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How do you engage your customers? Keep them caring and connected?

Engagement involves using a range of techniques—from gamification and reputation systems, to crypto economics and incentive prizes—to keep your customers and Community interested, involved, and increasingly committed to your Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP).

As an entrepreneur, your ability to turn “Crowd” into “loyal Community/customers” is everything. And the most powerful way to achieve that is Engagement, the next attribute in the Exponential Organizations (ExO) model, and the focus of today’s blog.

Today we’ll look at two of those techniques (incentive prizes and gamification), give you a framework you can use to increase Engagement, and offer a few tips to help you get started.

We’ll begin with an example of Engagement that’s dear to my heart: the story of XPRIZE.

Let’s dive in…

NOTE: Understanding how to turn your business into an ExO and increase your growth and impact is a key component of my year-round Abundance360 leadership program.


The Power of Incentive Competitions: XPRIZE

The XPRIZE Foundation is a global platform for implementing large-scale incentive competitions to drive massive Engagement and solve grand challenges.

That concept isn’t new. Public competitions have been around for a long time. The development of ship chronometers was spurred by an 18th-century competition to create clocks that worked accurately on a rocking ship in order to determine longitude.

Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927 in pursuit of the $25,000 Orteig prize for the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris. In fact, I was inspired to create the XPRIZE Foundation after reading about the Orteig Prize and Lindbergh’s flight.

Thanks to the popularity of XPRIZE, incentive competitions are back in the news. This Engagement technique is typically used to identify promising innovators in the undifferentiated Crowd and move them into a targeted Community. Competitions are then used to challenge, leverage, and motivate that Community in order to solicit radical, potentially breakthrough ideas.

XPRIZE started with my love of space and my desire to create commercially viable human spaceflight capability. I was certain that some engineer or entrepreneur in the global aviation and space Crowd was capable of building a private spaceship. In 1996, under the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, I announced a $10 million purse for the first non-government organization able to build a reusable spaceship that could successfully carry three adults at least 100 km into space and repeat the flight again within two weeks. The purse was later funded by the Ansari family and rebranded the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE.

On September 29th and October 4th of 2004, a vehicle called SpaceshipOne, built by famed aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and backed by Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Paul Allen, made two consecutive flights to win the prize.

The winning technology was then licensed by Sir Richard Branson, who created the spaceflight company Virgin Galactic.

Perhaps the most important benefit of an incentive competition is that it creates an ecosystem of competing teams. For example, in April 2021 XPRIZE launched its largest prize to date: a $100 million purse for “gigaton carbon removal,” funded by Elon Musk. More than 1,100 teams registered to compete.

Two key aspects of incentive prizes are worth keeping in mind:

1. When XPRIZE puts up an incentive prize, its Community of competitors typically spends between 10 and 20 times that amount on research and development. Therefore, a $10 million spaceflight XPRIZE drove initially $100 million spent cumulatively by all the teams, and birthed a huge tourism launch industry that is approaching a trillion-dollar mark.

2. Incentive prizes deliver innovation from the most unlikely sources. For example, the second-place team in the $3 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XPRIZE was made up of a dentist and a tattoo artist (the former got a tattoo from the latter!), who tested their solution in a swimming pool.

To date, over its 29-year history, the XPRIZE Foundation has launched more than $300 million in prize purses, ranging in size from $2 million to $100 million.

Ask yourself: How can I use an incentive prize to tap into the most brilliant innovators in the connected world and convert my Crowd into my Community?

But incentive competitions aren’t the only way to Engage your Community and customers…


Gamification: Octalysis & Case Studies

The previous decade has seen an extraordinary rise in online games.

Insider Intelligence (previously called eMarketer), in its US Gaming Ecosystem 2021 report, reports that more than 2.8 billion people play online games worldwide. In the US alone, 178 million people—or 53% of the total population—are gamers, and most play for more than an hour each day.

Gamification is emerging as the leading Engagement method for the next decade of ExOs, which will gamify a myriad of real-world situations and frameworks.

The Octalysis Framework



This is the best and most comprehensive gamification and Engagement framework I’ve seen. 


