Gamification for Collaborative Consumption (part 2 of 2)

This is my answer for the third written assignment of the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. The question in full can be found here.

You are approached by Rashmi Horenstein, the CEO of ShareAll, a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space. She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize business. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

Define business objectives

The main objective is “to take the business to the next level,” i.e. to generate growth for ShareAll in its market, and as a result to increase profits.

There are three sub-objectives to achieve this growth:

  1. Increasing the sharing activity of existing customers
  2. Attracting new customers to the service
  3. Attracting new business partners

Photo from Australian National Maritime Museum via Flickr Commons
Photo from Australian National Maritime Museum via Flickr Commons

1. Increasing ‘shares’

  • Making the customer experience game-like is a powerful way to make using ShareAll fun. A fun service will increase customer engagement.
  • Increasing engagement leads to more use of the service, therefore more ‘shares’ activity. The more activity, the more money ShareAll makes.
  • Offering different types of fun allows engagement with different types of customers. Some might prefer achievement fun over people fun, for example.
  • Tangible and intangible rewards offered within the gamified system will encourage more ‘shares’ activity.
  • Building a social element into the ShareAll experience. It’s fun to interact with others, which is the central feature of a collaborative consumption service.
  • Progression: getting good at games gives the player an experience of moving towards mastery. Using ShareAll can be tied to progression; customers have fun as they get good at sharing.

2. Attracting new customers

  • Emphasising how much fun the service is to use will appeal to new customers
  • Engaged customers will introduce friends to ShareAll, meaning more customers
  • New customers may be attracted by the rewards offered by the gamified system, such as status, access, power or stuff

3. New Partners

  • Increasing profitability and customer numbers would make ShareAll a more attractive partner for other businesses
  • More partners whose assets can be shared would help ShareAll attract even more customers
  • Snowball effect – momentum of growth increases.

Describe your players

ShareAll appeals to a wide demographic range, like Ebay or Etsy. It is useful to distinguish between vendors – those who share assets that they own, earning ‘shares’ – and users – those who use shared assets, buying them with ‘shares.’

Both users and vendors are customers of ShareAll, although they use the service in a different way. The same person might be both a vendor and a user, and so it is important that the overall system is balanced, rather than being unfairly weighted in favour of one or the other. The system is founded on cooperation between vendors and users. There is naturally a competitive market between vendors, allowing users to get the best deal. The gamified system will encompass both the competitive and the collaborative nature of the service.

Photo from National Archive of the Netherlands via Flickr Commons
Photo from National Archive of the Netherlands via Flickr Commons

Delineate target behaviours

ShareAll charges a small transaction fee whenever Shares are generated, traded, or spent. To maximize this income, ShareAll should motivate its customers to increase their sharing activity.

1. Vendors generating more ‘shares’ by sharing items or by volunteering their time to complete tasks for others. Consider their motivation to do so under self-determination theory. The idea of collaborative consumption depends on vendors sharing, so we should link vendors’ actions to aims of the whole ShareAll economy (relatedness). Vendors should feel in control of their own ShareAll journey (autonomy), with freedom to share as they wish. Vendors and users will enjoy becoming good at sharing (competence).

2. Users spending more ‘shares’: this will be the result of more sharing activity within the system.

3. Participating in the ShareAll community and feedback system (see below for details) – the feedback system is a shared repository of shared experiences, nurturing the social network of users that collaborative consumption depends on. In addition, the community is how vendors get feedback from users.

4. Trading more ‘shares’: this will be the result of more users buying in to the system (exchanging money for ‘shares’) and more vendors cashing out (exchanging ‘shares’ for money).

5. Introducing friends to the service: to build on the potential for social fun, existing customers are encouraged to refer friends to the service. Users get offer a bonus for referring a newcomer, and additional bonuses for guiding that newcomer during their first month to aid the onboarding process.

Metrics: The number of shares generated, traded and spent are measured within the system. Community participation is measured by numbers of posts, comments, user logins. Introductions are measured by new registrations to the system.

