Tag Archives: brand

Getting a grip – Incentivising UGC


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.

Not that kind of badge! image: Alan_D

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.

SAM BRADLEY

Engagement, identity and user-generated content


The undisputed winner of this year’s Guardian g2 calendar is a 17 year old called Hannah Porter. Her entry, a close-up photo of her face with g2 painted across it, is the front cover of the calendar and g2’s twitter profile picture.

The Face of G2 by Hannah Porter

The Face of g2 b Hannah Porter

She explains the image in a caption underneath:

“I chose to use my face as a canvas because g2 is about two things: what it is made up of and who reads it. And anyone can be a reader, from a middle-aged person to a teenager like me”.

A near-perfect summation of what UGC helps define and reinforce, namely, a media organisation’s identity arrived at through its audience. Building up that inter-relationship is crucial.

The task was to:

“send in your photographs on the theme of G2… You could show an issue on location, spot the letters in your lunch, or find G2 recreated in nature”.

The expectation on the user here is big – they’re asked to spend time, thought and artistic endeavour creating their image. It’s a high level of engagement,  a top scorer on the graph that measures how much effort is required in order for a user to participate. This is far above asking for a thumbs up or down.

And the respondents were true to this. One waited (maybe hours) for birds to settle on a snowy roof (then photoshopped the image into full obeisance). Another shaved the letters into their hair, and a third made the calendar the subject of a family discussion, kids included.

An image of a gravestone reading: Here lies Harriet Bird 1986 - 2011 She loved the Guardian's g2

A dedicated reader, deceased

This reinforces the point – UGC here is not about giving a new angle on a national issue. It’s about telling the story of g2, and building a brand identity that is open, diverse, democratic and creative. The aim of the calendar is to help g2 penetrate as far as it can into its readers’ lives,  make it something they think about, obsess over, define themselves through.

Not all UGC works like this, but the best helps establish a strong and faithful relationship between media outlet and audience.

Doesn’t that give you a warm glowing feeling inside? Happy Christmas.

HARRIET BIRD