Motivating online reviewersJune 19th, 2008
I posted a couple weeks ago about “pay-for-review” programs that some websites are using these days and how this can often provide the wrong incentives for review posters. The ideal online user contribution will come from a person who is genuinely interested in sharing her knowledge or opinion, though we all know ideals are often far from reality. Besides, few of us have the time or patience to watch our consumer review website grow one review at a time. There are, however, ways you can motivate your users to post useful content without resorting to expensive cash payments.
Points and user status rewards
This is one of the first things we implemented on singletracks, mainly because it cost us nothing and our budget was tight. Members receive points for various actions they take, and the point values are weighted to reflect the value of the content to us. For example, reviews are worth 1 point, photos 2, and new listings are worth 3. With contribution points we can rank our users and the competition has proven successful at maximizing participation as members jockey for the top spot.
Along with the contribution points we introduced user badges to signify various point levels and the badges are visible alongside content posted by that user. Earning status badges give users a sense of pride in their contributions and as a side benefit, give new readers an easy way to identify the experience level of each content author. Most modern forum software includes a similar ranking system, mainly because it works!
With Review App you can create custom lists to allow your members to track and collect listings on their profile page. For example, on a BBQ restaurant review website you might want to allow members to create a list of places they have eaten. Now let’s say a new user starts adding restaurants to his list and notices his favorite BBQ joint doesn’t have a listing yet so he can’t add it to his list. He’ll now be motivated to add a listing for that restaurant to keep his list up to date, giving you the content you desire!
Generating new content for your website via a contest is perhaps the lowest-tech method you could employ (and the only one mentioned that costs anything) but it’s tough to avoid just because it’s so darn effective. We’ve hosted dozens of contests to see who can add the most new listings in a month, who can post the best photo, etc. and the results are always huge. Oftentimes the prize can be as simple as a t-shirt with your website logo but the bigger the prize, the more new users and new content you’ll attract.
Contribution points, lists, and contests are just a few ways you can motivate your members (and potential members) to give you the content you need – use them wisely and often!