Welcome to The Metropreneur’s newest series: Business Briefs. The world of academic publications features fascinating findings from real-world experiments in business and the marketplace. Here are some key takeaways and applicable nuggets of knowledge that may be helpful for your business.
How to be Good at Social Media
It’s important for any business to build buzz for itself. That’s not just a slang term, “buzz” is a word used in the academic world to describe successful social media campaigns. If everyone’s talking about you, then you’ve got buzz. Researchers created and tested a BDS – that’s Buzz Detection System. And it performed with something like 97% accuracy.
In two trials, the team evaluated 155,616 and 57,612 social media posts (respectively) for buzz based on three characteristics: the immediacy, unexpectedness, and intensity of their messages. While immediacy and unexpectedness are self-explanatory, “intensity” is not. Intensity is identified by engagement: number of reactions, shares, comments, and conversations between commenters. They found that two particular factors could distinguish buzz with a high degree of accuracy: a high number of comment-likes, and reactions from users who were previously unengaged.
So, what good is recognizing buzz after the fact? That’s a good question. Here’s the answer for social media managers. You might not even need a BDS, when you see a post that has buzz (that’s immediacy, unexpectedness, and intensity PLUS a lot of comment-likes), view it as a sign of what works right now. Look at the content, look at the style: Imitation is the sincerest flattery, and also the key to writing posts that generate buzz.
Is the Buzz on? – A Buzz Detection System for Viral Posts in Social Media – Nora Jansen , Oliver Hinz, Clemens Deusser, & Thorsten Strufe, Journal of Interactive Marketing
Navigating Workplace Change
If there’s one nice thing about a pandemic, it’s that it gives researchers a chance to study workplace dynamics under the stress of constantly changing conditions.
Recruiting 490 participants, researchers at the University of Miami looked at three common approaches to building an environment that gives employees a sense of stability and engagement during times of organizational change, 1) Focusing on performance goals, 2) Offering feedback and recognition, and 3) Emphasizing a climate of trust.
While all approaches seemed to have positive impact, the authors noted evidence to suggest transparency in the process provided the underlying magic, and it describes transparency as being “truthful, accountable, and (providing) substantial information about organizational change.”
Moreover, this transparency fueled something called “control coping” in participants, a productive path to embracing change that’s characterized by a sense of pro-active connection. So, for example, control coping might involve employees taking action and gaining new skills for remote work, or paying extra attention to back-up planning. Control coping reduces an employee’s sense of workplace chaos and uncertainty.
So the takeaway here? Be transparent, and emphasize pro-active ways of dealing with change.
Employee Coping with Organizational Change in the Face of a Pandemic: The Role of Transparent Internal Communication – Jo-Yun Li, Ruoyu Sun, Weiting Tao, & Yeunjae Lee, Public Relations Review
Marvel as a Business Model
It’s not every day you get to read about Marvel Comic Books in academic literature. But researchers studied the publications as an instructive model for diversity and inclusion efforts in the business world.
As it turns out, Marvel’s model is instructive in what-not-to-do. Comic book sales spiked when the industry giant launched a new initiative to introduce more characters representative of the population. Then sales tanked in a steady decline since 2013.
The original sales spike could be anticipated. Collectors appreciate the value of the first comic in a series, or the introduction of a new character. The decline in sales, though, that was unanticipated, and unwelcome.
So researchers at Franklin & Marshall College looked at 1,500 online discussion posts, and conducted nine interviews with Marvel comic fans. Here’s their conclusion: “Many readers arrived at the politically charged and troubling perception that Marvel turned toward diversity and inclusion simply to increase its profits.”
To explain: Diversity and inclusion should be embraced because they’re good in and of themselves. A business that embraces these values for other reasons, especially financial ones, may be regarded with contempt.
A bigger question is why readers would suspect financial motives? The discussion data suggested that suspicions were based on the lack of backstory for the new characters, and a lack of depth in character development. Further, while weaknesses and vulnerabilities were emergent themes in classic Marvel characters, readers thought those themes were largely absent in the newly introduced characters.
Contrasting case in point: The successful X-Men series has historically included characters from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, but its characters have both weaknesses and backstories.
So what does this mean for inclusion efforts outside the Marvel World? Intentions matter and perhaps, seeing the whole person is as important as the demographic group they might represent.
Diversity, Tokenism, and Comic Books: Crafting Better Strategies – Jeffrey S.Podoshen, Akon E.Ekpo, & Oluwatoniloba “Toni”Abiru, Business Horizons