarchies allowing hybrid scoring systems

Rise is the universal scorekeeping platform – that means any scoring system you can dream up we can support it.

Having your scoring system on rise  means you can automate creation and distribution of scores to each of your players.

In today’s update we’ve launched hierarchical metrics – now you can create sub groups of metrics. This might be useful from a display point of view – i.e. a social media score might group all activity on each platform, for ease of reading.

Where it really comes into its own however is when you want different ranking algorithms for each metric group. With this feature you can now combine absolute and relative scores in a single scoring system. For example you can set base scores for all players (perhaps based on longer term achievements) and overlay a relative score (perhaps based on the past 90 days).

So now the rise challenge. Can you come up with a scoring system and formula that Rise can’t support?! If so let us know…