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5 Ideas For Making Gamification More Effective In Online Communities


The majority of big businesses have embraced the gamification hype with varying levels of success. Yes, gamification is here to stay; but it has to be properly implemented in order to maximize the results. To help you with this, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 steps you need to take for a skyrocketing gamification strategy for community building!

Step 1. Keep Gamification Simple

Keeping your gamification simple and easy to follow through is the first requirement to its successful implementation. So, before you start gamifying your online community, you have to clearly define your concept of success. What is it that your customers need in order for you to then reap the benefits of success? Is it total participation? A certain score on a test? Something related to business metrics? You have total freedom over this, but keep in mind that you want it to be clear for customers as well. Otherwise, this view of “success” you may have will become vague, and so, nearly impossible to follow.

The next part of planning your gamification is to create a link that is business-related. You need to make sure that the whole process is tied to your business and its meaningful content. Your community won’t value anything that isn’t useful to them! Also, try to tell a story or give certain context in order to mark the path for your community members to follow. Tell them why they should earn points, win badges, and participate in general. It’s a powerful way of letting them “play” but will keep them aware that it can provide them with more than fun alone. As for the final tip in this step, keep the rules of your games simple.

Adding complexity may resonate well with some, but more people get discouraged than motivated by this. Provide tutorials if needed, just make sure that everyone starts on equal footing. Remember, you don’t want to reward following the procedure but instead getting concrete results.

Step 2. Encourage Competition

As soon as you design the outlines of your strategy, you should focus on fostering competition in your games as that is one of the main driving forces in gamification. Keep your leaderboards small, balanced, or localized. Think of competition in this way: no one wants to go up against the world’s finest unless they truly believe they have a shot!  With this notion in mind, try to devise a personalized structure of leaderboards that is determined by e.g. friends or people of similar “score.”

Beginners and newcomers should have their goal set early, like “try to get past your friend.” As they progress on the list, they should be pitted against more skilled competitors. To achieve this, think about showing only their relevant positions on their leaderboard.

Don’t discourage customers by showing them competition that is too far ahead. Show them only several positions in front and behind them, for example. Then, let them see progress at their own pace while giving them all of the scores only if they specifically ask for it. The right competition promotes several qualities that are beneficial to your community:

Endurance, perseverance, and willpower to rise and meet the challenge, but in accordance and with the existing rules;

  • The ability to enjoy the fruits of your labor and appreciate a worthy effort, even if you lose;
  • The realization that you don’t have to be the best at everything, but strive towards perfection in your domain of influence;
  • Being able to fight against gratification;
  • Valuing progress and improvement over rank and past “glories.”

Step 3. Create Inspiring Badges And Levels, Rank Or Titles

When it comes to badges and levels, you should discern between linear and non-linear content. Levels, ranks, or titles should be used to guide the members of your community along a projected path of success with mostly fixed, specific objectives that need to be reached in order to “progress” towards the next level. On the other hand, badges should be used when you want to reward a non-linear progress. In other words, there is no specific order in which you give badges – as soon as the requirements for getting the badge are met, it is given out to the winner.

Be creative when you name your levels and badges, e.g. “Freshman” instead of “Level 1”, or “Grandmaster” instead of “Level 30.” These are more immersive and attractive components of the game. Try to reward even the stuff that is not related to good performance. There are communities that reward reading the code of behavior with a badge. It isn’t an explicitly difficult task, you’ll agree, but rewarding it promotes it and encourages people to follow it. Using badges in this way can incentivize people to do things that they would otherwise consider bothersome or tiresome.

Vague and abstract ideas are hard to grasp and hard to reward – keep your desired goals as concrete as possible. Avoid rewarding “kindness”, “friendliness”, “diligence.” Reward instead “helping 5 members”, “making 10 friends”, doing “7 tasks in a row without breaking a single deadline.” See? Much more specific.

Step 4. Be Transparent

Make winning, earning, and scoring transparent. First of all, like we said before, keep scoring simple and easy. Avoid ambiguous and/or complicated formulas. Members should know from scratch what they need to do in order to get something. Second, you need to know what happens in all given cases when regarding a task. Run various scenarios – don’t allow undefined occurrences that confuse, alienate, or offend anyone. Always keep badges, levels, and scores public.

The whole point of gamification is to motivate members to partake in general activities – you don’t want to alienate anyone by implying favoritism in your community. Also, the rewards come with a solid reputation for those who’ve earned it – we all want to increase our standing, right? So, if my friend managed to get that badge, why can’t I?

Step 5. Incentivize

As for the last step – try to extend the impact of actions done in your community even more by incentivizing and offering rewards in real life. Here are some examples:

Reward #1: Direct Rewards

These are pretty straightforward rewards, community members know the requirements in advance and they are motivated to complete them with a real-life award, usually in the form of a coupon, a discount on the goods or services of your business, etc.

Reward #2: Random Rewards (Mystery Box)

By randomizing rewards, your members know that completing a required action will get them something, but they don’t know exactly what the reward is. It may sound silly at first, but the process of winning the reward is more exciting than the reward itself because the reward is unknown – think of that birthday or Christmas present anticipation.

Reward #3: Sudden Rewards (Easter Eggs)

Sudden Rewards are rewards that aren’t known in advance and that the customer doesn’t expect to get. The element of surprise and the extra feeling of excitement and luck is what is so alluring when it comes to these rewards. Getting a sudden reward creates a lingering effect that will also increase the global efficiency of your community.

Following these steps ensures that your gamification strategy yields maximum results. Applying them effectively creates impactful results!

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