Sound Off! on Hey! Nielsen
The Problem of Points of Origin
One of the problems that Hey! Nielsen faces is that the fans who reach the site are almost all primarily arriving via other forms of social networking: Message Boards, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc. The problem is that many of these people, then, are used to the systems already in place, and a whole new interface (And a confusing one: opinions, ratings, comments are all unique measurements to the site, as we’ll get to tomorrow) is nearly impossible to understand immediately.
Supernatural fan Franzi, a Livejournal user, notes that “the way livejournal works, it would never occur to one that a new opinion is like an entire livejournal post; at best, we’d think it was the start of a new comment thread and at worst, a single comment. Quite simply: we do not use social networking sites or message boards to any significant degree.” This problem is not new: a great deal of television fans are not tech savvy twenty-somethings who can easily adapt to a new social networking system.
Jericho fans, meanwhile, heard about it through their most universal form of communication: the CBS Message Boards where much of the Nuts for Jericho campaign originated (Although it has grown into a large and great series of other sites).
“I first heard about Hey!Nielsen on the CBS/Jericho Message Board,” says Jericho fan WelcometoCO. “Somebody’s posting listed a link in which you could express your interest in Hey!Nielsen.”
While Jericho fans come primarily from a message board environment, they still faced the same problem: spurred on by calls to action, they jumped into Hey! Nielsen and saw it as an avenue for their fandom. This is fandom that has been well-developed within a certain environment, but when unleashed on something different in even a direct fashion it will (inevitably) run into a few hiccups.
The Root of the Problem
Therefore, when it comes to the problems that Hey! Nielsen needs to address, the root of their confusion issue (Which will be discussed in further detail tomorrow) is that their learning has often been limited to certain systems. The large glut of social networking sites have not forced everyone into conformity, but rather created a dozen different skillsets that are not always transferrable.
In developing the site, then, this really needed to be considered. There is nothing that really explains what Hey! Nielsen is: it’s really an amalgam of Digg, with a little bit of Facebook/MySpace thrown in for good measure, but taking two popular mediums and combining them does not mean people will understand. Fans are a diverse group of people, and any new social networking site needs to reflect this within its design and mission statement.
A relative tutorial that explains what each of the site’s options is compared to other social networking forms. When I first equated “Opinions” to message board posts, fans were shocked that this was the case: if that had been done in the first place, I don’t think that there would have been the same level of problems. Creating an entire new lexicon of terms might sound like a good idea, but all it creates is confusion. Understanding those differences and adapting the system to reflect that is a great way to solve the problem fans have put forward.
For all of the Jericho and Supernatural fan responses regarding how they came to Hey! Nielsen, keep reading after the jump.
Supernatural fan Shoi learned from word of mouth:
I was linked to it by a few friends, around when it was still in an invite only stage. Later it was pointed out that signups were open, so I created an account.
All of the Jericho fans surveyed (azlady4, Starfire, WelcometoCO, foxgray1) all heard about the site through the Jericho CBS Message boards.
Hanncoll, a Supernatural fan who was instrumental in helping me gather this feedback, also discovered it through the LiveJournal Community.
I’m involved with the fan movement to promote Supernatural. Someone saw a post about Hey! Nielsen, and commented about it on an unrelated post I’d made in the promote_spn LiveJournal comm, saying she immediately thought of our campaign when she saw it.
Extending outside of that community, Supernatural fan Dana discovered it through Supernatural Underground, a site designed to give the show’s fandom a professional point of information.
The rest of the fans polled all discovered the site through LiveJournal, which shows the level to which these other social networking forums are working in bringing fans together. Now, it is most important that other sites like Hey! Nielsen start to recognize this.
It’s not too late to make your voice heard: do you have your own story to tell about transitioning between two different social networking forums? How could this have been helped by Hey! Nielsen? Would a point of origin-specific tutorial be effective in helping new users? Leave a comment below to enter the discussion!