The SSS Rule For Social Networks

Everybody is (or should be) familiar with the KISS principle (keep it short and simple). It is widely applied throughout communications, marketing being no exception. It basically points out that things should be kept to a simple level as complexity only adds an unnecessary experience layer to the scene. This is also true for Online Marketing – the more complex the experience is, the more prone are you to losing your visitors. This applies to banners, sites and even social network interactions.

If you work in the online arena, then a lot of your clients have already come up to you and said, “Well, let’s go into [insert Social Network here]” – most likely Facebook now – and has tasked you and your team to strategize what the brand should do on Facebook. If you are going into a a group logic or just a fan page with some static information, then you should probably think about doing something more. However, if you are creating a more complex interaction, like a browser game or a new tool that you hope will be really interesting for the users, then you’ve got a lot of work ahead. The KISS principle will be your friend when figuring out what you should do, but I’ve got a new rule – the SSS Rule.

The SSS Rule simply stands for “Simple”, “Sharable”, “Scorable”. And it will help you evaluate your ideas before you take them to the client and even support them when you do your presentation. Let’s look into each of these:

Simple – No news here. KISS said to keep it simple. I’m telling you to keep it SIMPLE. The time people spend in Social Networks, although growing, is unbelievably fragmented. From tool to tool, game to game, post to post, users are prone to lose their attention in a very short time span. It’s a stresstetainment consequence. So if you want your tool to survive it has to be really time efficient – only requiring a little while to understand and about 1-5 minutes of the users time maximum. Beyond efficiency, keep in mind it also has to make them come back for more. One such example is Mafia Wars. With more users growing every day, Mafia Wars takes up to a few minutes each time you go in. But it always makes you come back in a few hours to carry on your game.

Sharable – Social Networks are all about sharing – and they make it easy to do it too! All you have to consider is that the tool has to have sharing potential – be it because it’s a natural mechanism such as the ingredient exchange in Restaurant City or because sharing it broadens the experience like adding more neighbors in Farmville.

Scorable – This is probably the hardest to explain. To keep users coming back for more, Social Network tools should create competition in an indirect way (e.g. a score or level that challenges users to develop new skills and ‘up their game’). Not only does competition open up more functionality in the application, it also becomes a status of its own. Consider the quiz craze on Facebook. What makes users crazy about quizzes like the Flixter Movie Quizzes is the fact that they see the results of their friends. This is what I mean as Scorable – it give a score or it contains an evaluation or evolution metric inside the application.

There you have it. The SSS rule will help you conceptualize and evaluate any application you create for a Social Network. Keep in mind, some applications might only fulfill two of the criteria such as Sharable + Simple; as one of the S’s might be more important to your target than another. Ultimately it’s up to you though, where you want to position the brand in the SSS matrix. In any case, using the SSS Rule will help you evaluate where your social application stands and what should you improve or not.