Cultivate Labs Support Article

Cultivate Labs Support Articles

Keeping Participants Engaged - Incentives

Incentives don't always have be about money. In fact, the incentives we've seen work best have more to do with self-motivation than carrots.

Figuring out the appropriate incentives for your company or customers can be difficult. We've tried to assemble this list of what people have tried or ideas we've recommended of how to provide continuing motivation.

  • Length of Questions: Depending on the types of questions you run, ideally they should be a mix of long-term and short-term, or all short-term. By having some or all of your questions be short-term, users are more active on the site because things are current, and they see how they do right away. If questions are too long-term (longer than 8 months), people will place their initial forecasts and never think about it again.
  • Loud and Often: There is nothing better than being right. When you have questions where the crowd has accurately predicted something, trumpet it as loud as possible. Suddenly the non-believers may start to become believers.
  • Ongoing Communication: The second best thing to your users participating is reading about the crowdsourced forecasts. Project managers who have set up blogs to discuss the project on a regular basis have been highly successful at keeping people motivated to participate. A blog creates a natural community around crowdsourced forecasts for people to have an additional outlet to discuss. If there is no blogging allowed or the software is not available, consider doing a simple weekly email update to all the eligible participants. Write it as a newsletter to keep it interesting and readable. Invite others to publish question updates as well, either as a community-driven blog or via email.
  • Widgets, Widgets Everywhere: Internally, you could use our REST API to build your own widgets. These widgets should be placed all over Intranets, in emails, at the end of articles, etc. all in an effort to drive mindshare towards the crowdsourced forecasts.
  • Introducing New Questions: Because there are potential “first mover” advantages for newly introduced questions, more astute (note: your most active) forecasters will monitor the creation of new markets closely. New questions also incent less active participants to return to the site because there is a greater likelihood they will find something of interest. Finally, adding new questions, like regularly updating the content on a web site, simply makes it more “sticky” and gives the impression the site is active. 
  • Interesting Insights: We provides a series of reports (as csv files) to give you insight in to what's happening on the site. Could you marry this with demographic information you know about your participants to create new interesting insights about a group of people? Has someone shown particularly interesting forecasting patterns? Is there a question where the conventional wisdom says one thing, the crowd forecast is saying another? Examples such as these should be highlighted as often as possible.
  • Profile/Interview Your Users: Do you ever wonder what makes the #1 person tick? Why do they participate so much? Who are they? People love to learn more about who is behind the pseudonyms.
  • Champions: Before launching your forecasting site make sure you have "champions" inside and/or outside the organization who are the public face of the effort in addition to yourself. Ideally this would be someone very senior or a widely known thought leader whom people typically respect. Have these people comment on the project a couple times a month by blogging about it or sending out emails to traders.
  • Cash Incentives: We don’t think cash incentives are necessary to drive participation and gain accurate forecasting. However if you do decide to offer cash incentives there are some methods we’ve seen work better than others. Typically the first reaction is to offer a reward to the top forecasters across a series of questions, or "challenge", or sitewide. You may want to reward participants by accuracy points, e.g., select your top 5 accuracy leaders each month.

    Note: If you've activated Geek Mode for your site, you might wonder if you can tie cash incentives to the virtual currency in Forecasts. However, because of how the currency works (there are potentially an infinite amount), it would be very difficult to tie cash directly to the Forecasts currency. 
  • Multiple Incentives: Consider offering multiple incentives, some strictly based on performance on the site (accuracy points), others based on simply participating. For example, you could offer rewards for performance in each individual question. You could also perform lotteries among people who have left substantive comments or been upvoted or to those who have created and run their own questions. Finally, rewarding all participants in a question for making a forecast that was directionally correct are potentially the most satisfying, e.g. a Friday afternoon off or pizza party for all participants who participated in a question accurately forecasting an important sales number.
  • Soft Incentives: You should not underestimate the power of “soft incentives.” Typically your users have never had an opportunity to express themselves about business decisions, forecasts, etc. They’ve simply never been asked. For many people this is a powerful incentive itself. Also, once you’ve gotten people to participate initially, you should reinforce crowdsourced forecasts as a new way of working, and encourage people give their input regularly. If a boss or manager is invested in this, they will be too!
  • Integrate Forecasting Results in to your Business Processes: Talk about the results at your meetings, use the reports and API to extract interesting data from the forecasting results, begin presenting the crowd probabilities alongside your "official forecasts," etc. We have a client who is the COO of the company - he talks about the results of the crowdsourced forecasts at weekly status meetings; a great way to keep people's interest.
  • Run Provocative Questions: You don't have to run markets like "Will the CEO be fired?" but don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. Crowdsourced forecasting is a great risk mitigation tool. If you know some troubling information early, you can fix it before it becomes a bigger problem.
  • Run Non-Business "Fun" Questions: This has been especially helpful when people are first starting out. Supplement the business questions on your site with newsworthy non-business related questions that everyone can relate to. Something about a TV show or a sporting event. That way people will feel much less "risk" when they forecast for the first time and will learn how to get around in the application without it seeming so serious. You should keep these kinds of questions going throughout the project, to keep people interested.
  • Let People Create Their Own Questions: As the administrator, you have complete control over what gets published on the site. Let people create their own questions and see what happens. Most assume you'll just get "junk" or questions that are too "controversial" to be published, but why not wait until that happens before shutting down the option for people to create their own. You may find this grassroots approach actually creates a more robust set of questions than if you are just creating them yourself. In many of our client instances, site traffic rose dramatically after people were able to create their own questions.
  • Exclusive Access as Incentive: One final idea for providing incentive is to create two separate sites – one for the “general public” or “general employees” and another for those who have performed particularly well over a period of time in individual questions. For example, you may have 10,000 employees participating in the “general” site. Every 3 months, you invite 1,000 of those employees to participate in the “exclusive” site. This potentially is the only place in corporate operations where title means nothing, access is gained by exhibiting your forecasting prowess. And you don’t get to rest on your laurels once you make it to the “exclusive” site; you have to perform at a certain level or your access is revoked and others from the general marketplace take your place. Note: This can only happen if your general site is highly active, and you're generating and resolving questions within short timeframes to judge accuracy. 

More questions? Go back to the Support page or contact us.