What are networks?

At a basic level, networks are an administrator and/or user defined grouping of users. Sub-networks offer a second layer of segmentation, perfect in a particularly large organization that wants to have groupings and subgroupings.  These groups can be segmented any which way imaginable, and users can belong to multiple networks to allow administrators to get the most out of the system.  

Why use networks?

Networks are a great way to segment your population to:

  1. Create additional levels of administrative help by assigning network managers to each network.  These individuals can help overall platform administrators with tasks such as: reporting, creating engagement activities, and managing incentives.
  2. Increase engagement through:
    1. Additional incentive opportunities – some types of networks may have additional budget for incentives. Take advantage of an additional layer of incentive programming to drive engagement by creating these networks and giving administrative power to a network manager, .
    2. Social networks – Large platforms where users are widely dispersed and administrators are far removed from users will have less impact through social pressures.  By creating smaller networks, administrators will have an easier time reaching end users, and users will feel more social pressure to adhere to social norms established by the smaller group.
    3. Targeted incentive programs – creating networks based on shared interests or common commuting mode will allow administrators to target incentive programs at those that are most likely to make a change and will reduce the chance of incentivizing users to do something that they were already doing.
    4. Cross-network challenges – pit networks against each other in a challenge to commute smarter.  What would motivate a group of college juniors more than the opportunity to one up the seniors?  For more details on network challenges, see User and Network Challenges.

For a deep-dive into the possibilities of segmentation, check out this article by Aaron Gaul of UrbanTrans.

How are networks commonly structured?

Below are several examples of how networks are commonly used to divide users into target populations.

Employer networks

If you are a municipality and you want to partner with employers within your boundaries, you’ll probably want to create networks for those employers and provide the employee transportation coordinator or another contact at that employer with network manager access.  

Department networks

Large organizations, particularly cities universities, are often organized into sizable departments.  Creating networks along department lines allows administrators to have departmental programs or have departments compete against each other for company domination!

Networks based on commute type/commute interest

Group your users based on the type of commuter that they are and target incentive programs at groups that may be the most likely to be influenced and make a change.  For example, drive-alone commuters that are interested in carpooling would be a great group to provide with a carpool incentive. Additionally, this type of segmentation helps administrators avoid loss by not incentivizing users to do something that they are already doing. The information for this kind of segmentation can be gathered through the user registration process and/or through an annual commuter survey. 

Regional networks

Group your users by where they live and thus where they are commuting from.  This may be a great way to put people together for carpooling, vanpooling, or even biking in together.  Additionally, these users likely have similar transit availability and therefore are good candidates to compete against each other for rewards, etc.

Subnetworks and combinations

RideAmigos allows parent-child relationships between networks. Some examples:

  • Regional Platform > Local TMA (Parent network) > Employer (Subnetwork)
  • University Platform > Employees (Parent network) > Department (Subnetwork)

Subnetworks are great for giving the ability to smaller groups to run and manage their own reward and challenge programs, or for tightly targeting eligible users in your programming.

Users can also be members of multiple networks and multiple types of networks, based on what works best for your programs. For example a user might be a member of all the following:

  • An employer network
  • A department network
  • An employer subnetwork for a limited-eligibility program
  • A network of users who usually bike commute
  • A geographically-based network

Really, the sky is the limit and you know what is best for your organization.  Definitely consider surveying your commuters to help you better understand them and segment in a useful way.

How to get started with networks

All of this sounds great and now you’re ready to get started with networks?  Visit our how to create networks page for a step-by-step guide to creating and populating your networks.