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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Strategy Idea: Activity Based Social Rewards using Location Based Services

Note: I don't work for any of the services mentioned in this post, but Gowalla was a Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 sponsor. 

With thought about how to incorporate more social media tools into Cupcake Smackdown 2.0, I wondered if I could set up social social rewards for attending large events featuring a variety of activities.  Location based is popular these days. FourSquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, Yelp, and now Facebook are all in on it.  I was thrilled that Gowalla sponsored a special event for Cupcake Smackdown 2.0, but what's next for location based services at events? 

Earning a Ride a Caterpillar Activity Badge at Cockrell Butterfly Center.

I wanted to reward people for participating in all the activities via social media, but there was no way to differentiate who did or who didn't participate as everyone checks into one location.  With most location-based mobile applications, the basic function is that a user checks in to a location.  The locations can have a check in range of at least half a mile, so trying to add activities as locations doesn't really work.  They will just be mostly inaccurate.  For events like Cupcake Smackdown 2.0, The Smithsonian, universities, or even Disney's Theme Parks, activity based rewards in location based applications can be useful for engaging visitors in activities, tracking engagement in activities, and an easy way for the user to share the activity with others. 

The Kim Possible Interactive Game at Disney's Epcot is one of the few activities and locations  that is using a similar system (but different technology).  For the Kim Possible Interactive Game, players are equipped with a cell phone and GPS.  They are sent to different locations with a mission (activity) to accomplish.  Once the activities are completed (confirmed via unknown technology), they are sent onto another activity.  Here's some links to write ups about the interactive game:

Here's two different strategies that can use the same tools in a very different way.  Currently, a user checks into a location by selecting it off a list of nearby locations.  My basic idea for these strategies is that users would check into the locations, and then receive badge, items, or points for completing activities.  For example: I would check into Disneyland (the location), and ride the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster, and then check into the "Buzz Lightyear" activity indicating I completed it.

Activities can currently be added as events to some of the available services, but that doesn't people from checking in even if they didn't complete the activity.  This could easily be remedied by password protecting the activity, and distributing the password to users after said activity.  There are two problems with this method: (1) The password gets out, and anyone can use it as long as they are checked into the location, (2) Some locations will have a plethora of activities.  The The Smithsonian has 18 museum, and a daunting list of exhibits and activities.  Scrolling through a list of 100 activities could be views as a pain.   

If possible, one time use QR codes could be distributed to users post-activity allowing them to "complete the activity" on Gowalla or FourSquare.  They could also be posted at the end of a ride as users are leaving the area.  I'm not sure if there is currently an interface with QR code scanners and the location-based mobile applications, but it would be cool if they did.  It would also let people check in or find secret locations or activities that one cannot find unless they scan in. 

Earning the Navigate a Submarine Activity Badge

Strategy 1:

Create a reward system for users who complete certain activities at a particular location.  This is similar to trips on Gowalla.  An example might be having a Super Scientist badge for users who view 12 of the 24 exhibits (I made up that number) at the American History Museum at The Smithsonian   Another might be to award a Thrill Seeker badge to those who ride all the rides at Disneyland Badges and social recognition are important.  I don't need to tell you that.  There are endless posts (like this one and this one) chronicling FourSquare badges.  Don't forget about the use of badges in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

This strategy can also be kicked up by combining it with other similar locations.  For example,  The Smithsonian could partner up with another museum(s) located somewhere else to offer the same type of check in badges.  Users who collect all the badges from specified museums would be rewarded with a big badge, like having a star named for the user.  The target audience for that type of reward does exist, and we want to be Super Scientists.  :o)

Earning the Crawling with Kids Badge at the Smithsonian

Strategy 2:

Show activities to users who check in our your location.  For example, Twin Liquors could show the "Taste X Wine" activity to users who check in frequently.  Disneyland could advertise a secret ride only to users when they have completed certain other rides.  Completing these advertised activities when people check in could earn users a badge. 

This strategy has several advantages. 
  • One advantage is that users' friends will see the badge and want one too.  We already touched on the social value of badges.  That's marketing for the business. 
  • The second advantage is that there is exclusivity surrounding the activity.  It is only offered to people who check in (or other additional requirements), and people like getting things that are special. 
  • The third advantage is the gaming aspect of it.  Like the Kim Possible Interactive Game, fun activities are hidden and must be discovered via clues.  A short game with an activity at the end could easily be embedded into a park or museum.  Augmented reality could also be incorporated to show off new technology.  This engages the users and encourages them to discover new things that might not be related to the game itself. 

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