Rating Social Media Prospects

A few weeks ago I participated in the CARA Statewide Conference. CARA is the California Advancement Researchers Association, a state chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA), an “international professional association of development research and information management professionals” (from the CARA website).

Development Researchers are the hard working, inquisitive folks who toil behind-the-scenes to make successful front-line fundraisers well…successful. Simply put: development researchers gather, summarize and prepare reports with information about donors. The information they gather about a donor (who the prospect might know, their interests, the companies they’ve worked for or have invested in, what their level of giving might be) helps the fundraising effort in many ways, including rating the prospect on their wealth and likelihood to give.

This got me thinking: in a way, we’re all amateur researchers. When we read profiles, surf individual blogs or check out a Twitter feed, we’re researching. We may be looking for different information and have different motivations than the professionals, but we too look for facts, figures, insight and information about people in their social networking profiles, tweets, and blogs. We learn a lot about people we may have never met in person. A major difference between professional researchers and “the rest of us” is that we’re not looking for donations, we’re looking for relevance: is this person worth following, friending, or subscribing to?

When I evaluate a “social media prospect” (someone I don’t know who contributes online content via twitter, a blog, or other space) I use the following criteria as a guide:

  • Resources: does this person have interesting and informative tweets? Does their blog provide useful information that’s relevant to what I do or something I want to learn more about?
  • Networking: can this person help me to accomplish my goals, personally or professionally? And how might I be able to help them? Do they know someone I’d like to be introduced to?
  • Leads and insider info: is the person really “plugged in” to the latest news and info? Will I learn about new tools and trends early on because of a connection to them?
  • Quality: if tweets stray too far afield, are consistently about a topic I’m not interested in, or just plain offend, I’m unlikely to follow.

Do you have a social media prospect rating system? What are your metrics?


2 Responses to Rating Social Media Prospects

  1. You raise an interesting question here, Liz. When I first started tweeting, I was very concerned about being too loose and wanted to keep every tweet “valuable” and “insightful.” I’ve loosened up a lot since then and I notice that a lot of people I follow have, too. I’m concerned about the signal to noise ratio from a lot of people I follow. For example, I have to sift through a lot of tweets about nightly and weekend sports–not something that interests me at all–and I struggle about whether I should unfollow people who feel the need to tweet about every pitch or bad ref call. I’ll look more carefully at the tweets of people I follow in the future; I do welcome the opportunity to get to know people a bit better through their tweets, but don’t want too much personal information.

    As far as Facebook (I typed “Farcebook”: Freudian slip?) is concerned, I’m on the verge of de-friending many people that I don’t have a fairly close personal relationship with–which includes some of the people I’ve met professionally and friended. I’m also not interested in being friends with people whose posts are primarily related to the games they are playing, as opposed to something about their personal lives.

    On LinkedIn, I’m interested in building my professional network. I don’t necessarily have to know someone personally to link to them.

    Thanks for this: I think we don’t think enough about why people friend, follow, or link to others and what motivates these connections–or how durable they are.

    • Elizabeth Allen says:

      Thank you Michael. I think using the tools for varying purposes and to reach different sets of people makes a lot of sense. This in turn made me think about how I personally use channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and what I’ll post to those spaces. I can be pretty picky about what goes where, and put a lot of thought into who might be interested to know what I’m posting about. I wouldn’t, say, post a link to vacation photos on LinkedIn, because I use that space for business networking, not personal stuff.

      So that turns the issue from this post on its head: what do we as individuals contribute that would make someone want to follow us? Are we delivering interesting content to the appropriate audience?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s