Content gamification is currently hot news. It started with Foursquare and those badges. Then LinkedIn began promoting full completion of profiles on the site through a “progress bar.” Every time users log in they can see what percentage they still have to go to meet 100 percent. Essentially, they made the task a competitive activity, although you’re really only competing against yourself. So, by “gamifying” the process, LinkedIn not only increased the content on the site, but engaged its users more fully.
Learning By Doing
We all know we learn by doing, which is the reason why so many children’s toys have an educational component. By playing and fittings cubes and triangles into the correct-shaped holes, children learn basic arithmetic, colors, geometry. So, when you want to teach people about your industry, what better way than to create a game?
Telecom giant Siemens was one of the first companies to get the idea. In March 2011 the company launched its online game Plantville, a simulation in which players get to be plant managers. Players are required to keep their plants running smoothly while increasing productivity, efficiency and the health of the operation.
Content Gamification for Small Businesses
OK, so your company isn’t Siemens and you don’t have 60,000 users to launch your game to. How can you use the concept to increase brand awareness in your business? First, you need to know that gamification may not work for all types of business or all markets. Use these ideas to see whether it could work for you:
- Analyze what action you want users to take. The answer can’t be “buy my product”—that won’t work. It has to be a call to action that is free of charge and benefits the user. For example, you want to engage Facebook followers online or get them to tell others about your company to boost brand awareness. Reward them with points for comments, likes and shares. Then create a facility for them to login to your user website and deposit their points to claim prizes and benefits.
- Identify your market suitability. Not everyone wants to play online games. If your market is seniors, it’s unlikely that your efforts to incorporate gaming technology are going to bear much fruit. However, if you’re dealing with a younger demographic gamification may be very popular.
- Choose the type of game lens you want. This could be:
- Player vs. Player
- Player vs. System
- Progress levels
- Prestige (win a higher status)
- Competitive—beat your friends/other players’ scores
- Don’t make the game too easy or too difficult. This will bore players and they will lose interest. Provide an achievable goal, but one that presents a challenge to get there. And of course, it should be fun. Think of the game Monopoly. How could an online simulation of this type translate into a game to raise brand awareness for a real estate or home improvement company?
It’s Time to Play
The prizes don’t need to be expensive and the technology doesn’t have to be complex for it to work. And it isn’t really new. Remember when we had to buy tons of breakfast cereal to collect the tokens inside that enabled us to enter for the lucky draw? It’s the same concept—it’s just all online now.