The above video is an instructional video for our site, MetroSoiree, on how to use the "Videos" page

Brand activists aren't active because of their passion for a brand. In the end, they are in the game because of what they personally have to gain from that interaction. With that in mind, many companies use rewards for their loyal customers using points-based systems. Just look at your typical credit card rewards program, employee incentive programs or how SCVNGR uses game mechanics . You do some sort of activity or repetitively practice some sort of behavior and are rewarded accordingly.

I worked in a group that developed a social network that used a points-based reward system to engage its users. It had a lot of potential. Too bad it was only a school project in 2008 and we didn't pursue MetroSoiree as a serious business venture.

MetroSoiree: "The only social network that rewards you for being a member."

It started as an assignment in one of my WKU Advertising courses. Social networks were just starting to catch on and we were charged with coming up with our own niched social network. We had to come up with a detailed business plan for the network and even have a working demo. Our work would ultimately be submitted to the Knight News Challenge to hopefully receive funding. From there, our group gave birth to MetroSoiree, a social network targeted at young professionals in the greater Nashville area (since Music City was the closest metro area to Bowling Green, KY).

Most groups built there model sites using Ning.com as a platform. We thought that was cheap. One in our group had a best friend who was a web designer looking for ways to add to his portfolio. With an outside web developer and a gifted designer in our group, we had the tools necessary to build a fully functional social network.

So what was MetroSoiree?

It was a social network that rewarded its participants for doing tasks outside of the internet. We would let businesses leverage our traffic to host deals. Our "icon" was a yellow briefcase, which was an item people had to find on their nights out on the town in Nashville. If they found the yellow briefcase, they had the opportunity to earn more points from coupons and codes within the briefcase. How did one know where the yellow briefcase was? They had to go on the site and find out where it was going to be on a given weekend.

Points were not only earned from obtaining a coupon code from finding the yellow briefcase (a pre-geolocation version of checking in). You also earned points from activities on the site. Users could upload videos of their nights out on the town, tips for people new to the city, and even participating in Q&A on discussion boards. Those points would then be redeemed for items in an online store, supplied by brand sponsors.

The site was basically like Groupon, SCVNGR and Facebook rolled up into one hybrid experience. In a month's time, we gathered around 100 members and made $60 off of an AdWords account (which is how we compensated our web developer). We even laid out future plans to roll out similar sites for other metro areas as it grew.

Unfortunately we didn't receive grant funding. The idea was a few years ahead of its time without the solid mobile technology to enhance the potential user experience. I wonder how that result would change today?

NOTE: The idea for the Yellow Briefcase came from the fact that our video camera came in a yellow case. We had to make a video teaser for our idea before working on it. We just shot random footage and then the idea came from creating this video, believe it or not. It's four minutes of your life you'll never get back.

And before you get any ideas, we did get the MetroSoiree idea copyrighted and still own the URL, so don't get any funny ideas.

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