Technology Trends: Social Commerce: Gamification, Rewards & Trust


Barb Dybwad
Nicole Lazzaro
Susan Etlinger
Lynn Forbes, moderator


Lynn: VP of Product at BlogHer will be moderating.

Susan: Analyst Altimiter Help large cos with mobile/tech disruptions. Focus on analytics and insights. Favorite game is Scrabble.

Nicole: Pres Xeo made games more fun. Also Xeo play game development. How do games create engagement? When you get into a game time vanishes. Learn skills and wonderful things. Developed 4 keys to fun model. Watched people's emotional reactions to playing games. Studied psych, computer science & documentary film-making. Fav childhood game asking Why? Never got tired of it. Mastermind is second favorite.

Barb: Professional tech blogger for past decade. Head of content at Tecca - cover technology for consumers. User advocate and "huge gaming nerd." Favorite childhood games were on Atari 2600 including Pitfall and Adventure.

Gamification is not a new concept. Older model was green stamps - has been around a long time. Combines games and traditional loyalty/incentive programs.

Cos spent $100 Million and expected to rise to $2.8 billion by 2018.

Lynn: to Barb: Cows and leaderboards

Barb: Time spent on Halo is way to display expertise. Powerful motivator. What are the emotions trying to tap into, behavior want to motivate? How can gamification reward customers?

Nicole: Game mechanics. Games have to constantly innovative so drives lots of UI design advances. Games increase engagement. Can drive intensity people engage in your brand with. Can motivate user behavior. Can increase identification with your product or service by driving emotional attachment. Smartphones, iPhones - in researching found touch, pinch... but if did that to a person's hand would have to be very intimate. Social emotions built into user experience. Collecting apps comes from game mechanics. E.g. looks like a Bejeweled game board.

Susan: Moved from world where play in private or with friends to world with greater consumer power in interacting with brands. Needs to be a signal in the noise that speaks to our hearts. One reason why game mechanics are so important. Think to early days of television... static filming of radio plays. Now our attention spans are too short. Need multiple cameras. Can take 10, 20, 30 years to understand native behavior of new mediums. In early stage of online games, e.g. sheep throwing...

Lynn: Difference between loyalty and gamification?

Susan: Loved collecting badges but stopped with girl scouts when learned project would be charm school and fashion show. Look at where succeeds because failures obvious. Verizon, Samsung... Instead of being on hold with customer service for hours - online community good answers get "leveled up" so you can go and learn how to do themselves. Community essentially does tech support for free. Similar with Beauty Talk at Sephora. Become a community leader by giving good answers/advice. Facebook is personal, e.g. grandmother died. Brand communities are important outlet.

Lynn: Beauty Talk users not hardcore gamers, or Ebay ratings.

Nicole: Geekdom doesn't have to involve tech. Martha Stewart is a geek.

Susan: Everyone has something they are passionate about.

Lynn: This can be the glue in a community.

Lynn: Could you talk about line between building trust and selling?

Barb: Main part of company is content but we do have a commerce aspect. Price comparisons and opportunity to purchase through site. Affiliate model. Not a lot of incentive for us to be evil. Important to us to make sure recognition of our independence is important. Prominently posted transparent ethics policy. Users come to trust that we are following our own ethics policy.

Lynn: Integrity, transparency, labeling.

Nicole: Back to gaming... what is my goal? How can I use games to accomplish? Huffington post gives badges and more you network, higher you level up. What are consequences of that badge? Negative is flaming, spam. Introduced 2nd badge - community badge - level up by identifying bad consequences of 1st badge. E.g. game designers of bay bridge - introduced variable pricing to encourage use on off hours. But consequences are just before price drop, traffic backs up waiting. So think about goals, what you are rewarding and back up systems to encourage desired behavior.

Susan: Donors Choose - more incentive to fund when it's only $25 away from being fully funded. Easy, elegant way to use game mechanics.

Barb: Fold It - enzyme structure. Scientists working on for years, community solved in 3 weeks. How you can inspire a community to solve problems. Way to get away from empty cow flipping to real engagement. Jane McGonagall (sp) the arrow - triumph over adversity one of the highest emotional states - games get us there quickly. Positive psychology - happiest when we are engaged.

Nicole: Built on psychology work of XX? Flow, not to easy, not too hard - optimal engagement. Concept of Fiero. Arms go up, "Yes1" No good English word. Will have more on soon-to-launch blog. Create Fiero moments for your users. Goals, obstacles, opportunity to succeed, friendships/cooperation, create meaning. Points, badges or more deep meaning. Easy, hard, serious, people fun.

Audience: We have an online parenting course. Customers have big parenting problems. Toyed with idea of badges. How to add game dynamics to an online parenting course?

Barb: Study Code Academy.

Nicole: Add humor, wacky e.g. Motley Fool - lightens tone of a serious subject. Cosmo quiz, who you are?

Susan: Trust issue is tough. Need safe space for difficult parenting issues. How do you create levels of trust based on info being shared?

Nicole: Playground for parents?

Audience: Youngzine, CNN for kids. Looking for way to translate points kids build on site to more tangible rewards. Kids lose interest in being on top of leaderboard.

Nicole: Points are extrinsic rewards. People get addicted to the points and removing them leads to reduced behavior than before starting. So important to look for opportunities to build intrinsic rewards. E.g. share successes in activities.

Barb: Is there a way to tie into actual education. Could points lead to internships or scholarships?

Audience: Air B N B to teach people skills, eg. Indian dance, Spanish - exchange or buy lessons. Idea Students rate teachers ratings number of classes = levels? Can use awards to get discounts to continue learning...

Nicole: Great example of alternate currencies will soon have opportunities for browser plug-ins, eg, putting hours for elder care leads to more hours for your care when time.

Audience: Online fitness classes for pregnant women - how do you get women to continue classes? How can I gamify?

Nicole: How to create a game: Simplify the world, clarify the goal, achievable steps, suspend consequences of mistakes/make failure fun, enhance feedback - bonus points. Game plan worksheet on


Need to add new ways of play to get past plateaus/boredom.


[Editor's note: The transcript above reflects what the liveblogger heard, to the best of her ability, but is not a verbatim transcript of the session. As such, it may contain abbreviations or paraphrases.]