How To Encourage Participation, Voting and Improve BizSugar!

So, I’m assuming that my last post on BizSugar, Why I’ve Quit Using BizSugar: A Product Review, turned some heads, shook things up, ruffled many feathers and raised some ire.

It was to be my last post on BizSugar. Yet I feel that I have some more things to say. So this will be my last post.

Voting among members on BizSugar is hitting a low. Motivation and morale appear to be sinking. Upwards of 90% of voting is now being done by staff. Articles of non-participants are being voted up to “Hot Topics” by staff. And, I believe, it is enabling. Enabling people who don’t participate to say “Hey…if I just post articles and log out I can still win on BizSugar.” It is a bad precedent and one which does nothing to encourage participation.

Let’s take a look at “T.”

He is a member of BizSugar. He has never answered any of the scores of comments left on his posts. He has never commented on others’ posts. He has never voted for any member other than those with whom he is friends. Yet almost every one of his posts is “voted up” by staff. It hardly encourages “T” to participate. Rather, it enables and encourages him not to. There are many “Ts” on BizSugar. One, we’ll call him “R,” has posted 180 articles on BizSugar. And he has voted exactly 180 times…all for his own articles. NEVER even once for anybody else. Yet he gets staff votes often and frequently hits the “HT” page. “R” has learned that non-participation has great rewards!

If BizSugar is to reach its full potential, I believe there are things that can and should be done. I’m no Marketing guru. But I have some ideas. I will not be around in the future to witnesss whether they are implemented, but something needs to be done!

1) STOP enabling “slackers.”

2) Draw up new guidelines that every member needs to sign off on in order to continue to participate. Spell it out: “This is a community and here is what we need from you as a member…we no longer encourage participation, we demand it”

3) Encourage participation!

4) BizSugar contains a “Karma” score for each member. It is a “feel good” score for frequency of voting and commenting. Forget “Karma!” Forget feeling good. Make a new criterion for scoring. If you don’t reach the level of participation for a minimal Karma score, your stories can’t become “Hot Topics” any more no matter how many votes you receive.

5) Create a minimum number of articles that each person needs to vote for in order to post their next article. And monitor the voting to ensure that people are not just voting on articles en-masse, hitting the ‘vote’ button every three seconds.

6) Create a minimum number of comments that each voter must make in order to continue posting. And not just saying things like “Great article!”

7) Create a minimum number of re-Tweets that each member needs to make.

8) Tweet messages to vote on BizSugar on a very regular basis!

9) Create a place on the front page which offers free advertising for the most active participants. Perhaps the top 5 each month can have advertising avatars which lead to and promote their business websites. That will motivate!

10) Contests! Prizes! For free advertising for winners. Invite winners onto podcasts. Write glowing articles about the winners promoting them and their businesses! Tweet the articles of the most active.

11) Roll out the welcome mat for new members. Let them know what they need to do and embrace them into the community.

12) Stop punishing people for nurturing large followings on the site. Holding back votes in an effort to curb success does not work! It has and does create very bad feelings!

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I’m no genius. These are all common sense ideas. Sure at first some of them will elicit a big groan from members. “Jeez…I have to participate?!” But very quickly when they take into consideration the value that BizSugar presents to them, they will change their minds.

Up until now the solution has been to post articles about making BizSugar a community and encouraging participation. While very good articles, they DON’T work for one very simple reason: The ones who read them are already active participants. The “Hit and Run” submitters can’t be bothered to read them. The effect = NONE!

I hope that for the future of BizSugar they will be considered.

By learning the tough lesson that BizSugar is a community and not just a place to endlessly promote themselves and their businesses I believe that things can change very quickly!

I know, I’m a horrible person because of my last post. But I am a horrible person who sees a great site slipping away. It’s time for the sake of future members to make some very difficult choices and decisions.

Yonatan Maisel

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Image Credits: Graph: bestbni.com; Profile Head: britishinline.co.uk; Suggestion Box: lincoln.edu; Hammer: biojobblog.com

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