Time and money are two sides of the same coin.
- Why do timeshare salespeople give so many freebies to get 90 minutes of your time? Because they know their chances of converting you to buy a condo on the beach goes way up with that much time. You’re participating in their process.
- When I managed Dell.com consumer site, I added an interactive financing calculator to a page and saw abandonment drop in half? Why? Visitors were participating in something.
- After you purchase something on Café Press you are asked to forward an invitation to that store to five friends. That works because people were engaged in purchase participation.
- Freemium models for web apps and viral loops work because participation is required.
Each of these examples demonstrate the power of participation. Once a person engages with something in a participatory way, they are more likely to engage again. And if you can get someone to participate by contributing content, you can use that content to pull others in to participation. And so the cycle continues.
This was the gist of a conversation I had with Bazaarvoice advisor and new media visionary Ze Frank in a ‘hole in the wall’ Thai restaurant in New York several months ago. Several discussions and emails later, we had the beginning of a whitepaper on a new concept we call “Participation Chains.” We are talking about all the ways we interact – or want to interact – with brands, and how these interactions build relationships over time.
In short, the more brands start conversations with consumers, the more everyone can win. Ze and I outline a variety of ways to keep interaction going, and we outline the details of building an effective participation chain strategy.