How do you incentivize user content, without financial incentives? (e.g. user generated reviews?)
We're currently in the process of setting up a website as a resource for our city (Asheville NC) and we want to focus on providing useful information on businesses to people that currently live here, rather than just people visiting (since they are already well covered by places like Trip Advisor.)
Part of the usefulness of the website will come from users providing reviews of businesses that they have used, and we're currently looking at ways to incentivize people to leave reviews.
Do you have any ideas on how we can do that? We don't want to offer direct financial incentives (we don't have the budget for that), but we do have a few initial ideas including:
- A reviewer of the week or month, featured on the front page of the site
- Providing accolades that people can earn on the site (Top reviewer for a particular area)
- The opportunity to become an 'authority' reviewer in a particular area
- Weekly or monthly competitions with prizes like 2 for 1 vouchers or discounts from local businesses
Do you have any other suggestions on simple, effective ways that we could incentivize locals to leave reviews please?
I've helped an assortment of local businesses with marketing so I've got some perspective of the fundamentals. At the end of this response I have included some resources sharing what others are saying.
One of the most important reasons why customers leave reviews: they were asked by the business owner or manager. One option you might consider is postcards for your local businesses to hand to customers at the end of the transaction.
One of the most important reasons why customers don't leave reviews: you're asking too much of them. Look for ways to simplify the review process. Are customers required to log in to leave a review? How many fields or questions need a response from them? Less is more.
Your list of initial ideas looks good for engaging the champions of the reviews. Pareto's principle might apply: the 20% of reviewers who participate in the incentives program might account for 80% of reviews. Test each incentive for impact.
With my clients I recommend rolling out initiatives in 100-day projects so that can test for specific outcomes and pinpoint the impact of different tactics. Feel free to reach out if you're interested in learning about the methodology behind these projects.
And now, some resources:
Fast Company covered Yelp's approach:
KISSmetrics on the topic:
Here's my profile. Reach out if you think I can help more. http://www.mosaichub.com/member/p/sean-power
Your looking at a yelp type hub where people add their thoughts and reviews for local businesses. This done with no financial transaction, but depending on how the site is managed is it public or private, can you have advertisers that want to promote their company by give coupons, gifts rebates can you use the advertisers to financially support the site and use part of the funds towards incentives, be it cash, gifts, gift cards, sponsored events.
People love, accolades, points, super user rated and so on.
You need to ask does your organizations site that your are creating have the proper methods to track the transactions or types of incentives you want to do.
Promoting and marketing your site will be key to bringing people to your site and your content plan.
Paul M. there are many ways, digitally you can offer content on your customers interests, free e-books, free low cost digital products or services. Go to Warrior Forum.com, you'll find most of what you are looking for.
Paul, in addition to some of the great ideas you came up with I would reach out to your local chambers, community organizations, and networking organizations that serve Asheville and ask for their participation. The benefit for them is that they could help to create momentum in getting their business noticed. Also a number of local small businesses do business with other local small businesses so they could leave relevant information about their experiences. The business owners also tend to live in the same area as their business so they could help via word of mouth to grow your user base. As far as the construction of the site goes I would make it as easy and intuitive as possible to leave a review and I'd urge you to make sure the site is mobile friendly. You contributors to have an easy way to leave information at any time and most of the time people are on the go.
Investigate the concept of "gamification." It's just what it sounds like -- provide a framework for contribution that makes it feel like a game. Provide "points" for most frequent or most highly rated contributors. Get a competitive feeling going. Provide some kind of visual "badge" for top contributors. I see from your bulleted list that you've already arrived at some of these ideas. You're on the right track.
I understand the problem that it cannot be financial incentive all the time. Incentive can by including them in the community and giving them back useful reports, information and special offers. I can give example of a travel site where I was asked to give my review. Since then I keep getting promotions and also information on other hotels and reviews which could help me when I plan my travel. The trck will be to ,making the information useful enough that it serves as an incentive to contribute reviews. None the less this is tough one.
I think you should consider taking inspiration from mosaicHUB. Why? Because experts from various fields are posting their answers ( almost reviews ) with very little reward apart from 'badges' and being ranked higher than everyone else. mosaicHUB is a great example of asking people to do what seems to be quite tedious but rewarding them with badges, stickers or whatever you decide to call it. People love to belong to certain groups as well, perhaps worth considering 'Best Review' user group in which one only gets admitted upon reaching a certain threshold. I hope this helps and best of luck with your project!
Superb answers all, thanks so much for sharing your insight!
tell me something I don't know already.
if your site is going to stand out then you need a different approach. Take shoprite, bently or google and facebook for example they aim at giving great services and not bribing customers with ever ending competitions that people literally enter because they are bored.
I would suggest that you keep your site classy by having dreamy or certain type of professionalism to make your clients feel like they above all in this world.
Add a little sophisticated social environment that will keep the traffic moving in and out of your site by were users will get to discuss what you are selling or promoting.
that's my advice.
The users incentivized by direct financial incentives form a small percentage from the potential audience spectrum. The majority will be attracted only by making them feel associated to the business portal. To achieve that, we have to design it in a way to make it customer oriented rather than transaction oriented. Some tips could help you in this respect.
--Think of customer motives in buying your products and services.
--Address these motives and show these potential customers how your services are matching their needs.
--Make it an interactive site whereby complains and responses are dealt with in an open and transparent manner.
--Gradually, you will find that trust and customer confidence have reached an unprecedented level making the site your most powerful selling tool.
Wish you the best of luck.