12-09-2008 01:40 AM - last edited on 11-05-2010 01:48 PM by NicoBA
Question: Please share a few examples of rewards that worked in your community as well as ones that didn't.
12-09-2008 03:33 PM
A lot of art and a lot of science to this question and plenty of disagreement. Different things work based on audience and goals, but a few universals from my expience.
1) Points (with levels) work - Reputation matters and a core set of users like the accumulate points. It might not turn you on, but it works. Even if you can't exchange those points for something of value discretely - like an auction or marketplace.
2) Marketplaces for exchanging points for stuff: Might work. I'm not a fan. Why? If you are not an etailer, you are now. Do you really want to be an expert in shipping stuff and doing replacements for defects? Or taking endless suggestions for new things to carry in the marketplace. It might work, but if this is far from your core competence, I'm not convinced. If you do it, at least making the marketplaces items relevant. You sell technical products? how about exchange my points for technical training resources - things that make contextual sense. If you sell software and I can exchange my points for a blender or digital camera, then I'm confused.
3) Special access works! This is operationally maybe the hardest, but most powerful. You give special access to your most connect influencers to the key talents inside your company and watch what happens!
4) Early access works - access to info the general public does not have. Your influencers want to be ahead of the game.
5) Private space for them - a special and private online site for them to connect with one another is a good idea
6) Face to face - still relavant and powerful
7) Swag - shirts, mugs, etc - not bad, not enough by itself. You can do this and it's ok to a degree. If it is all you do, you don't have an influencer program.
8) Status - badging, branding, logoing, hosting profiles they can link to on your site - all good.
9) Money - doesn't work...doesn't work...doesn't work. Might work for 1 quarter (short term), but poor long term choice.
In general, think in 4 buckets: Relationships, Special access, status, and MODEST gifts. - then focus on the first 3.
12-09-2008 03:39 PM
see other post on rewards...but one simple example I liked and was low cost. At MSFT we allowed influencers to request a letter sent on their behalf to up to 3 people they designated that shared the announcement on their recognition and status in the MSFT community. People had us send to their boss, admissions at colleges and their moms! It was great fun and really one of those things that influencers came back and really appreciated and shared countless stories on how they felt that letter helped them.
On the what doesn't - I'd avoid menu or flexible menu based benefit structures - not because they are ineffective, but complexity to manage just gets out of hand. Benefits that require PHYSICAL delivery also are challenging. As you scale, you can pay DHL or UPS a larger and larger share of your budget which seems like a bad idea for everyone (except DHL and UPS).
12-10-2008 07:09 AM
Two pieces of advice I'd give, particularly if your community is new or getting ready to launch:
Don't assume that rewards of monetary value are the only thing that matters.
People often think that they can drive more activity by introducing valuable rewards from the get-go. Worse, they often think that they must offer these rewards in order to get people to interact.
If you're an old hand at community you know this, so bear with me in educating others: Tangible rewards are not what most users are there for. The most active members of a community are usually there for a variety of reasons, but the most important is the recognition and respect they get from their peers and from you. Some are there to learn -- and they find that helping others is the best way to stay current. Some are there to teach -- they know they have the skill to help others solve problems. Others are there to help -- they know that we often underestimate the value of our own experience, and so they share it in the hopes others will benefit. Intrinsic motivations drive most of the participation in any community.
Tangible rewards can in fact often interfere with the dynamics of a healthy community. You have 25 users who answer 50 percent of the questions in your community, but you can only afford to reward the top 10. What do you think happens to the other 15? There were satisfied before you added rewards, and now they aren't. That's why reward programs often include drawing or lotteries -- so everyone has a chance, but all are not guaranteed a reward.
Don't move to any type of reward structure too quickly
In a new community, you'll want to get to know your members before you introduce rewards. Why? Well for starters, you don't really know who your influencers are until you spend a few months working with them and observing them in action. As Sean notes, not all influencers are advocates, and how you work with those more critical voices is an important decision. One thing to keep in mind is that influencers develop strong bonds among one another -- so anything you do to promote their sense of unity can backfire if you include those who are influential but active detractors. So develop relationships based first on trust and respect before you introduce rewards.
I usually recommend that you wait 6-12 months after a community launch before you introduce any rewards above and beyond a rank structure or point system. When you reach that point, you can consider some of reward examples Sean mentions or others we covered in the webcast.