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Using Social Gaming As A Model For Respondent Engagement

Phil Michaelson has a great post on his blog on 8 Ways Farmville Designs for Engagement. The topic is incredibly relevant to  MR on several levels. First, as we look to the next evolution of global MR, “serious gaming” …

Phil Michaelson has a great post on his blog on 8 Ways Farmville Designs for Engagement. The topic is incredibly relevant to  MR on several levels. First, as we look to the next evolution of global MR, “serious gaming” is certainly a major opportunity to engage respondents in new forms of data collection. Second, the MR model of engagement leaves much to be desired, and if we’re going to change the value proposition for consumers to give us the benefit of their insight, we need to look at what has worked in other areas. Don’t just take my word for it:

Earlier this week John Doerr, an investor in Google, Amazon, and Intuit, said Zynga is the fastest growing venture he’s ever been a part of.  Zynga’s flagship game, FarmVille, has 3 times the reach of Twitter. FarmVille has 71 million active users while Twitter has around 22 million active users (Twitter has 110 million registered users, of which an estimated 20% are likely active).  Perhaps more impressively, Zynga is estimated to generate $50 million in revenue from the most engaged members who buy virtual goods and keep up a toolbar.

Those are the type of numbers that most MR companies only dream of, but they don’t have to be.The secret is making these activities appeal to consumers and offering a fair value trade for their time and energy. We’re in the business of understanding consumer motivations, so why does it seem so hard for MR to develop participation models that are based on something other than monetary incentives?

Let’s look at Phil’s list of what makes the folks at Zynga so smart:

1. Reward users for returning in a short time period.

2. Reward users for helping friends every day.

3. Allow users to create without typing.

4. Show progress…everywhere…on everything.

5. Make users feel lonely without friends–because if they get friends on, they’ll stay longer.

6. Enable self expression.

7. Offer increasing levels of complexity for mastery.

8. Have surprises & limited time events.

Obviously some of these are easier for MR to duplicate than others, at least according to today’s business practices, but the overall message is that in order to keep consumers engaged we need to find ways to increase the value trade we offer, and not just through incentives. This requires a real shift in thinking for our industry, but if we have any hope of enlisting consumers in the process of insight collection in the future, we better start figuring out what we need to change about our business to make it worth it for them to work with us.  After all, without consumers to talk to, our industry has no future.

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