Gamification of Startups – the Petal Model

petal model

I’ve explained my petal model of social engagement several times over the last  8 months or so, but following a couple of workshops at Techhub I’ve now seen it applied in the wild by a startup. It’s  this moderate usage by others that I think warrants its inclusion in this blog about gamification.

” We had a long brainstorm session, based on the petal model. Quick wins going live this week” - Andrus Purde, Flattr.

To recap, the petal model breaks down four “loops” that good social games include and explains them as petals of a flower. The implication being that you can have many petals for a bigger and better flower.

Gamification is about applying game mechanics to non-games and as such startups are a prime candidate.

The loops are:

  1. The active viral loop – “a reason to share / virality” – how and why a user requests a friend to join them in using the application
  2. The passive viral loop – “network effects” –  the benefit to a user of having friends that also use the application.
  3. The positive daily loop – “reward schedules” –  the benefit to be gained of returning to the application each day
  4. The negative daily loop – “loss aversion” – what the user loses if they don’t return to the application each day.

When explaining the model it is also worth highlighting the discovery stem. In particular for startups this is (I would argue) 70% of the problem – getting those vital first users to your product or service in the first place. For this advertising, PR and SEO are all excellent techniques!

” I love the Petal Model – I’ve been ruminating on it for the last hour or so and I think that it’s a very powerful schema for assessing customer engagement mechanics.” - Jon Cornwell, Newsflare

Following a workshop on the Petal Model at TechHub in London on 9 June 2011 one of the startups there, made an immediate change to their application.

Following the workshop they tweaked their user journey to call the user to share their ‘flattr’ (a type of paid like button) with their social graph.

Andrus Purde, from Flattr, said “We had a long brainstorm session, based on the petal model. Quick wins going live this week. Put simply, we added viral features to increase virality of the product. Thanks again for the workshop and sharing the model.”

A “before and after” screenshot of how Flattr have changed their software is shown below (click to enlarge):

Flattr has added a 'share this' flattr active viral loop to their app (1 - old functionality, 2- how it now works following the workshop)

Flattr has added a 'share this' flattr active viral loop to their app (1 - old functionality, 2- how it now works following the workshop)

I’ve listed below a few examples of the petal stem and loops that hopefully explain further:

Discovery Stem

  • Freshbooks uses Google Adwords to attract potential customers of their invoicing software
  • Many companies use SEO to be top of the natural search results for search terms describing their products
Active Viral Loop
  • Players can create stronger gangs in Mafia Wars by recruiting friends to be part of their gang
  • Facebook encourages you to “invite your friends to join you on Facebook”
  • FrontierVille lets you improve your homestead by asking friends to send you gifts to make it better
Passive Viral Loop

  • Happy Island shows you what your friends’ islands look like
  • Foursquare shows you badges that friends have earned, encouraging you to try to outpace them.
Positive Daily Loop
  • FarmVille only lets you harvest crops that you planted a few days ago and exchange them for coins
  • Moshi Monsters lets you gain ‘moshlings’ by returning once your seeds have grown.
  • Points are awarded each day you acknowledge an outstanding task in Pailz.com
Negative Daily Loop
  • In TapFish your acquarium fish die if you don’t return to feed them once a day
  • Pets get dirty if they aren’t cleaned often in Pet Society

 

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