Wednesday 23 July 2014

Friday Five: What Gamification means for Digital Marketers

In a previous post we looked at how the evolution of technology and the intrinsic human need for Play had created what Seth Priebatsch of Scvngr calls “the game layer on top of the world” and the start of the process known as “gamification.” According to Wikipedia, “gamification is the use of game-play mechanics for non-game applications (also known as ’funware‘), in order to encourage people to adopt the applications.” This week’s Friday5 explores gamification and what it means for digital marketers.

1. What is Gamification?
As Adam Loving recently wrote, “You cannot increase the intrinsic value of something by adding game mechanics. You CAN make the value more visible.” The level of integration of game mechanics into an app or website can vary widely. Epic Win, for instance, is a to-do list app in the format of a role-playing game (RPG), which very much looks and feels like a video game, offering users a truly immersive experience. Consider this from the app’s site, “Doing the laundry is an epic feat of stamina so why not get stamina points for it?!” At the other end of the spectrum, Foursquare badges, which users of the service compete over, represent a very simple form of game mechanic (one that has been described as pointification, maybe the topic of another post!)

2. Why ‘Gamify’?
As Edelman’s Steve Rubel has already alluded to, the economics of attention, or “attentionomics,” now represent the next online battleground for many brands. Steve argues that attention is linked with economic value creation. However, he says, “with infinite content options (space), finite attention (time) and personalized social algorithms curating most of online experiences, it has become increasingly difficult for brands to stand out.”

Jesse Schell, a game design expert, says, “the psychology behind gamification is grounded in the belief that anything you spend time on or invest money in becomes worthwhile and valuable.” Gamification can support brands that are trying to stand-out while ensuring their initiatives or campaigns keep users engaged in the long run.

3. Keeping it relevant
As Kim Gaskins brilliantly said in a recent post, “regardless of whether a service is employing badges, points, or other reward schemes, the most successful ‘games’ are the ones that tap into something people care about: their personal goals and values, which relate to money, societal causes, or their own social identities and experiences.” Ideally, gamification should be something that happens over time, based on your actual objectives and the user’s “inner drive.”

Dan Robles of the Ingenesist Project takes this a step further and argues that the interaction between these communities creates “social currency,” which is achieved through “collaborative consumption and [the process of] gamification.”

4. Great, where do I start?
Gabe Zichermann wrote a post on TechCrunch which explains how game mechanics could be applied to sites like Facebook, FedEx and Amazon to drive even better customer engagement.

Take a look at SCVNGR’s secret game mechanics playdeck, a list of nearly 50 different game mechanics, that, according to TechCrunch, “can be mixed and matched to create the foundation for different types of games, most of which we’re all probably familiar with already.” “Appointment Dynamic,” for example, is defined as “a dynamic in which to succeed, one must return at a predefined time to take some action.” A real world example is the basis of “happy hour”- to obtain or win the reward (cheaper drinks), a person must show up at a given time and location.

In a Mashable post, Shane Snow presents the basic processes to consider when implementing game mechanics. He says that “many proponents of this type of ‘funware’ in product development and marketing miss the larger point: ‘How’ you incorporate game mechanics is just as important as ‘Why’ you should.”

5. Let’s play
Using proven techniques from game design and the “game layer” of social networks such as Facebook, brands now have an opportunity to satisfy users and customers by providing them with engaging content, while simultaneously driving meaningful value for business.

Some examples of this include the Macon Money project, where residents of Macon, Georgia, were encouraged to do good deeds to earn virtual currency, which could in turn be used to buy real items. 4Food, a healthy fast food restaurant located, decided to engage its customers by allowing to them to create their own burgers online, and sharing their creations with their friends. The most popular and successful burger recipes would reward their inventor with free food at the store.

Another example of gamification is Nike Running’s Nike+ community. The company “gamified” running with Nike+ Tag – a runner can “tag” another runner thus turning running into a game instead of purely exercise.

Please let us know in the comments below of any other good gamification examples you have seen or experienced, and we’ll try and collate a list of the best ones!

Image Credit: Sheryl’s Boys

Disclosure: Microsoft is an Edelman client


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