Gamification: Engagement that Wins

Favorites Mar 02, 2012 No Comments

Gamification: Engagement that Wins

By Ruth Michel

Catapulting angry birds through the air, sinking all five boats in Battleship, building Farmville chicken coups, aligning tetras rows, running the winning touchdown – we’ve all felt the thrill of games in our lives, and businesses are using this thrill to their advantage.

Playing games is a classic form of engagement that brings both players and onlookers together. Consider the Olympics. Now cell phones and social media allow this engagement to occur more easily and in most situations. No matter what form the challenge takes – racing, scoring points, collecting badges or reaching levels – participants tend to have fun, momentarily forget their worries and let loose. It goes without saying that brands want to be associated with such an experience.

Gamification integrates game qualities into ordinary experiences. This can play out in many different ways, but businesses should make sure that the strategy is used to support goals. In other words, don’t just create a game for the heck of it and say your business is cool. Here are a few purposes gamification can serve:

Attract New Customers

Mellow Yellow discovered an independent source had created a Facebook Page for the sugary drink. When it inherited the page, it launched a campaign with the goal of attracting 10,000 new fans by the end of the year. It met its goal within one month, with its main feature being “The Retro Smooth Photo Generator”. Fans would upload a “Not So Smooth” photo and then, “like magic,” the “Smooth” photo would display. Fans would be transformed into an 80s character with cool features such as a fro and sunglasses. Everyone had fun and learned that Mellow Yellow came out in 1979.

Inform Your Audience

Similar to gamification is edutainment, in which people learn through entertainment. I put this to the test when I was working on a financial literacy campaign. We created a Flash computer game for our website where kids would answer questions about personal finance and be rewarded for correct answers with a number of seconds to pop balloons. Each balloon pop revealed points that were added to a score. In this case, a game turned a boring subject fun. It’s a great way to increase knowledge.

Create Stickiness

McDonald’s Monopoly’s Wikipedia page is more substantial than most business’ Wikipedia page. The game has returned every year since it began in 2003. The genius behind this game is that to win big, you have to make return visits to collect enough of the same colored property. This increased customer loyalty and rewarded those customers who ate Big Macs and Happy Meals on a regular basis.

Personalize Your Brand

Nike personalized its brand by creating Nike+, which simulates races between friends and helps runners track their calories, miles and routes.

Reward Spenders

Reward programs are everywhere now. People love earning points. The most well-known example is frequent flyer programs. As this type of program is nothing new, find ways to make yours particularly engaging. Think public recognition, privileges and smartphone apps.

You can go old-school or cutting edge, only make sure it’s both fun to participants and beneficial to your business. Have you tried gamification yet?

To learn more about using incentives as part of your gamification strategy, visit, email or call 941-552-7885.

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