4 Tips for Adding Gamification to Your Social Engagement Strategy

Social Media
Customer Experience
While social media alone creates buzz around your brand, it's gamification that drives engagement across your online community.

While social media alone creates buzz around your brand, it's gamification that drives engagement across your online community. That's why many enterprise marketers are turning to gamification to measure and influence consumer behavior on their brand-owned Web and mobile sites.

By accessing behavior metrics and understanding customers' specific actions that are tied to key business objectives, you can determine how individual users are interacting with your site's content and what drives customer engagement with your brand. This knowledge can be used for marketing purposes and making further modifications to your gamification approach.
Gamification techniques can be powerful methods of influencing behavior and are already changing the face of digital loyalty and social community. They can also drive customer engagement, which can lead to increased customer retention, repeat buyers, recommendations of your brand to others, and social sharing. But, as with any new technology, there are limits, and if gamification isn't implemented correctly, it won't perform to expectations.

To get started building a successful gamification program, use the following guidance:

1. Identify Value
Make a list of the things your customers value most about their interactions with your brand and its gamified activity, whether an actual game or promotion or some other rewards-for-participation program. What is the primary value proposition or service provided? From the beginning, use your gamification platform to recognize behaviors related to these valued interactions. In addition to identifying value, try to identify behaviors that contain personal expression--behaviors that make your users unique. Expressing personal identity can be valuable to your customers. If you make the experience feel more valuable and more personal, the user will be more likely to engage and reengage.

2. Guide the Experience
Be sure you communicate the "rules" of the game. The more directed you can be towards your customers, the easier it is for them to understand how to participate. Make sure to place guidance to "next steps" prominently within the game or activity so there is little confusion about what steps the customers need to take to achieve their goals. Users won't interact with something they don't understand or something that feels confusing or boring. Additionally, no matter how big or small the accomplishments, be sure to celebrate positive behaviors and offer "rewards" for reaching milestones. By guiding, celebrating, and rewarding customers throughout their experience on your site, they engage throughout the process and continue their positive behaviors in an effort to maintain their reputation or earn rewards.

3. Balance Content
Make early goals effortless to quickly set a precedent for success. As players grow experienced with the games and the system, achievements should then become less frequent and more difficult to obtain. Finally, the most meaningful achievements should be the hardest to earn. An unbalanced experience may end too quickly or will have long periods of inactivity with no positive reinforcement at all, where the player loses interest and customer engagement decreases.

4. Be Creative
Let some personality come through when you create your rewards and messaging. If you are having fun with it, your customers will feel the difference. Be creative in choosing unexpected rewards and special privileges for your top players. Finally, give customers opportunities to promote each other, like voting, sharing, and liking content. The more your customers can feel like they are driving the gamification, the more engaged they will be overall.

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About the Author: Tony Ventrice is senior game designer at Badgeville