Samsung recently launched an ambitious new game layer called Samsung Nation BETA. Samsung Nation lives on Samsung.com, and uses game mechanics to reward onsite visitor behavior, like reading articles, registering products, reviewing products, and submitting questions or answers to Q&A. To get a behind the scenes look at the project, I spoke to Esteban Contreras, Social Media Manager for Samsung USA.
What value does Samsung see in adding a game layer to its site? What are your goals with the program and what does success look like?
Our goal is to show our customers, especially our biggest fans, that we are grateful for their loyalty. We want to recognize them and we want to enhance the overall experience that we provide on Samsung.com.
Success will ultimately be determined by increased engagement throughout our web site. By engagement I am talking about user generated content like comments and reviews, as well as interactions with Samsung content and increased sharing to social networks.
How will you combat the possibility of “badge fatigue” among site visitors?
We hope to primarily reward those who are already active on our website. Points, levels, trophies, badges and other game mechanics will be used to recognize and reward enthusiasts, and we will also continue to create and curate great content on Samsung.com. Today, you can get almost 70 badges on Samsung Nation. We plan on evolving Samsung Nation over time based on how our customers interact in the community. In addition, we will give away exciting products every month. Our early adopters will have an opportunity to win a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and each month, Samsung Nation members will have an opportunity to unlock a featured badge to automatically be entered into a sweepstakes.
Implementing a site-wide program like this surely requires a lot of cross-functional collaboration. Which teams at Samsung are working together to make this happen?
Our North America HQ Digital Marketing team, which also manages Samsung.com, led this effort and we collaborate with the various divisions and product teams to make Samsung.com the best website for all things Samsung.
Is there a demographic segment of visitors that you expect to be particularly responsive to your game layer?
We know that people behave different online. We think that those who would see themselves as early adopters, socializers, and collectors will be more likely to be interested in participating. Above all, we believe our fans will be most interested in joining and experiencing Samsung Nation.
Are you keeping the paths to badges and rewards out of view and edging toward serendipity, or are you trying to motivate behavior by making the paths to achievements very clear? Or is there a way to balance the two?
We are doing both. There are clues embedded in our widgets about how to unlock certain badges. Some badges will come as a surprise, perhaps simply by exploring certain pages or doing so at certain times and days. There must be a balance if we want to make sure the experience is fun.
Because they are triggered by very specific, ostensibly rarer sets of conditions being met, the “advanced behaviors”—like visiting the site between midnight and 4am, or visiting and interacting with products in the 3D category—seem like they would have a lower probability of being activated than other badges. Is this by design? Should rare rewards be reserved for rare behaviors?
Yes. Some people will be inclined to collecting all badges while others will simply come to Samsung.com for specific purposes and unlock a badge or two. We hope that they will be more interested in discovering other parts of the site as they see what others are doing and unlocking. Collecting a badge in the middle of the night simply for spending some time with us is a way for us to say thank you.
How important is it to be “sentiment agnostic,” and reward participation regardless of sentiment expressed toward your brand or products, like giving badges to visitors that give low star ratings or negative reviews?
This is very important. Some of our biggest fans are also our biggest critics. Customers expect much from us and we do our best to deliver the value they deserve. We apply this customer-centric thinking to Samsung.com and Samsung Nation. For example, we won’t reward you for submitting a 5-star review, but we will reward you for submitting any kind of product review. We want to make our site more engaging and that requires us to allow customers to speak their minds. In the long-term, we hope to turn negative sentiment into positive sentiment through the experiences we deliver at all consumer touchpoints.