Incentivising can at times be a complex concept but when done well it transforms everyday interaction with a site into a game or a competition. You gain points for greater engagement, which gives you access to extra levels and features.
In this way, sites can effectively lure you into doing things you’d otherwise consider terribly boring – such as filling out surveys or reading and commenting on articles.
There is an element of this season’s Internet buzzword, ‘gamification’, about it. At the SXSW Interactive Festival, a lot of attention was given to this shiny new idea, where the principles of gaming were applied to ordinary tasks like work. Again, one advances through ‘levels’ as tasks are completed, gaining extra skills as obstacles are overcome. It’s just that in this scenario, the obstacle isn’t a jackal-headed god from the Underdark – it’s a Monday morning staff meeting.
Even social networking sites have cottoned on. Chinese Facebook-alternative Renren is heavily game-based (according to bilingual users – my Mandarin’s a little rusty), which combines the social aspect of a Facebook with the cut-throat competitiveness of Call of Duty.
The basic principle is one of loyalty. Incentivising retains a community – something called a ‘sticky’ experience where first-time users are encouraged and interested, but not overwhelmed by information. Hence Renren’s considerable success, as the games aspect pleases those who aren’t content with a simple social network.
The reason this all springs to mind is the ‘social rewards and analytics platform’ Badgeville. Launched only last year, Badgeville has recently announced that they’ve got fifty new clients signed up to use their widgets in only their first two quarters.
The principle behind it, as I understand it, is along the lines of the Facebook ‘like’. Users click on ‘Like’ buttons attached to website content, particular product-orientated Facebook pages and are rewarded on leaderboards, with the eponymous badges and various other treats. This will then result in a company-loyal community of followers, whose interests (gleaned from Badgeville’s analysis of their ‘likings’), can direct the company’s efforts.
Devious indeed, your2pencers – but it’s worth it for a badge.