Effort signals intent

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One of the peculiar features of the new Ello platform is that it’s missing controls that we take for granted now on social networks. You can click retweet and instantly send someone else’s message to your followers. You can click twice in Facebook on the Share button and the message spreads. You can hit the Forward button in Google+.

What do you have to do in Ello? Copy and paste, plus manually attribute to the author:

Content credit: Steve Garfield

Oddly, this isn’t a failure to me, because effort signals intent. My cat can accidentally retweet something just by playing with the computer mouse or stepping on my phone. Bots and scripts can and do reshare and retweet effortlessly all of the time, and that word signals the problem: when something is effortless, you don’t have to commit anything to it. When you don’t have to commit time, energy, effort, or resources to something, it has very little value. How much, to a brand marketer, is a retweet from my cat worth? Even if you’re selling cat food, my cat can’t read, so while the metric says yes, you got some social engagement, the reality is that you got a random cat paw.

If you have to work a little, that puts up a very small barrier to entry. That puts up a tiny speed bump – but to an audience looking for mindless and instant, you may as well have put up the Great Wall of China.

Think carefully in your own marketing about what kinds of engagement require effort and what kinds don’t. Measure carefully those that take commitment and effort, and make a special effort to reach out to those who do commit to you, because they are signaling much greater intent. That intent might be evangelism, might be purchase intent, might be a new personal relationship waiting to happen. Reward it! Reward people commensurate to the effort they make towards you, and keep those who work hardest on your brand’s behalf closest to you.

Not all digital activities are equal!

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