Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sell Selfish

Sorry all for the delay in this posting, it has been a hectic several days.

I wanted to give "Josh" a public thank you for being the first person to comment on the blog!

Incidentally, his comment transitioned the conversation perfectly into today's topic.

So our title is Sell Selfish. What does that mean?

The basic premise is thus: "People will do what benefits them" WIIFM! (whats in it for me?)

So to frame our discussion a bit more tightly, Sell Selfish will be my motto when discussing how to motivate a group of people to contribute as you wish them too with a particular focus on web based communities .

So how does this apply to Learning 2.0?

"Learning 2.0 will be connecting people who need to know with people who know on demand."

That is easier said than done.

The burning question now is what would it take to get someone who "knows" to expend effort relaying their knowledge to someone who "needs to know"?

The simple answer is make it benefit them!

Lets talk about how to make this happen.

$$$ MONEY $$$
Money is the universal extrinsic motivator, kind of like the "water" of motivators. Everyone could use a little more cash-in-hand. Paying those that know, to spend time & effort imparting their knowledge will work. No questions asked.

  • Universal - will motivate just about everyone
  • Tangible - easy to see the value
  • Sellable - easy to sell or advertise
  • Expensive - costs you money
  • Not scalable - as your community grows, so does the cost to incent the community
  • Offensive - some of your major contributors that aren't motivated by money could be turned off by the fact that you offer it.

Rewards/ Stuff / Toys / Trinkets / Deals / Points
Many people will contribute if they are rewarded with things rather than just cash. Clearly, this model works as we see time and again, internet banner adds saying; "Fill out a survey. Get 2 free Ring Tones"

What about answer a question, (accurately) and get a chance to win an iPhone?

  • Universal - Motivates many people
  • Tangible - As with pure money its an extrinsic reward
  • Cheap(er) - As opposed to money, the rewards you give away for participation can be just about anything. They could be iPods to coupons or points towards just about anything. Cambrian House is one company that motivates users with "points"
  • Cost - These rewards, while cheaper, still cost you money which will inevitably cut into the bottom line.
  • Offensive - as with money, people can be offended by what is offered in trying to garner their participation
  • Must be distributed - depending on what you offer, if its tangible, you have to ship it. Often times, this is an undesired challenge.

*** Reputation / "Rep"/ Street Cred / Kudos ***
Some people are intrinsically motivated. They do things just to be recognized for doing them. Reputation tracking encompasses the idea of a "flat" world where everyone is equal until proven not. Believe it or not, one way to get people to contribute what they know, is purely by recognizing that they know it!

  • ITS FREE! - this costs nothing and its still rather effective!
  • It scales - no matter how large our community gets, recognizing contributes costs the same.
  • Will not work on everyone - just that, some people just don't care if people "know they are cool"
Off the top of my head, those are the most frequently used "methods" to motivate people to participate. Not a new concept but a different take on something old, maybe like the Curves for learning communities? O.K, Maybe not that innovative.

As a note, I plan on exploring the concept of incenting and motivating community use and methods by which to do that further, BUT for those of you interested, it won't be on this blog. Keep looking though shortly there will be a forum where we can all talk about it!.

On the other hand, lets keep exploring "How We Learn" and some of the ideas behind that.

Next time: Why don't the pieces fit? Connecting people to people.


Tango the gifted Llama said...

I agree with your initial list and wonder if there aren't other. You bring up a good point that money *could* detract from the experience with some pursist users who want to pretend they don't need it. So why not make it optional and make the money tranfers softer by filtering it through PayPal?

I'm excited to see what's next!

Josh said...

One thought to keep in mind with the rewards category is that if you are creative in your approach you can at times find sponsors who will not only provide you with the swag for the reward but actually pay you for the privilege. Clearly this is heavily dependent on the type of market you have as well as the size of your user base. The sponsor approach does a lot of great things for you and should be carefully considered, just choose your swag carefully, if you get the reputation for handing out junk the whole thing backfires.