I was late getting to work today. My daughter had my iPhone and was intently popping bubbles. Every time I asked for it she replied, “Hold on, I’m on a roll.” She showcased the utter simplicity of gaming’s power.
Mashable describes gamification as “the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. The technique can encourage people to perform chores they ordinarily consider boring.” Let me guess, you have a list of things you want customers to provide or do for you, but have given little thought as to why they should. Maybe that’s why fan engagement with brands is at around 1%.
Let’s look at why gamification in in-game contexts works.
People Like Simple, Fun, Free Things:
Free-to-play removes friction. You want them playing within seconds. In 2012, casino, hidden object, and casual games were most popular. Why? Because we already know how to play. And it has to be work technically. Facebook is making it easier for players to have a continuous experience across devices. Social management platforms for brands incorporate skinned social games to increase time spent on brand Facebook Pages.
People Like to Advance and Achieve:
Working toward a goal is addictive. Sure you’re only trying to level up, but as far as your brain is concerned, you’re saving the planet. Farmville still tops the charts, because there’s “work” to be done, a crop to harvest. Other game rewards like virtual goods, extra “lives” or credits are hugely satisfying because they took effort. We “earned” them.
People Like to Compete:
Social gaming, especially mobile gaming, is still rising. Last year, total social/mobile games boomed from 90 million to over 211 million. An IDATE study says by 2016, social games will make up about half the video game market. Facebook had 235 million active gamers in August 2012. You get the picture. You want to play with friends. And once you’ve achieved something, you want to share it.
People Like to Avoid Boredom:
We’re not talking about hardcore gamers who spend 8 hours on the virtual battlefield. We’re talking about the person in a waiting room that just wants to fill/kill time. But without that winning formula of fun, achievement and reward, a game activity won’t last. Playnomics.com found 85% of social gamers drop a downloaded game in one day.
So how can you win by “gamifying” in a non-game context?
Research and Product Development:
Edelman’s Robert Phillips talks about brands setting up “prediction markets” in which users are incentivized to help predict how well a campaign or product will work. A/B testing at its most honest.
You want my email and a bunch of other information about me? Fine. Then you’re going to have to rope me in where I offer it to you a little at a time, and for the purpose of achieving goals I’m pursuing, such as free products or major discounts.
Gigya found out adding gamification to a site boosts engagement by almost a third. Comments go up 13%, social sharing goes up 22%, and content discovery goes up 68%. That makes sense. You’ve given me something fun and active to do on your site instead of just making it a brochure.
I know, you’re the boss and you can order your staff to learn things. But how cool would it be if they learned things not just to keep from getting fired, but approached the material positively and actually retained the information?
Do your customers get any rewards for getting a sale for you? Are they getting rewarded for making multiple purchases with you? No? Wow, I guess you feel they owe you everything instead of the other way around.
Alert! Employee reviews aren’t fun. Interviewing is not fun. But having benchmarked goals that go on your record and earn you a day off is fun. Working through a practical, real-world exercise related to the job you’re applying for so you can be measured against other applicants is kind of fun…and perceived as fair.
There’s very little that can’t be gamified. My dentist is even thinking about giving us letter grades to make us improve our flossing. But here’s your takeaway: we want the public to do a lot of things for us these days, from sharing to liking to commenting to buying to giving us their data to learning more about us. And they might do it. But only if they’re hooked, having fun and being rewarded.