Tag Archives: websites

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.



UGC Advertising – The ASA STEP IN

As of the first of March, the Advertising Standards Authority now has powers over some user-generated content on the Internet. Excellent, you say. But what does this mean?

As the good people at ASA explain it, they now have jurisdiction over any marketing messages on an organisation’s website, or other ‘non-paid-for’ space under their (the organisation’s), control. And as a result, the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing now relates to that content. This covers rules about misleading advertising, social responsibility and the protection of children.

But when it comes to user-generated content it becomes a little less clear.

Basically, it relates to companies using your reviews or comments about their products in their advertising. Which they are perfectly allowed to do – you say that your hair has thickness and lustre after using Mane & Tail, then they can whack you onto their website as a testimonial.

The problem is separating genuine testimonials from cunning marketing ploys. A typical example might be the selection of positive feedback from message boards or social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook, or from specialized sites like Which? The ASA will apparently take a dim view of glowing reviews that are presented out of their original context – not taking into account, for example, negative opinions about the same product.

Of course, enforcing this will be tough. Quite how they’re going to do it is, as yet, unclear – there is talk of random spot-checks and reprimands for ‘persistent abusers’. But it will be based primarily on the complaint of concerned consumers.

And there are concerns. Some industry-watchers are worried that the rules are still too vague and don’t properly explain what constitutes ‘marketing’ – it’s all very well saying that online advertising has to be ‘legal, decent, honest and true’, but that doesn’t thrash out what the ‘marketing’ element means.

To conclude – it’s great that the ASA can now step in if user-generated content is used for evil. But it would be useful if they could just clear the situation up a little bit.