Photo from Tyne and Wear Museum Archives via Flickr commons
Photo from Tyne and Wear Museum Archives via Flickr commons

Devise activity loops

At a very simple level, ‘shares’ are used like a currency, earned by vendors for sharing assets, and spent by users accessing assets in the system. ‘Shares’ can be exchanged for money. It is in the best economic interests of vendors to earn as many ‘shares’ as possible, and for users to get the best deal as possible for their purchase.

Users earn experience points (XP) every time they access a shared asset. XP is an ongoing personal score, which confers status, access, power or stuff on the user. Users can join leaderboards to compare their XP (status), or can access special assets at a certain XP level (access, stuff). Accumulating XP gives users access to a limited supply of ‘gold’ which has no equivalent ‘shares’ or XP value. Users award ‘gold’ to vendors whose assets were especially enjoyable to use, conferring power on the user. In addition, users can choose to seek out a wide range of unique badges and achievements based on their own tastes, all of which can be shared socially.

Vendors earn ratings through a community feedback system made up of user-awarded reviews. Users rate the assets they have accessed, and the vendors they have accessed them from. (“Campervan: 8/10; Jim: 9/10”) Endorsements accumulate, like eBay seller ratings, conferring prestige and trustworthiness on vendors. All vendors have a rating score, and those who have provided exceptional service will have ‘gold.’ Users compare vendor performance as they choose which assets to access. To attract users in a competitive ShareAll market, vendors will be motivated to maximize their rating score and their ‘gold’ by providing as good a sharing experience as possible.

Users earn XP for participating fully in the community feedback system, and can gain extra rewards for high quality testimonials: uploading a photo might earn a combination of ‘shares’ and XP; uploading a video review might earn more. As well as tangible rewards for giving endorsements, users get social fun by being part of the ShareAll community, and the fun of helping – giving feedback helps the whole ShareAll economy (relatedness). Users are encouraged to give feedback using simple tangible rewards, and more complex intangible motivating factors. The review system offers the vendor feedback, showing the wider positive impact their choice to share has had on users (relatedness, autonomy). For vendors, it’s fun to see others enjoy the assets (helping fun, social fun).

Long-term engagement with ShareAll will be nurtured by giving customers a sense of progression towards mastery. Customers can take on quests and challenges that need meaningful choices to complete. Users level up by accumulating XP, and by completing specific challenges. More user access to ‘gold’ at higher levels lets the experienced have more influence on vendor prestige. Successful challenges and achievements are represented via badges on customer profile pages. Some quests might involve the collection of several achievements, others might celebrate how existing users support newcomers. Higher level quests will be more difficult for the customer to complete, but will lead to better rewards. Cusomters who reach the highest levels will have the ability to create their own quests within the system.

Don’t forget the fun

The system offers a range of fun types for different customers.

  • Social Fun – a central feature of a collaborative consumption service
  • Achievement Fun – achieving badges, levelling up, community feedback makes vendors feel like they are good at sharing (competence) quests for users and for vendors (completion)
  • Collections – collecting badges, XP, and ‘gold’
  • Competitions – optional leaderboards
  • Relatedness – the feedback community helps vendors and users feel part of the wider ShareAll movement
  • Meaningful choices / Progression – see engagement loops above

photo via National Archive of the Netherland, Flickr Commons
photo via National Archive of the Netherland, Flickr Commons

Deploy appropriate tools

In addition to the financial incentives of the in-world currency ‘shares,’ the system is based on three types of points for different activity within the ShareAll system.

  1. XP – experience points, an ongoing life score for the user, gained by accessing shared assets, and for completing desired tasks within the system, such as participating fully in the community feedback system. Lead to status, access, power, stuff. (see ‘loops’ above).
  2. Ratings – feedback given to vendors by users based on the quality of users’ asset sharing experiences. All vendors have a ratings score that can go up or down based on their performance.
  3. Gold – points for vendor excellence, given by users. Access to ‘gold’ is limited, especially at lower user levels

The catalogue users choose assets from will include ratings and ‘gold’ scores for all vendors, making it a de facto leaderboard.

Customers can take on quests and challenges that need meaningful choices to complete. As well as these kinds of points, the rich qualitative rewards of the community feedback system foster a meaningful, personal connection between vendors and users where ‘gold’ is a thanking mechanism.

I’ll be posting my thoughts about the course here under this tag. Use the hashtag #gamification14 on twitter to join in the conversation.

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