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Social media is no longer just an indiustry trend and evolutionary step up for the Web. It's a full-fledged phenomenon, part media, part economy, part communication technology, and part social world. An incredible spectrum of companies and industries can be considered social media — and those not directly involved in the user experience are likely indirectly affected by it.

This means that social interaction design covers much more than just the conventional user experience and interaction design needs of a software app or web site. The applications of social interaction design involve a much more holistic approach. For in the commercial world they relate to brand identity and communication, to marketing and advertising, to sales and customer support, and even to product development. In the non-commercial world, social interaction design relates to social experiences: the individual user experience and social practices. And all of these together form an ecosystem in which tools and culture evolve hand-in-hand.

Consider some of the uses for social media. Each of these can be anticipated, optimized, iterated, and extended. And each may also fail — not only technically but socially. You can control features and designs, but not the interactions that happen around them.

  • You may succeed with early adopters but fail to draw late adopters
  • Your core users may flee the arrival of newcomers
  • Your efforts to build community may fail to develop beyond simple and brief interactions
  • Different conversation types and models can muddy core user activities
  • Your service may attract certain user personalities and types over others — if they fail to produce a self-sustaining culture, your efforts will whither
  • Individual user interests and objectives might conflict with your organization or business goals — content and communication left behind by participants might undermine the experience of non-participating visitors
  • You may need to balance and resolve competing needs of mobile and web-based users
  • Incentives like leaderboards, ratings, social ranking, and other common social media practices may not be what you want to use — or may succeeded only in empowering a small number of most active users
  • Norms and conventions may not be working to constrain users from anti-social behavior — and other ways of steering behavior, archtecturally or by structuring social groups, may be available
  • You may have the design and technology for a large community/audience but need something smaller — populations grow, and change in behavior as they grow, and social dynamics are central to cultivating this along
  • The mix of visibility, popularity, ranking, messaging, sharing, and transacting may be off — all social architecture can only show so much, and must be navigable, and in social media this real estate limitation creates social effects
  • Users may be differently enjoying personal messaging, social interaction and status, and public visibility — shifting social dynamics can take over a product, can lead to population churn, and resulting loss of social cohesion can kill a site

For social media startups, agencies, and industry

For more on how you will benefit from easy and responsive access to my observations of trends, user experiences, emerging social practices, and for access to my network, read here.

  • Early market research
  • Use cases and scenarios
  • Product and marketing requirement summaries
  • Preliminary feature specs
  • Design documents
  • User flow
  • Interaction and communication definitions
  • Screen mockups
  • Strategic partnerships and participation, networking, introductions, etc

Socially-mediated branding: sociability review

The sociability review for brands differs from sociability for social media tools and services in that it looks at the brand audience rather than application user base. Sociability is critical to brands interested in successfully using social media, and is intended to supplement the quantitative analysis and metrics offered by analytics vendors. This review of audience engagement looks at who's talking, to whom, about what, and why. It is intended to help brands focus on their audience, and to help craft strategies beginning with perceptive and insightful look at the relationships and conversation that exists within a marketplace and among those essential to brand visibility.

Read more on how you will benefit from a sociability review.
  • 10 - 15 page write up plus meetings
  • summary of successes, failures, and opportunities
  • analysis of conversations
  • a study of topics, interests, sentiment, and values expressed by members of the audience
  • competitive review of products and brands and how they are talked about
  • an assessment of brand authority, credibility, trust, and believability
  • a look at relationships among consumers and their ways of using tools, as relevant to your brand
  • recommendations for conversational strategies, brand audience involvement, and content creation

Social media companies: forensic

The forensic audit is a review of participation success with your social media product, service, or campaign. The forensic offers you a unique analysis of user activity and behavior. it focuses on the things that are working well as well areas open for improvement. Opportunities and recommendations based on social media practices and competitive analysis are included.

Read more on how you will benefit from a forensic review.
  • 10 - 15 page write up plus meetings
  • summary of user pariticipation and activity
  • analysis of behavior
  • comparison of user activity against personality types common on social media
  • review of communication practices
  • review of interaction practices and user habits
  • recommendations for improvement to social interface patterns and features

Social media companies: applications, sites, services audit

The site audit is an assessment and evaluation of your service from the perspective of user experiences, user interests, and social practices. Social media companies and services are increasingly recognizing the value of engaging social interaction specialists to frame what motivates users, who uses their service, and how design, architecture, and features will shape participation and social media use.

Read more on how you will benefit from an audit.
  • 10 - 15 page write up plus meetings
  • strategic views of market opportunities and position
  • success in generating user engagement, audience participation, and gaining user adoption
  • recommendations for site revisions and improvements: UI, interaction design, user experience
  • commentary on use of web 2.0 applications and site features
  • recommendations for revised features and applications as well as new ones for the purpose of higher engagement and participation rates
  • recommendations for ongoing strategic decisions
  • recommendations for extended or diversified product and service offerings
  • references to sites and services that might integrate well with your site and service
  • analysis of interaction models and social action systems working on your site, including communication, sharing, and profiling, practices
  • analysis of economic and cultural exchange models working on your site (exchange, gift, pass-along, post, reciprocal, popular, and other common online practices)
  • analysis of interaction and conversation models working on your site

Social Interaction Design requirements specs, cases studies, feasibility studies

Contract out your social interaction design needs and supplement your team with expertise in user-centric analysis of social media performance and design.

For more on how you will benefit from easy and responsive access to my observations of trends, user experiences, emerging social practices, and for access to my network, read here.
  • help in selection and vetting of social media prospects
  • contribute site or service feedback
  • make specific suggestions and recommendations for improvement
  • offer strategic input into product development and market opportunities
  • offer recommendations for possible media, publishing, brand and product partnerships
  • assess social media site/service viability
  • assess social media site/service usability
  • detail use cases, user personas, audiences and markets, and other sociographic views
  • contribute market research
  • explore market opportunities
  • marketing requirements
  • use cases
  • product requirements
  • page layouts
  • user and site flow
  • mockups

©2007 - 2009 by Adrian Chan. All Rights Reserved. Adrian [ at ] gravity7 [ dot ] com 415 . 516. 4442