Imagine a Google where you were rewarded for your engagement with your circles, more specifically, what websites you referred your circles too or questions you helped them answer. Aardvark helps users “Ask on Google+” but Prizes.org has all the ingredients to introduce loyalty – an incentive to socialise.
Late last week, people started reporting that Google had introduced a “Ask on Google+” link into their search results where users could pose a question to their circles. Your circles opinions and advice could help solve your question, or at least point you in the right direction – Social Q&A, clearly the intent behind the Aardvark purchase a while back.
Aardvark Social Q&A
In case you forgot about Aardvark, it allowed you to post questions to your social network connections and get an answer back pronto. It had some wizardry that improved helping you ask the right connection; similar interest, etc.
I would like to think Aardvark is the mechanics behind “Ask on Google+”. The acquisition was confirmed on 11/02/2010, close to one year ago, which puts into perspective what Google’s attitude to search is – social – and for how long it’s housed those feelings for.
Prizes.org & Rewards
Prizes.org came about from Google’s acquisition of Slide – who designed third-party applications for Facebook. One of those applications was “SuperPoke! Pets!”, which allowed users to care for and buy items for virtual pets – real money.
Today, Prizes.org allows users to give prizes for a problem they need solving. Creating a new logo, finding the cheapest holidays, for example.
What happens when you take the essence of Prizes.org – rewards and loyalty – and splice it with Aardvark’s social Q&A, all applied in Google’s real-estate?
Easy, imagine a Google where you were rewarded for helping your circles. User searches Google, wants an answer, uses the “Ask on Google+” feature (a.k.a. Aardvark) to pose a question to their circles and whomever answers, or provides the best answer, is given a prize. Let’s say that prize was money, £2 in fact, a credit (digital currency) or an improved score in a topic i.e. home improvement.
Would you be more inclined to help if you knew there was a prize for your engagement?
I think the answer in most cases is, yes. I think if you merge social Q&A from Aardvark and “Ask on Google+” with Prizes.org mentally of rewards – via currency of some sort – for engagement, you build a very strong foundation for success.
Peak into the Future
On steroids now, the digital currency or rewards you’ve received for your engagement is portable via Google Wallet, so when you walk into your supermarket, you can use NFC via your mobile phone to check-out purchasing goods.
For Google, users become more engaged and embedded in the service because their given an incentive beyond social networking to contribute; they become functional parts – helping build and support social connections – while contributing to their own self-motivations.
I think an instalment to Google+’s triumph in the commercial marketplace will be loyalty.
Loyalty or Gamification
Admittedly, Im knew to the term gamification. I always knew of the concept, how it worked and why, but never realised there was a term that described the concept as a whole. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences.
Foursquare is the best example of gamification with badges, Farmville similar with earning coins. I’ve used the term loyalty a lot, which is a huge attribute of gamification.
Let’s say the steroids example, or even rewards for social Q&A weren’t Google’s style. The principles of gamification could do the job; authors i.e. you and I, are scored (via secret sauce), and based on what we say and to whom, we’re scored. Scoring could be visible like they are in Google News, or not.
I have a feeling gamification fits into this post and Google somewhere, it just feels forced at the moment.
Overall, it’s becoming apparent that there is more to Google+ beyond ‘just’ social networking. Comparing Google+ and Facebook becomes more like comparing Apples and Oranges everyday; totally different fruits. What’s your thoughts on the subject; is Q&A here to stay, will Google integrate Prizes, or is it all just hot air?
Reward poster credit via Alton Brown Photos