Assessing Social Media Sophistication: The Social Media Quiz (SMQ), V4

Assessing Social Media Sophistication: The Social Media Quiz (SMQ), V4

The Denovati Social Media Sophistication Quiz (SMQ) has been one of the most popular SMART Resources we have created. Now in its fifth year of use, the fourth version generally represents the universe of social media sites and tools and can be used to quickly capture people’s knowledge and experience. This article provides an overview and a link to the latest version of the quiz on SlideShare, offers suggestions for using it, and requests feedback. The answer key can be downloaded on request.

Designed to assess people’s knowledge of and engagement with social tools and technologies, the Denovati Social Media Sophistication Quiz (SMQ) is one of the most popular SMART Resources we have created. Not only has it been viewed and downloaded over 10,000 times via SlideShare (primarily on our old SMinOrgs channel), it is always a big hit when I use it as an icebreaker and discussion/instructional aide in my own presentations and workshops.

I created the original “fast and fun” version in 2009 and revised it significantly in 2011 to more accurately reflect the social media universe, correct some of the recognized weaknesses in the first version, and better capture people’s knowledge and experience. The second version was a lot more complex than the original version, so it wasn’t quite as “fast,” but it was still “fun.” More importantly, it was a more valuable tool for learning and discussion.

The quiz was updated again in September 2012, but the changes were not significant. When I originally published the third version, I wondered if the relatively minor changes over the course of a year were perhaps a sign that things were finally settling down…

I reviewed the quiz again in the summer of 2013, and the answer appeared to be mostly “yes.” Although a variety of new platforms and tools had either been introduced or experienced dramatic growth in the preceding year or two, most of them were variations on existing social/technological themes rather than being dramatically different innovations. Given that, though it was tempting to replace one of the existing SMQ items with an icon representing one of the newer offerings, it didn’t seem particularly necessary.

The answer key, on the other hand, required more significant updates. Even though the quiz items had remained a relatively stable representative sample, the universe of platforms and tools they represented had changed in some key ways. Some of the more significant changes included:

  • The introduction and rise of tools like Vine, Instagram videos, and Snapchat
  • The discontinuation of iGoogle and Google Reader (and the rise of tools to replace them)
  • The shutting down of Posterous (which, along with the acquistion of Tumblr by Yahoo!, has caused people to wonder about the future of this type of platform)
  • The closing of most stand-alone LBS services (e.g., Gowalla), and the removal of Facebook Places as a stand-alone feature
  • The acquisition of Seesmic (Twhirl) by its rival, HootSuite, and Twitter’s shutting down of the mobile and desktop apps of TweetDeck (which caused many people to switch to other platforms)

Changes to the SMQ to Create Version IV

The social software universe continues to be in flux. As I wrote last summer, many changes seem to reflect maturation, with ongoing consolidation, refinement, and stabilization in the social technology space – both in terms of the platforms and tools themselves, as well as with respect to the organizations creating and managing them. But there are some more dramatic changes as well, which seemed significant enough to warrant changing the Social Media Sophistication Quiz. In particular, two types of services were worthy of inclusion as independent items:

  • The first is group messaging applications like Snapchat, WhatsApp, GroupMe, LINE, WeChat, Tango, KIK messenger and FB messenger. These apps reflecting the ongoing popularity of mobile messaging, as well as what appears to be a desire to share more privately and less permanently.
  • The second addition reflects new interest in a social media platform/tool that’s been around for a while: community-driven question-and-answer services. Most people are familiar with Quora, which has been publicly available since 2010. When it first launched people hailed it as the “next big thing” (okay, so that always happens), but it never took off to the extent people expected it to (that happens a lot too). Recently, however, one of the founders of Twitter launched a Q&A app called Jelly, and there’s another called Need. And of course there’s Ask.fm.

