2014: the year shopping becomes a game

2014: the year shopping becomes a game

This is our third prediction for 2014. For our other predictions, click here.

The internet has always been about competition. I'm the Foursquare Mayor of this kebab shop. Her cute kittens blog just jumped up 1,000 places in the Alexa rankings. You have 934 unread emails in your inbox since the Christmas break (yeah, we know - painfully true). And these things have massively benefitted the bewildering growth of the 'net.

But the one aspect of the internet which hasn't - until now - profited by man's inherent need to compete is shopping. Don't get me wrong - we all like to brag about how we bought our house for £Xk less than the asking price, or how we jumped in and 'won' an auction seconds before it closed. But there's only ever one winner in those scenarios. Competition (until now) has never helped promote growth; it's never benefitted the masses.

That's going to change in 2014.

Up until now, when you said "Social-Commerce" people would think "f-commerce" and remember those terrible store-fronts bolted onto brands' Facebook Pages. Now, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to sell to a billion people on Facebook but, if you're going to distract people


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Five ways gamification can ignite your retail sales

Five ways gamification can transform retail

I have no idea how fruit machines work. Sure, I get the 'line up three bunches of cherries to win' classic, but the all-singing-all-blinking monstrosity that mocked me in the pub yesterday? Absolutely clueless. And yet, somehow, its combination of twinkly lights, bashy buttons and blippy noises had me chucking coins into it like owning money was going out of fashion.

That's because, as a species, we're far more likely to engage with something if there's an element of gaming involved. I'm sure there's an evolutionary imperative behind all this: if you took a chance on the lady monkey with the weirdy, opposable thumbs, there was a better chance your offspring would survive the great banana famine of 7,000,000 years BC. That kind of thing. Don't ask me, ask Richard Dawkins.

Anyway, we love gaming (and its sidekick, competition), and the introduction of these elements - conceptually known as 'gamification' - into any environment works wonders. The LinkedIn profile completeness bar is a famous example, and rightly so: users fill in more and more info to achieve a 100% complete 'score' and, in so doing, provide mountains more data back to LI, its users and, of course, its


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2013: the year shopping becomes a game

2013: The Year Shopping Becomes A Game

The internet has always been about competition. I'm the Foursquare Mayor of this kebab shop. Her cute kittens blog just jumped up 1,000 places in the Alexa rankings. 934 unread emails have arrived in your inbox over the weekend (yeah, we know - painfully true). And these things have massively benefitted the bewildering growth of the 'net.

But the one aspect of the internet which hasn't - until now - profited by man's inherent need to compete is shopping. Don't get me wrong - we all like to brag about how we bought our house for £Xk less than the asking price, or how we jumped in and 'won' an auction seconds before it closed. But there's only ever one winner in those scenarios. Competition (until now) has never helped promote growth; it's never benefitted the masses.

That's going to change in 2013.

Up until now, when you said "social commerce" people would think "f-commerce" and remember those terrible store-fronts bolted onto brands' Facebook Pages. Now, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to sell to a billion people on Facebook but, if you're going to distract people from chewing the fat (gnashing the gristle?) with their friends, you need to


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Competitions don't work. This week: Xbox

This Xbox Competition Won't Work

via Xbox UK

Last week, we told you how competitions had absolutely stopped working, and how they're often massively counter-productive.

This week, we thought we'd illustrate the point by looking at a current comp from Xbox UK. Now, we're absolutely not here to criticise Microsoft or the UK Xbox social media team, who do a wonderful job for a fantastic product (we're massive fans). We're just wondering how well this is going to work for them.

There's a few obvious glitches. The entry mechanism requires that you follow @XboxUK on Twitter, then retweet the following tweet from @XboxUK: “I want to win a sack of Xbox swag. #AnXboxChristmas”

Unfortunately, this doesn't all fit into a standard tweet, nor is there any room to tell people what the prizes are, so they're running with this:

Xbox tweet

Inevitably, people on Twitter are assuming they simply need to retweet, but the Ts & Cs (which no one ever looks at) say they also need to follow. That's going to alienate a lot of punters. And, speaking of those Ts & Cs, they're actually hosted on Facebook - along with a list of the prizes. Cue angry Facebook fans wondering...

Comment on Facebook

Erk. You see, you just can't please people with competitions. They'll share like crazy, they'll enter like mad. But they'll get grumpy if they don't


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No competition: why contests just aren't working anymore

Competitions don't work

We've all been there. You've got a budget of £X to bring in #Y new Facebook 'likes'... then some bright spark asks aloud: "What's the point of all these new 'likes'? These people are only 'liking' us to win a prize. Most of them are obsessive compers, sharing with other compers - none of whom would ever dream of spending real money with us."

That bright spark is a total git who's ruined everything... but he does have a point.

Back in the day, magazines ran competitions to add value for their readers - a brand would stump up a prize, get some promo, the readers would read about a product, get excited, maybe win a little something - everyone's a winner. In time, TV and radio picked up the baton and ran comps as programme-fillers and break-bumpers, generic 'content' to fill up shows. Then someone realised that premium-rate phonelines could earn production companies money on every entry and... well, the s* hit the fan.

With the explosion of social media, then, it seemed natural to extend competitions to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. And, for a time, that was fine. It helped brands engage with audiences and gave punters reasons to navigate through the social maze to their Pages. But now? Well, besides cute cat pics, competitions account for most of what you see on a lot of commercial social media pages. And the total value of these relentless giveaways? Devalued brands, devalued products, 'fanbases' who couldn't care less about the companies they're following and absolutely no real-terms value in return.

As for engaging genuine customers - well, at best, a competition postpones a purchase decision ("I would


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