Three Reasons Why Facebook is Not an Ideation Platform

IdeationMany companies think they are crowdsourcing innovation because they engage their Facebook followers in discussion around new products. Here are three reasons why this is faulty thinking:

1. A blunt instrument

Facebook lets followers “like” a comment or idea, and that’s fine if you’re asking people what color they’d like to paint the office walls, or what new flavor they’d like to see in your soda range. Ideas with a high “cuteness factor,” or ideas submitted by a very popular person in the community, may get voted up for the wrong reasons. Any topic with more complex or strategic importance to your organization deserves a more 3-D evaluation.

Of course, IdeaScale Assessment Tools enable users to assess ideas based on critical dimensions such as desirabilty, feasibilty and business Impact. These metrics can be customized to the sponsor’s needs and topic, resulting in more credible results in your organization.

2. Followers ≠ Innovators 

Who follows your brand? People who love it, are passionate about it, and want to be publicly associated with it. That’s great for building brand enthusiasm, but are these people likely to be innovators?

In one research study, respondents with the most social media connections and were also the most active in social media were not likely to be prolific idea generators or divergent thinkers. They were not necessarily Early Adopters of new products either. So Facebook CAN be part of your innovation process, but remember, fans only represent your current, highly loyal fan base and are statistically more likely to be Early Mass Adopters or Late Adopters (read: followers). They are not innovators, and in fact are more likely to reject unfamiliar new ideas.

3. Like a conveyer belt

Facebook moves along like a conveyer belt – the kind you load your groceries onto at the grocery store. Posts move along and can get buried under more recent posts. So if you use Facebook for ideation, a great idea uploaded before a long weekend (for example) isn’t likely to get a lot of eyeballs, or be voted up. Or a great idea that is poorly expressed may not go viral. And any idea can get buried in chatter.

IdeaScale allows moderators to ensure all ideas are seen and evaluated equally, regardless of who submits them or when. So you’re less likely to overlook a badly timed or “sleeper” idea.

With all that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Whether you use Facebook fans or your own employees to source ideas, ask yourself:

a. How relevant is a “like” or a “vote?”
How credible are these criteria likely to be at the C-suite level of your organization? Do you need more nuanced idea assessment? Ask us about the IdeaScale Assessment module.

b. Do you have proven innovators in your community, or just fans?
Use Facebook fans to understand how Early Mass/Late adopters may react to new ideas, but don’t expect them to innovate, or let them have veto power over new and disruptive innovations. Ask us how we detect and recruit true innovators.

c. Are you moderating ideas to deliver true crowd wisdom?
Make sure your crowd works like a crowd, not a mob. Active professional moderation and the right workflow ensures the four conditions for successful crowdsourcing are maintained: diversity, independence, decentralization and aggregation. Ask about IdeaScale professional moderation and training.

If you want to learn more, you can contact me at @skuzin, or suzan.briganti@ideascale.com and we can discuss IdeaScale’s Advisory Services offering and how you might benefit.

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