What do we actually want to earn?

We have assisted lately to the valuations of different social networks (and we are talking about billions here) and some argue that this value mainly belongs to the users, to the value they create and share. I have discovered last week at Next Conference in Berlin a new rising social network (www.mycube.com) that promises very desirable founding principles, among which you can also find: monetization for the users in return of the value they create (more info in this article).

Apparently it sounds great for the users, but there is much more behind the obvious.
Beyond people appreciating the new “Robin Hood in town” that would like to share the wealth with all the people and beyond people always willing to earn some extra money, there is some interesting psychology behind it – and here is why I would call it a smart strategic move in the backstage of the business.

I believe that this strategy will reach and motivate three segments of users (contributors, socializers and gamers) in the same time, but for different reasons:
- Earning cubes (that can transform into real money) means that all this becomes a social game/ contest. A dynamic challenge in your circles of connections. And so many other social gaming platforms proved to be successful already (Foursquare, Zynga etc.)
- Earning cubes (that can transform into real money) means reaching a status that you can share into your network – hitting the top parts of Maslow’s pyramid. You can see how much you are worth and brag to others too, you can get recognition. And we’ve already seen that people are more and more interested to measure their influence and make it public in their networks (e.g.: Klout)
- Earning cubes (that can transform into real money)  means that creators of content and socializers can receive incentives/ rewards for their work, knowledge, network. It is important as a user to feel like the time spent came up with a result. Just as good bloggers can monetize their blogs by displaying ads.
And yes, having the cubes as a different currency than real money makes it even better. That is because it makes people think in a new points system, points that have the same value for everybody and that allows benchmark at international level, while competing and collaborating with your connections….or should I just say: playing together?
Bottom line, what we really want to earn is not money, but THE prize – be that social recognition, appreciation or just the top places in the competition…all in our relevant micro-world. And that’s why I believe that this is a winning strategy, due to its behind-the-obvious reasons.