In partnership with MTV Networks
Temptd is a social platform on Facebook and iPhone that drives engagement in issues around obesity, activity, and weight loss, particularly among teens. Temptd provides access to a community of supporters, professional coaches, and trainers, so that people can get help in the moments when they need it the most.
Robert Fabricant, Josh Musick, David Chen, Amer Tadayon, Paul McDougall, JD Battles, Julian Gomez, Richard Gardner, Jason Lee, Mike Goos, Christian Walker
Jan Moorman: I liked the fact that it picked a medium for dealing with social interactions, to solve larger and societal problems. It's aesthetically stimulating, making me want to use it more than once. You take it with you - it's integrated into your lifestyle, where it can really make a personal and healthy difference. Todd Wilkens: They hit the perfect spot – it's facebook and the phone - the combination of the two feels right.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
With obesity and diabetes rates skyrocketing, particularly amongst kids, the US is drowning in healthcare costs related to lifestyle and personal behavior. Every major hospital, pharmaceutical company, and insurer offers tips and tools around weight loss. But, engagement with these tools is extremely low, even when consumers are offered direct incentives (such as reductions in their insurance premiums). Weight Watchers has shown that the most powerful incentives are social. And shows like Biggest Loser have demonstrated the enormous power of empathy, as people support each other in the daily struggle to lose weight and get healthy.
But behavior change is hard. It is the little decisions that we make each day that ultimately make the difference. The challenge is to provide people with support in the moments when they really need it, from a community of people that they trust. Mobile technologies and social networks offer a new set of opportunities to address this challenge.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The healthcare industry has launched a huge number of initiatives targeting weight loss and behavior change, many of which incorporate social components. To create an online social platform that will stick, we designed temptd to build on existing behavior, to provide timely feedback, to be fun, and to not act like the authority.
The team spent six months studying user behavior within existing online support communities to better understand what was missing. Most weight-loss tools require the user to supply information (such as their current weight) before they can get positive feedback.
Temptd targets the moment of awareness, when you need support in a specific situation, but don’t have time to set up a profile and define your goals. The barriers were all removed: users can log into Temptd with their Facebook ID and immediately begin connecting with other people who are facing a similar challenge at the same time. It is much more effective to build trust over time, through regular support in critical moments, rather than demand a set of detailed personal information before users have experienced the benefits of a service.
Temptd differs from other support tools because Temptd is not the authority. Temptd doesn’t tell you what to do. Instead, Temptd recognizes that day-to-day decisions are a struggle for everyone. On Temptd, people are rewarded for being open about the day-to-day challenges that they face. This is critical to building trust, particularly with kids who are used to being told what to do by authority figures.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
The design built on the behavior that we observed online with average people as they struggled to make changes to their behavior around weight loss and obesity. We saw a common pattern as people made long term commitments – and then saw their interest fade over time as their resolve was challenged. The key to success resided in many small, individual moments. With all of the power of facebook, existing communities do not reach people in those individual moments and participate in those decisions. We felt it was critical to build a community specifically around these moments. One in which both success and failure were acknowledged. On Temptd the most important goal is to keep people engaged in a healthy dialogue, not just healthy behavior.
The second key constituency was the healthcare industry. Over and over again we have worked with healthcare companies who were eager to harness the power of social media to enhance their services. But in each case they started with their own knowledge and expertise, convinced that they new the answer to behavior change. And then asked us to add a layer of social media to their programs. Temptd was created on the premise that you shouldn’t add community engagement as a secondary part of the experience. Temptd started with the community first, to demonstrate that trust must be earned and relationships created, before you can provide useful advice. Temptd is a unique platform in which community advice and expert guidance sit side by side.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
The initial concept for Temptd emerged from a six-month study into health support behavior on Facebook. Foursquare had just launched, providing a game layer to enhance the way that people used social networks to meet up. The team hypothesized that a similar game layer could be used to enhance health support behavior online. The research study helped illuminate the types of support messages that drive engagement online.
Those insights formed the core of the concept for Temptd. But, as with any game, you need to create an environment where people can play it to see if it works. An initial iPhone app was bootstrapped and opened up to a small group of beta testers, which allowed fine-tuning of the interactions and the reward structure.
This beta app helped to draw the interest of a number of different partners to expand the reach of the app and bring in additional expert content to complement the gameplay. The team worked closely with MTV to launch Temptd on Facebook at the end of 2010, in close collaboration with the producers and participants in “I Used to Be Fat” to integrate the experience. In February 2010, an iPhone app followed up this initial launch.
The primary goal of the interaction design is to get people involved and provide them support as quickly as possible, making it easy for users to find other people who are struggling with similar challenges — in the moment of need. Both the iPhone and Facebook apps immediately let you know if any of your friends are looking for support and offer a quick mechanism to “Boost” them. This was the easiest way to build trust and offers a simple means to become part of the community.
The team implemented a dual-point structure based on insights from the research. The rewards for these interactions are immediate, as users earn “Karma Points” for supporting other people and “Willpower Points” for their own efforts.
All of the interactions on Temptd are based on the core-messaging model that drives engagement and daily check-ins with services like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Temptd was launched to support an MTV documentary series, “I Used to Be Fat,” which chronicles the efforts of teens to lose weight in the summer between high school and college. Temptd offers a unique way for viewers to get encouragement from the participants and trainers on the show and interact with a larger support community as they try to make meaningful changes in their own lifestyle.
Temptd brings together a powerful convergence of media — mobile technologies, social networks and broadcast TV — to drive awareness and engagement, particularly with teens. MTV is running a Temptd feed in the lower third of all repeat broadcasts of the show to help inspire viewers to get involved with these issues in their own lives.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?