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BeonpopBrazilian startup Beonpop is taking a refreshing view on how to measure social media influence. Already sporting 300,000 users globally, Beonpop currently harvests data from Facebook (connections to more social networks are planned) and calculates a timeline of POPs - Beonpop's own influencer score - that rank performance and influence. Based on Facebook-typical activities such as Likes, comments, and shares on a users posts the POPs are then used to rank the user against connections.

A newcomer like Beonpop is highly needed, after prominent competitors such as Klout have stalled with their features. Influencer scores have become a criteria for hiring decisions for social media positions, and may indicate to companies to better pay attention to certain influential individuals when there is a complaint about a service or product.

Unlike Klout, Beonpop's score is open ended and not limited to a value between 0 and 100. This fact has led in the past to Justin Bieber showing a higher Klout-score than president Obama, and required Klout to adjust their algorithm.

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The professional network LinkedIn uses a number of gamification design elements. In this article we take a look at them and describe how they work and what their purpose is.

Profile

To make the professional network valuable for all members, information about each member is needed. The more a user enters, the more valuable for the overall network. When new members sign up, they tend to fill out the most basic information only, hesitating how much information shall be shared. The profile completeness bar (Figure 1) gently nudges users to reach 100% by appealing to achieve a sense of completion. Note that while it is easy to quickly increase the percentage at the beginning, reaching one hundred percent completeion requires succeedingly more effort, appealing to the fun motivator of mastering a skill.

LinkedIn Profile Completeness Bar

 When interviewing LinkedIn-members, most of them will tell that because of the progress bar they had filled out more information, without knowing that they "are being gamified."

LinkedIn has introduced a new form of such a display, called profile strength. Depending on how much the circle is filled - like a cup with water - levels are assigned to it, in the example in Figure 2 it's the level All-Star.

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ResultsA large and dynamic professional community

German Software giant SAP launched its community 10 years ago and within a few years it grew to become the social network for SAP Professionals, the SAP Community Network (SCN). SCN is a platform where SAP employees share news and updates about products and technology, and a place where customers or consultants go first when they encounter a challenge in an SAP project. The community has proven helpful in discussion forums, to such an extent that certain people reach out to SCN before contacting SAP Support. In addition, SCN is the platform of choice for some of the most prolific and talented bloggers in the SAP ecosystem and many topic experts also share content such as step-by-step guides via documents.

A mission: Increase engagement

With 2 million unique visitors each month, SCN has reached organic growth a while ago already. The community became more social when the site moved to the Jive platform in March 2012: Members can now provide feedback such as likes, ratings, comments, etc and it helps the editorial team to curate content valued by the community on the site and in newsletters.  This type of feedback is considered engagement around content. A contributor is encouraged when positive feedback is given, and such feedback helps them grow a reputation as an SAP Professional.
Engagement indicators were still low several months after the platform change, and it became clear that a little encouragement was needed. That’s when gamification came into the picture.

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SCN ScoreMy recent blogs on the concept of a Gamification Score as a more accurate measure for employee evaluation Part I and Part II have stirred some controversy. The disbelief came from the fear that people are not going to be measured properly or extensively enough, considering all dimensions of an individual. Of course this is a criticism that is valid and that is true for every score (of which I have mentioned many in the two blogs).

But fact is that the situation today in evaluating employee performance is even worse: there is no objective data available. Any data that can help is better than nothing. And while we claim in the corporate world for being rational beings and do what's good for business, we actually don't. We may be getting some facts right on the business and measuring many things with some success, but measuring employees is one of the dark spots. We may live in the illusion that we do, and we may even spend billions of dollars on measures, but most of them are inherently inaccurate. That's a design-flaw from the beginning.

This is why a gamification score is so interesting for every manager and HR department. There is the data; timely, precise, detailed, on the skills.

A great example of such a score comes from the SAP Community Network (SCN), where every month 2 million professionals engage, blog, and help each other, and in return are rewarded with points and badges. The SCN points and the status are indications of the members skills and professionalism, as Carter Lusher from the analyst group Ovum describes in his latest Case Study: Gamification at SAP Community Network:

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You know you are in trouble as a private company, when even a state-owned corporation has higher customer satisfaction and employee engagement than you. And all this without spending a single Dollar or Euro more on wages or bonus (which we learned from Dan Pink and several studies would not work anyways).

I am speaking of the Danske Statsbaner DSB (Danish State Railways), a reliable, and old-school institution founded in 1885. We hear or talk (read "complain") about such public services mostly then, when something went wrong. Nobody is cheering, when the train is on time. But the outcry comes immediately, when trains are late – and in most cases not at fault of the company.

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ExpertsProfessional communities are a good example of where gamification can significantly increase user participation and engagement. SAP has the SAP Community Network, which applies heavily game-mechanics since 2006. Users receive through the recognition program points through blogging, answering questions in forums, contributing to the wiki pages or submitting whitepapers and documents.

The rewards come through multiple channels: automated from the system (blogging), from peers (the ones who asked a question), and the moderators or administration team (whitepapers, wiki edits…). Points are aggregated and for each expert area leaderboards are displayed. The leaderboards are time dependent, though life time points are being counted as well. There is also a company ranking, which even leads to companies adding SCN points to the KPIs for their employees for performance evaluation.

In addition the SCN uses badges to indicate SCN mentors, SAP employees, and top contributors (depending on their annual contribution points). Sometimes there are additional points rewarded depending on certain promotions, also overall community points are sometimes used to donated money towards a charity.

Top contributors who are on the leaderboards stated that almost all new leads that they get are coming through the SCN. Companies who need experts on their projects staff them by search for experts on the SCN. Hiring managers mentioned that whenever they get CVs from applicants, the ones who list SCN points in their resumés are being interviewed first. Through the SCN they can examine the quality of the contributions, as the track record for each user is publicly available. 

In the past for each point-milestone, T-shirts were sent out to the achieving members. But the community suggest a few years ago to get rid of the T-shirts and use that money for charities.

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