A Spectrum of Rewards that Motivate Behavior and Engagement

A Spectrum of Rewards that Motivate Behavior from http://jenfongspeaks.comThis morning I was speaking with a social media manager at a direct selling company. He wanted my input on some social media campaigns his company was planning. And he was running into a challenge that any company that wants to play by Facebook’s rules runs into periodically…Facebook Promotions Guidelines state that you can’t use any Facebook mechanism (like, comment, etc.) as an entry into a contest. So if you want to do something quick and fun to generate some engagement on the Facebook Page, you can’t really call it a contest and give away prizes if you’re just looking for people to like or comment. Frustrating, huh?

So I shared with this social media manager a basic fundamental of gamification. It’s a concept called “SAPS,” made popular by Gabe Zichermann, and it relates to why people engage with you, what motivates them. And believe it or not, “stuff”…prizes and tangible goods…are among the lowest motivators. It’s not that they never work. They just shouldn’t be the only things you’re considering to motivate behavior.

Let’s take a look at this spectrum called SAPS.  SAPS stands for Status, Access, Power, and Stuff, and it’s something game designers use all the time when considering how to motivate people to keep playing.

  • Status: Research has shown that Status is the largest motivating factor for players. They are more likely to continue to engage and play when others in the community hold them in high regard. This might be a title that gives you special privileges, or everyone knowing that your post is the most popular because it got the most likes.
  • Access: After Status, Access is the next biggest motivator. This can be things like giving people a head start on a sale or giving people a chance to have lunch with your CEO. People love it when they have an opportunity that others don’t have, and other people know about it.
  • A Spectrum of Rewards that Motivate Behavior from http://jenfongspeaks.comPower: Power is the next motivator, and it refers to giving people a larger role in your experience. For example, they could be selected to be the moderator of your forum (giving them power over the other participants) or one of the judges of your finalists in a contest.
  • Stuff: The least motivating factor on this spectrum is Stuff: the prizes we so commonly think of when designing campaigns. Interesting note about stuff…once people get the stuff, they no longer have a motivation to continue to engage or keep playing. While stuff is sometimes motivating, it shouldn’t be the only thing you think of when you are considering rewards for your campaigns.

This concept of rewards is something we should consider in many aspects of our direct selling businesses. When we talk about the consultant experience, the titles that people achieve as they work their way up the career plan can be considered Status. If your company has a President’s Advisory Committee or something along those lines, that’s also Status (with elements of Access and Power).

When training consultants, earning the Status of an expert or a helper in your online forum gives you a status that encourages you to keep sharing your knowledge. When you complete a certain amount of training, perhaps you earn business supplies (Stuff) or a special conference call training with the CEO (Access).

For our customer experience, sure they can get Stuff when they host a party, but I know of some companies that give former hosts Access by giving them a head start on the company’s annual year-end sale, letting them shop a day or two early.

So whether you’re designing an online campaign designed to promote engagement and loyalty around your brand, or thinking about how to motivate consultants or customers, always think about SAPS, and how each of the 4 levels of rewards on the spectrum can be used in combination to create a more exciting and engaging experience that keeps people coming back.

What kind of rewards do you offer to your customers? To your team? Has the concept of SAPS got you thinking about additional rewards you can offer? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

2 Responses to A Spectrum of Rewards that Motivate Behavior and Engagement
  1. Kate Meier
    May 7, 2013 | 7:40 pm

    I have been reading your blog for about a week now. This is the first comment I have left. I find that you have a large amount of useful information. One thing I am curious about…with SAPS in mind, how do you motivate on a site like Facebook? Thank you in advance.

  2. Lisa Fehr
    February 28, 2013 | 12:14 pm

    Jen, this is brilliant. Absolutely bang-on, as usual. I have noticed especially over the last couple years that stuff is no longer an incentive for most. Exclusive works….access works….yes, yes, and yes. Thank you for this reminder- you are such an observant leader and that is why I continue to stay plugged in. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can use this more to our advantage 🙂

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