Pfizer Gives Two Stars to Amazon’s Five Stars

I had to LOL at Robin Spencer’s (#Pfizer) call out to the “Tambourine” people—folks who just want to connect everything because they can and because everyone else is doing it. Hopefully it’s been (in keeping with the musical theme) drummed into our heads by now that the primary goal of social media is always business problem solving. Yet, the biggest conundrum in social media, says Robin, is often confusion about goals.

Robin shared this Dirty Little Secret with the group: The simpler the task, the less representative the results. The example he used (after some blank stares, I imagine) was that of ratings on—the process whereby users click a star to indicate their level of satisfaction with a product. Have you noticed that a whole lot of products on have 4.5 stars? Users can “contribute to the community” with very little effort or thought. Obviously, then, the opposite of the dirty little secret is true, too: The harder the task, the more representative it is. This is where Chris Anderson’s Long Tail work comes in.

“Watch the tail,” Robin admonished. The people who answer one question each are often more important over the long run than those who answer repeatedly. Large-scale behavior is largely predictable; you’ll find that most of your contributions and value come from the occasional contributors. Don’t bias your system by quantity or reputation; you may exclude your best contributors.

Nice presentation, Robin, but I suppose five stars would be inappropriate…. :)


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