It started with an In Mail via LinkedIn from a very nice lady called Molly O’Hare telling me all about their new website, G2Crowd.com.
Saw this discussion in the Sage CRM group, and seems like you have a lot of knowledge to share about CRM. My company is building a site for users to review business technology products and share their experiences with different solutions and vendors. Our idea is that with unbiased feedback from real users, buyers will be more empowered to make the right decisions for their business needs.
Well, I’m a sucker for flattery and the Irish (OK, so Molly is from the US, but was there ever a more Irish name? Perhaps Niamh O’Mahoney, but this is missing the point) so I took a look at the website to see what it was all about. Importantly, Molly asked for my feedback on the site, so my intention was to check it out and give my honest opinion.
Connected through LinkedIn
Some people do not like to sign up to everything using their LinkedIn or Facebook profile. I happen to be one of those people. I just don’t want people taking a look at stuff I consider personal, or necessarily have access to that type of information. I want to be in control of that, so to be forced to use LinkedIn without an alternative sign up option irks me. I understand that responses are probably easier to validate if there is a reputation behind them, and you can leave contributions anonymously if you wish, but in principle, I wish there was an alternative option.
Searching for products to review is a piece of cake: simply click on Products and either search or browse for the product you wish to critique. Recognising the logo is the intuitive way to identify those products you are able to review. Helpfully, there are banners where there are incentives to review, such as being the first to review, or a reward for doing so. My favourite here is the the Reviews Wanted option. This makes it simple to just navigate to a product that the site wants to increase (or start) reviews for, and allows you to start doing so straight away.
Why does my dictionary not yet recognise this word? It’s becoming de rigeur for all websites, (even some applications,) to gamify their content to encourage usage. I love it as a concept and, truthfully, it motivated me to conduct more reviews for the site. There are various points awarded for certain types of action:
Attributed Review +15 points
Anonymous Review +10 points
Validated Review +20 points
Features Review +5 points
Peer marks you as helpful +3 points
Peer marks you as unhelpful -1 point
Rating +1 point
Comment +2 points
Refer a Friend +15 points
There are more points – just check the website for details. Clearly you should get a greater number of points for actually reviewing a product than merely rating it; after all, someone has made the effort to add their thoughts and ideas to the site. I also agree that a validated review (where you can upload a screenshot to prove you use the system) should carry more. However, I could make up a load of reviews based on what I find on the net, so for me, the validated reviews should carry greater weight and be rewarded with more points. Similarly, it is easy to just rate products based on a loose opinion. I have certain views about SAP because I work for a company that does not provide it and may consider it ‘the enemy’ (incidentally, they don’t necessarily, I’m arguing the point).
Contests are provided to encourage users of the site to offer up more reviews and contribute to discussions. I decided that I would go for the CRM Contributor contest as this is clearly the area I know most about. It soon seemed to me that it would be very difficult to win the top prize of an iPad Mini for being in the top 5 contributor charts for this category (only points gained within this category would count towards the contest). Plus, I was concerned that the only way you could get to be a top 5 contributor was to be an industry specialist, which seemed contrary to the type of person I thought G2 Crowd were after to review products (i.e. independently). I contacted Matt Gorniak, Co-Founder of G2 Crowd, who then helped explain their ideas on how this would be possible. Essentially, striking up a dialogue with other users was a good way to gain points. This I did. It was certainly true that my score improved. However, and the types of comments I saw from other ‘competitors’ seemed to demonstrate this, there ensues a very broken dialogue consisting of questions that sometimes pose little relevance to the original review, or are just ‘I agree’. Each one of these gains valuable points. Sure, there is the option to mark comments as unhelpful, but I suspect no one wished to do that whilst the top 5 were clearly moving further away from the other competitors. In essence, the nature of the reward I think encouraged certain behaviours.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to stay in the Top 5 and am grateful to have received my iPad Mini as a result. Each review I made was based on my real experiences with the product and a number of my reviews were validated with proof of my usage. Did I ever add a comment to get the points? Yes, I did. Did everyone else? Definitely.
Interestingly, since winning my prize, the criteria for winning an iPad Mini has been raised and this seems sensible to me. As with all ‘beta’ sites (as that it what it still states on the website) tweaks will be made to ensure the site runs smoothly and, of course, the more users there are, the easier it will become to gain valid reviews from a broader range of people.
I enjoyed participating in the site and intend to continue to do so. There are other crowd-sourcing sites around, and there are similarities and differences between them all. Gamification is here to stay so the awarding of points is a suitable incentive. Prizes need to be awarded for quality as well as quantity. What is very encouraging is the interaction with the site’s founders and administrators. They seem to me to be genuinely interested in feedback, so why not give it a go – you must have an opinion. Obviously I’d like you to use my referral code so I get the points!