Step To Give: An Activity Tracker Engagement Experiment

In a couple previous posts  (here and here) I wrote about some ideas for how fitness trackers might leverage peer pressure and intrinsic rewards to keep people engaged with their shiny new wearable toy once the shiny new part wears off (no Misfit Shine pun intended!). In summary, the idea is to form small teams that work closely together on a step quest to meet a team goal. Meeting the team goal for the quest results in a donation being made to a prosocial cause.

To take these ideas a step further (sorry), I am going to run an experimental step quest with a team of about 10 Fitbit users called Step To Give.

Step To Give – The Mechanics and Rules


The Step Quest experiment is going to work like this:

  1. There will be a small group of 10 “volunteers” chosen by me. Most everyone in the group will be friends with at least one other person on the team, but the majority of the team members will be 2nd degree acquaintances that they have not met yet.  I may try to add at least one person who is new to everybody on the team including me.
  2. The Step Quest will last for 3 weeks.
  3. At the start of the Quest, each person on the team will commit to a number of steps they will walk per day for the entire 3 weeks. There will be no pressure to commit to a big number, but it does need to be a bit of a stretch – the idea here is of course to encourage yourself to get out and walk more!
  4. This will result in a team total goal for each week and a grand total for the Quest.
  5. Each player must pay $10 at the start to participate – the money to be deposited in my PayPal account.
  6. If the team meets the grand total goal at the end of the Quest, all of the money will be donated to a childhood obesity charity called Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  (now you see why I chose the fat boy image as the team’s avatar!!)
  7. If the team does not meet the goal, I will give all of the money to the first homeless person I run into in San Francisco – no conditions for what they will do with it. 
  8. Team members can work together to reach the weekly goals, if some miss their goal for a day, they can make it up by walking more on subsequent days, or others can walk over their goals. It is a team effort with individual accountability visible to the entire team.
  9. You can walk over your goal to help out the team, but there cannot be a team surplus of steps at the end of week 1 and 2 that carries over to weeks 2 and 3.  For example, if the individual commitments translate to 500k steps per week for the team and the team walks 550k steps in a week, only 500k will count toward the grand total. This keeps the pressure on for all 3 weeks.
  10. Except… at the end of the Quest, if the grand total of steps for the entire Quest – including any weekly surpluses – equals 150% or more of the goal, the ‘house’ (that means me) will add $50 to the total contribution.  Instead of $100, the donation will be $150.
  11. Each player has to have a Fitbit and they have to be willing to let everyone else on the team add them as a “Friend” in Fitbit, this way everyone can see each other’s daily progress and can use the Fitbit features to communicate with and encourage each other.
  12. This is not a hard requirement, but every team member should also install the GroupMe app on their phones – I will use this for twice daily team update announcements and I hope to see the team use this group text messaging tool for daily chatter to easily stay in contact with each other.
  13. Twice a day, at roughly 3pm and 8pm PDT, I will update a shared Google spreadsheet with individual and team progress for the day. The spreadsheet will show the progress for the day, week and full 3-weeks of the Quest.
  14. I will also send out texts on GroupMe when I update the totals to keep the feedback and chatter loop going.

Those are the rules. I’m putting the team together right now. If anyone that reads this wants to participate, let me know, I’ll consider it, I still have a few open spots.

I’ll write a post or 2 as we progress and will collect thorough feedback from all team members at the end – then we’ll tweak it and do it again!


About Mark Feinholz

Digital Health Product Manager. Inspired by technology to help us live happier and healthier lives.
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1 Response to Step To Give: An Activity Tracker Engagement Experiment

  1. Pingback: Step To Give Results: Fun, Engaging, and Rewarding | mark feinholz – software, healthcare & stuff

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