Because I’m committed to limiting the SMQ to 20 items, adding these two groups of apps necessitated removing two others. Although it wasn’t easy, I finally decided to eliminate the following:

  • Klout and other tools to measure social influence. I haven’t heard much about Klout lately (and you virtually never hear about its competitors), and when I did a quick Google search, the results didn’t produce anything current that was significant. Of course, right after I changed the quiz I heard about #NewKlout. It seems they’re still committed to social influence, but now they’re shifting to content curation. Given that, I think I made the right call to remove them from the quiz.
  • FourSquare and other location-based services. Yes, FourSquare is still around, but it’s not the hot property it once was. As I noted in my post last summer, there seems to be a shift away from stand-alone location-based services and features, particularly as a social media tool. Location tracking now is more often used to serve some other purpose, such as sales and marketing.

The SMQ, V4

You can view the Social Media Sophistication Quiz (SMQ) below or click here to access it on our SlideShare channel.

[iphorm_popup id=”10″ name=”The Social Media Quiz (SMQ) Answer Key”]Click here to download the answer key[/iphorm_popup]

How I Use the SMQ

The SMQ has been a great addition to my presentations and workshops, both as an ice-breaker and to illustrate particular points (e.g., the social media universe extends well beyond LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). Therefore, I try to include it whenever time allows. Since I typically present to social media novices and initiates, it usually only takes them a few minutes to complete the quiz. Once everyone’s ready I ask them for a show of hands for each category and then narrow it down to the highest scorer, who wins a small prize (usually something paper-based – I love the irony). We then walk through the quiz as a large group, identifying the answers together. This process can be somewhat time consuming, but it’s worthwhile for a number of reasons:

  • The first pass through the quiz highlights what they don’t know and reinforces how big the social media universe is. Even when they “cheat” (discussing answers with their neighbors, looking things up on their mobile devices), which I strongly encourage, their scores are pretty low.
  • The second pass highlights that they know more than they think they do. Once we start talking, the light bulbs go off and they start to realize they they’re much more aware of and actively engaged with social technologies than they thought. When we talk about Flickr, for example, they can easily identify other photo sharing sites.
  • The second pass also teaches them about new sites and tools they weren’t previously aware of. Social bookmarking platforms, for example, are still relatively unknown, as are aggregator sites like HootSuite and NetVibes.
  • The discussion also highlights how quickly things change. I often ask the group to identify platforms and tools that seem to be missing, and they invariably identify one or more of the latest hot digital properties (e.g., Snapchat). They may also identify something that’s fading away or virtually disappeared (e.g., MySpace). We may also talk about some of the consolidation and other shifts in the constantly-in-flux social space.

I distribute the answer key after the debrief concludes.

Other Potential Uses of the SMQ

In addition to being included in presentations and workshops as detailed above, the SMQ can also be used:

  • To jump-start conversations about social technology sites/tools and their value/usage.
  • To guide the development of social media presentations/courses, by providing the quiz in advance and using the results to identify preliminary knowledge/engagement.
  • As a way of assessing individual sophistication, in conjunction with training and college courses, or in terms of measuring readiness for organizational initiatives.
  • As a preliminary means of testing and screening self-proclaimed social media experts (though be careful of legal risks if used as part of the employee hiring process).

Feedback Still Welcome

Since social and digital technologies, platforms, and tools will continue to change, a fifth version of the SMQ is inevitable. Given that, I continue to welcome any and all feedback on the following (I’ve emphasized the areas I’m most interested in):

The instructions and scoring details

  1. How clear are the quiz and scoring instructions?
  2. Do the scoring ranges/labels make sense? Did your score match your sense of your own sophistication? Why or why not? What changes would you suggest?

The selected sites/tools

  1. Do you think there’s a better icon to represent a specific category of site/tool (e.g., StumbleUpon or Digg rather than Reddit?)
  2. What strikes you as missing? What other platforms/tools would you recommend?
  3. Do any sites/tools seem too arcane/rarely used to include?
  4. What sites/tools, if any, have such a strong US bias that they limit the global value of the quiz?

Validity and application

  1. What limitations do you see in terms of validity and reliability? How can the quiz be improved as a (quasi) scientific measure?
  2. What other applications can you see for the quiz?

We appreciate your feedback to both improve the quiz and identify ways in which it can be used. Please feel free to share this article/the quiz with others and solicit their feedback as well. Thanks!

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