We wanted to provide the methodology for this voting process — it must be noted that no methodology, scientific, social or otherwise, is perfect. A methodology is often the result of a few factors, namely:
- Financial Limitations
- Sponsorship (sacred cows or lack thereof)
- Limitation of Tools being used in the research (in this case, we used Facebook)
- Project Objectives
- Limitation of Sample Size
- Limitations of Social Reach (part of budget limitations)
- Time Constraints
- Cultural or other biases
- Technology Limitations (part of budget limitations)
- Lack of reliable, existing data
In keeping with the top ten list, we will stop at the 10 limitations but we hope you get the picture. There are so many nuances but if a User understands that the data is not perfect and simply uses the results for their personal objective, then we've done our jobs.
A Social Objective
Destination.ky is a website with a “top ten” theme. The premise is that not a lot of users have adequate time to research everything they need to know about the Cayman Islands before they get here. As an example, if you search for “cayman diving” there are 1.3 MILLION results. Its unrealistic for anyone to even expect users to click beyond the second page of the results pages. So, our main objective is to try to make our Users lives easier by providing a list of top ten for everything relating to the Cayman Islands. Our first voting project was for the dive industry.
How exactly do we get a top ten list for the dive industry without compromising our credibility? This was the big question and the only answer was if we actually got real users to vote for their favorite companies.
It would have been easier to hire a writer and ask the writer to interview dive companies and form an opinion of what the top ten companies for their industry was. But that information would not have been accurate. It would have been biased to no end and we would have lost credibility in the dive industry as well as our users.
So instead we set out to create a program that enabled Users to vote. Our initial software was a couple of years ago when we allowed voting using a Users IP. That bombed because voters within the industry were using VPNs or IP fixers to change their IPs. We didn’t feel we got the correct numbers. Fast forward to today, we have integrated Destination’s voting to Facebook accounts. For this year’s voting tally, we were able to count and verify each user that voted. It felt like a better solution than IP addresses because we could verify each vote using their Facebook accounts.
It is also important to note that we removed a few fake accounts from the voting tally of a few dive companies. A fake account is recognized by a few things…
- The Facebook account is new and set up within the last day or so
- The Facebook account has no friends and no activity and has no photos
- The Facebook account that was set up just to vote
Thank you for the fake votes, it made us smile. We know who you are.
Timeframe and Budget Limits
Screenshot of Destination’s Facebook page and Post Reach during Dive vote
Why did we use Facebook? Its so simple to decide on using Facebook because it is the most widely used Social Media in Cayman (and the world). Also the cost per acquisition in Facebook is significantly practical for a self-funded study like this. Yes sadly, there are no sponsors for this voting process. Because it was new, untested and unproven, we did not have the heart to present it to anyone. Of course after this initial study, you can expect us to be knocking on your doors next year!
We wanted to provide an adequate amount of time for Dive Operators to promote the voting to their fans so we targeted Users in the Cayman Islands. Facebook has a total of 19,000+/- users living in the Cayman Islands between the ages of 21 - 65. With a $60 budget on one sponsored campaign, you could reach all users within 1 day.
We wanted to ensure the reach of as many users in Cayman so we enabled the following…
- A 5 day voting period from Feb. 2 to Feb. 6, 2015 cut-off was at 5pm
- The first day we enabled our first campaign to reach all 19,000 users
- The second day we enlisted other Facebook pages such as I Love cayman and Easy Websites with the same budget as Destination’s Facebook campaign and enable the campaign to reach as many users in 4 days, of course it was just a duplication of the first campaign but we wanted to be sure we reach all the relevant people.
On the third day, we had already reached a total of 15,000 +/- page views and that meant that more than half of our target audience had seen our campaign. Our acquisitions costs did not break the bank and we were more than happy with the number of shares (over 70+), Over 1.5k likes and 22 tweets! We had even reached Twitter without intending to!
A good question is, "Is this the most relevant list of favorite dive operators available in Cayman?” and the answer is yes. It is relevant because it is the first and only social experiment conducted in the Cayman Islands with real users voting for their favorite dive company.
Notice we used the word, “favorite” dive company instead of “best” or “top” dive company. Having a “favorite” list is essentially a popularity vote. But a good point to mention is that a dive company can only become popular and gain the trust of users if they have met the following criteria...
- The dive operator has been in business for a very long time and has garnered a large user base. Some operators like Ocean Frontiers have over 19,000 page likes. You can see their fans really supporting them with Facebook reviews on their Destination.ky business listing.
- A dive operator does not get a large user base without being amazing at what they do
- Its also one thing for a dive operator to have a large user base and another thing for another altogether if he/she can mobilize that user base into voting for them. Having influence over your user base is enough to let us know that your Clients/Customers trust your dive company. We validated each and every vote on Deep Blue Divers and these guys really have passionate fans.
So the conclusion is that the Vote for your favorite dive company is a popularity contest. The more popular your dive company is, the more votes it will get. It also means that your fans trust your service enough to vote for you. It wasn’t easy to vote so we know that if anyone voted, it means they wanted to support your business.
One of my favorite personal dive operators is Living the Dream Divers and they were not included on this list.
One dive company, DiveTech, which actually has two prominent dive shops on Grand Cayman, did not see the Campaign run on Facebook until the last day. So they were not able to mobilize their fan base. Its a shame but at the same time, please note that this is part of the limitations of the project. You will not always be able to get 100% results. Also the Dive owner of DiveTech posted on Destination’s social media that Destination.ky should have joined the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and presented this project. Thank you for the suggestion but we feel that we got involved in the “politics” of the Dive Industry, we would not be able to move forward with anything since everyone will have some sort of personal objective and overall objection on the methodology, essentially rendering us incapacitated in one form or other. We are thankful that we got to do this experiment on our terms and we embrace the results and our limitations on the project. It is also very important to note that there was an element of surprise in this voting methodology. We did not inform any dive operator prior to the launch because we wanted everyone to be on the same playing field.
Please note that the initial dive operator list we had had not been updated for a couple of years. As soon as we turned on the campaign, a lot of new dive operators contacted us and asked to put their business listings up. We updated the dive directory list within 30 mins of dive operators contacting us. The only time we were not able to update the directory was when a dive operator did not have an address and email on their website.
Thank you Cayman Dive Operators!
We want to personally thank all the dive operators who joined this voting process. We could not have done it without you. One of the reasons we didn’t do a “best” dive operator vote was because we know that all the dive operators in the Cayman Islands are World Class.
Other Industries soon come
We will be kicking off the same methodology for voting in other industries such as accommodations, rentals, etc. Please watch out for those. We also welcome any sponsors who are interested in increasing their online exposure.
As always, for any questions, clarifications or if further information about Destination.ky is required please use our contact form.