UPA Boston: Studying Companies’ Use of Social Networks

Posted on: June 13, 2010

At the UPA Boston conference, Janelle Estes discussed how she used a variety of user research methods to assess how people use postings from companies and organizations on social networks.

  • Estes conducted a usability study and a diary study
  • She recruited people  who used 2+ social networks for 3+ months, as well as folks that were willing to access their social network accounts during test sessions
  • The usability study revealed that users often have a difficult time finding where to sign-up to receive postings. They will search on keywords such as “friends, connect, social”, and many sites don’t have results on those common terms.
  • The diary study was a 4 week study. Estes sent out assignments 3x per week, and asked for responses using a Google spreadsheet. She sent the assignment on a consistent schedule. Estes suggest that its important to make a connection with participants over the phone prior to the study, and it might be a good idea to vary assignments or shorten the study with more participants.

Estes was able to glean some design guidelines from her study as follows:

  • Users had varying expectations on message types, it all depended on the org. News: top stories, Consumer: new products, sales; Non-Profit: Initiatives: upcoming events
  • Place important information at the beginning of the message, as people only scan the first few words
  • Clearly describe where a link take users
  • Users expected companies to be personable, informal, have more personality
  • Engage in two way conversation
  • Initiate conversation about relevant topics
  • Send messages regularly, but not too regularly
  • Choose a meaningful and eye-catching profile picture
  • Place calls to action on the homepage, footer navigation, and pair them with appropriate logos
  • Provide social network information in email and newsletters

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Alla Zollers

I design products and services that just. make. sense.

When products make sense, customers are happy.

If customer are happy, they sign-up, stay on site, engage, share, and buy your product or service.

Happy customers allow companies to profit in both senses of the word.

I provide the following services:

• Heuristic Evaluations
• Discovery Research
• Strategy and Vision Development
• Information Architecture
• User Experience Design
• Usability Testing

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