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gamifying gratitude with xocial (soh-shul)

xocial uses our concept of Competitive Kindness to inspire gratitude.

Photo of Colin Duetta

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xocial (soh-shuhl) is a platform to inspire and measure social good. It is built on the universal appeal of online ratings, the proven link between gratitude and happiness, the power of the almighty algorithm and our hard-wired love of competition.  Brands, organizations and Individuals can use xocial to recognize day-to-day contributions in the classroom, workplace or community; create unique campaigns around a cause; and fund efforts that make a difference.  xocial gives everyone the power to make change by linking those who want to do good with those who want to support good—then measures the impact.

Idea Title

Competitive Kindness with xocial

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

xocial is anchored by 3 main components. A campaign engine built on a social network framework, and gamification. Campaigns can be made private to an organization. Deploying challenges designed to inspire gratitude coupled with the built-in measurement (social return on investment) provided by our gamining points make xocial a great tool to measure and inspire in the workplace. Challenges can be drafted to align with key learnings from your research. Start at the top, Thank the people who never get thanked, Aim for quality not quantity, take time for thanksgiving, and Celebrate the present are all great examples of outcomes that can be transcribed into challenges!

Who are you innovating for?

Our goal from the onset has been to provide a platform for inspiring gratitude and social good action. So the 'who' is everyone! But specifically we have long believed that xocial has a real application in building corporate culture. We think that by applying gamification to building culture you can not only strengthen your core team, but that your outward corporate persona will reflect those core values. And that can impact your sales, customer service, and talent acquisition!

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

We see xocial as a North American initiative at the onset. Primarily because the challenges and related culture will be a little 'closer to home'. With the proper partnerships, we think the idea of organizational 'templates' is a great start. While some additional development is required, we envision experts in the field assisting us in the development of template challenges that a corporate champion (HR, etc) can select from, including organizational size, to tailor their initiative.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

We're attempting to figure that one out! We're making some key partnerships with corporate culture consultants, where xocial is a great tool for implementing their plans, monitoring progress, and measuring results. Understanding who at different organizations would be interested/responsible for projects of this nature will inform where marketing initiatives should be focused. We're very interested in partnering with the academic side of the process to better understand how we can streamline xocial for optimal culture impact. While no system can replace the human touch, we feel that through these strategic partnerships we could offer learning, coaching, and corporate champion help.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

We've found through our pilots that an internal champion is critical to the success of these programs. Further to that, keeping the initiative fresh and top of mind is of paramount importance. While rewards can have some effect, intrinsic motivation is the golden target. With that in mind, we have started (and will continue) to build in motivational messaging, like weekly summaries, into the mobile app (just released) as well as other gamification elements like 'challenge of the week'.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

We recently concluded a pilot project we won to work with AARP on gamification impacts on increasing internal collaboration and innovation. This pilot has just ended. While we are not privy to the results of their assessment (yet), the process we followed involved: - defining the key project outcomes - pilot team interviews (key concerns, expectations, campaign input, roll definition, etc) - challenge drafting by our content writer (who happens to have a degree in cultural anthropology)

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

We're ready to rock! We're a young (but experienced), agile, emerging startup with a great story and a better mission. Are we experts in culture building... no. But gratitude has been our mission since the beginning, and we're great learners. We're excited at the opportunity and we believe, to our core, that the right team leading xocial's charge can make a real, measurable impact on corporate culture. Our next steps are refinement of our solution, guided by this team!

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Operating Concept / Startup: You have fulfilled the stages of testing, undertaken a full scale roll-out, and are currently operating this concept/idea as a business.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

In 2012, as we sat with our corporate lawyer (of all people) for our small digital agency, we mused if there was a way to quantify relationships. Could we measure the unspoken balance that we all try to keep with each other? We grabbed a napkin (available on request :)), and sketched Jonny's journey over the course of a day. How he earned, and lost, points based on his actions. We've come a long way since then, but it was Jonny's journey, years later, that led us to gamifying gratitude.

Tell us about yourself

Colin Duetta, CEO & co-founder, Co-owner of Human_Code & SPEDASSIST special education software William Courtright, Director of Business Development Director of Business Development at Income Store, an Inc. 5000 company Michael Salvatori, CXO & co-founder, Co-owner of Human_Code digital agency & SPEDASSIST Ken Bentham, Strategic Partnership Director, 10+ years of loyalty program experience

Where are you / your team located?

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

We are an incorporate company: IOU Concepts Inc.

Company / Organization Name


Tell us about your experience

As I mentioned previously, xocial was founded on the idea of gratitude! While many influences, late nights, and heated conversations started our mission it was this video that inspired me the most:

Please describe, in detail, how you will test and get feedback on your concept.

We're fresh off the refinement phase where we implemented some key learnings from our AARP pilot. I've attached some select pages from the pilot report (1 through 8). We knew we needed a mobile first experience, which we launched a month or so ago. Over the next week we are piloting a gratitude campaign with a local digital agency called Human_Code. We're starting with a baseline survey (attached as baseline survey.jpg). User experience map: Gratitude pilot complete! Lots to learn and improve on. You can see our results attached and the summary and details of the pilot delivery here:

Please describe specifically how you plan to scale your idea. What are the key next steps you will take, and how will those steps inform the evolution and growth of your concept?

Scaling of our idea will have 3 primary components. 1) strategic partnerships with thought leaders to define and deliver pre-defined, quickly deploy-able gratitude campaigns. xocial, at its core, is a measurement algorithm for social good action. As such it is a delivery mechanism for those with specific experience and knowledge in a given space. An example of our partnership initiatives is Organizational Culture Group ( where OCG will use xocial to deliver portions of their compassionate culture programs. 2) continued partner & user feedback on the usability and campaign champion support tools. 3) Marketing. Marketing. Marketing. xocial has partnered with Cone Communications (, a public relations and marketing agency based in Boston and New York specializing in corporate responsibility.

As we have seen in the Challenge, there is a tension between authentic expressions of gratitude and mandatory gratitude. How does your idea inspire truly authentic expressions of gratitude versus mandated ones?

The delivery of challenges in format where varying levels of mandatory vs. suggested challenges around authentic engagement can help. The challenges are meant to inspire and suggest. It is interesting to consider that the xocial platform may be most effective when used in concert with a course, presentation, or consultation with an organization.

Gratitude often thrives when opportunities for connection are created. How will your concept create new opportunities for human connection?

The creativity around challenge development is the opportunity to recommend, suggest, and challenge people to engage in new and authentic ways. We learned in our pilot that while technology can measure, enhance, and in a lot of cases deliver the prescribed outcome, additional resources, consultation and learning from the campaign owner (HR, etc) may be the best addition to our offering.

Who (specifically) will benefit from your concept, and how they will interact with it? What design considerations have you included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions? 

xocial is meant for deployment and engagement with the entire organization. For participants it gamifies the outcomes while the gamification elements provide a unique, measurable social return on investment metric. We feel the campaign owner would be an HR representative, management figure, or any employee interested in engaging their team in a new and inventive way that will amplify the gratitude at their organization.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

We would use the funds to support development of a template system extension to our platform that would allow workplace gratitude champions to quickly deploy a variety of campaigns. We would also consult with experts in the field of gratitude to offer additional learning resources for campaign champions and to advise, direct, and optimize the gratitude game templates. We would also enhance in-app notices & automated communications and tweek gamification elements.


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