If someone contributes to an online recommendation or experience platform, he can have several reasons for this (Bateman et al., 2011). For example, you could help others with your recommendation, you want to use recommendations and therefore have to contribute yourself, or you could get paid or rewarded for your contributions.
A website that combines all theses reasons is Wereldsupporter.nl. This website was launched by the volunteering/travelling company JoHo, because they noticed that many people who would like to be volunteers abroad, lacked some information. Wereldsupporter brings young volunteers together to share experiences and to motivate others to go volunteering as well. Also some specific projects can be recommended by word of mouth from experienced volunteers. The platform is very broad and offers many tools, such as blogs from volunteers, a shop where you can donate your used travel supplies, sharing of international recipes and culture, discussion fora, picture contests and more.
But what motivates people to contribute? One could argue that people who are willing to do volunteering work for others, might also be willing to share their experiences with others, with the motivation to help them. But still, people could forget sharing, or share their experiences on different websites. To keep users active on a regular basis, Worldsupporter offers two different reward systems.
In the first place, the website has got a reward system for active users. As a user you could win money for the best blogs, media exposure for your own song or a column in JoHo’s magazine for the best projects. An even greater award is that you can earn money for volunteering directly (Up to 1200 euro) if you promise to contribute for the next 12 months. In other words: the company will subsidize your journey, if you spread the word of volunteering.
As money is one of the biggest motivators for human behavior (Keller & Lane, 2012), it is expected that this type of rewarding works very well. However, even with all 3 motivations to contribute, the website is not used excessively. The website is full of potential, offers money, addresses the wish to volunteer and still it didn’t become a hype. Why?
There can be a thousand reasons why the website isn’t as popular as it could be, but one solution is offered by Goes et al. (2014). Their research showed that as users become more popular, they produce more reviews and more objective reviews. Maybe, if people were made aware of their readers, for example by showing how much readers they have, or by enabling readers to subscribe to their profile, Worldsupporter could become a more active website. How to support the world? Feel supported by your readers!
- Bateman, Patrick J., Peter H. Gray, and Brian S. Butler. “Research Note-The Impact of Community Commitment on Participation in Online Communities.” Information Systems Research 22.4 (2011).
- Paulo B. Goes, Mingfeng Lin, Ching-man Au Yeung “Popularity Effect” in User-Generated Content: Evidence from Online Product Reviews.” Information Systems Research (2014)
- Keller, P. K., & Lane, K. (2012). Framework for Marketing Management-5/E.