The Octalysis Framework, created by Yu-kai Chou, is a human-focused engagement and gamification design framework that is designed to analyze and improve user engagement in various products, services, and experiences by applying the principles of game design. The term “Octalysis” is derived from the eight core drives that motivate human behavior, which are represented as an octagon. These 8 core drives are: 


1. Epic Meaning and Calling: People are motivated when they feel they are part of something greater than themselves or when they believe they are contributing to a larger cause.

2. Development and Accomplishment: Users are driven by the sense of progress, growth, and achievement they experience while engaging with a product or service.

3. Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback: People are motivated when they have the freedom to create, experiment, and see the results of their actions.

4. Ownership and Possession: Users become more engaged when they feel a sense of ownership and control over something, whether it’s tangible or intangible.

5. Social Influence and Relatedness: Human beings are social creatures, and they are motivated by interactions, relationships, and competition with others.

6. Scarcity and Impatience: People often desire things more when they are limited, exclusive, or hard to obtain.

7. Unpredictability and Curiosity: The element of surprise and the desire to uncover the unknown can drive engagement and keep users coming back.

8. Loss and Avoidance: People are motivated to avoid negative outcomes, such as losing progress, status, or possessions.

More than a billion users globally touch products designed with Octalysis. Properly used, it has been shown to increase ROI, employee motivation, product design, and—importantly—Engagement.


Here are 3 examples: 

  • Reddit. This giant social, news aggregation, and discussion site uses its members to vote up or down on submitted content. It’s the classic example of reciprocity Engagement: if you share content, you can access content, which drives Engagement and grows community and crowd. Reciprocity scales Engagement—and, therefore, your business model. Reddit boasts more than 1.5 billion monthly users.

  • Duolingo. This app offers 98 language courses that teach 39 different languages. With a deeply embedded Community Engagement structure, Duolingo has more than 500 million total users and about 40 million monthly active users, representing every country in the world.

  • iHeart Media. As the world’s largest audio company (radio and podcasts), iHeart reaches hundreds of millions of consumers monthly. At their physical concerts, fans scan QR codes to get “virtual swag bags” filled with unique, dynamic digital objects. Advertisers build creative campaigns, dropping branded, gamified objects directly into fans’ Vatom wallets, resulting in unprecedented rates of participation and data collection.


Tips to Increase Your Engagement

Here are 5 ideas to help you get started with Engagement:

1. Train up in Octalysis: To get started with Engagement, it is crucial to first understand the Octalysis framework, a comprehensive model for analyzing and designing engaging experiences. Train key team members in this methodology to ensure a shared understanding and effective implementation of Engagement strategies. 

2. Run an Internal Incentive Prize: Running a contest within your organization can be a valuable approach to generate ideas and insights regarding the types of Community Engagement that have the potential to unlock the most value. Encourage employees to contribute their ideas, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration. 

3. Apply Gamification: Once the top ideas have been identified, consider gamifying them to enhance Engagement and participation. Applying game mechanics and elements can make the Engagement experience more interactive, motivating, and rewarding for Community members, thus increasing their level of involvement.

4. Launch a Community-based Incentive Prize: To attract and amplify Community Engagement, launch an incentive prize within the broader Crowd. By offering rewards or recognition to individuals who actively participate and contribute to the Community, you can incentivize and cultivate a vibrant and engaged user base. 

5. NFT Project: In addition to traditional Engagement strategies, consider exploring the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and launching an NFT project tailored for your most active users. NFTs can provide a unique and exclusive digital asset or experience to participants, creating a sense of ownership and exclusivity, thereby further deepening their Engagement and loyalty.


Why This Matters

Earlier in this ExO blog series, we looked at Community and Crowd, AI and Algorithms, Leverage and Shared Assets—all key attributes for a successful Exponential Organization. 

But Engagement is the “glue”—the secret sauce—that holds these attributes together. It’s what allows an ExO to grow with unprecedented speed. 

In our next blog, we’ll dive into the internal-facing attributes of the ExO model, represented by the acronym IDEAS, beginning with Interfaces.

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Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis


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