Gamification is the most efficient way to design social media strategies

Gamification is one of the most successful ingredients for building brand advocacy. Gaming mechanics from video games, such as the use of ranks, progression, appointments, and set completion are some of today’s most successful motivators for driving customer behaviour.

We’re seeing more and more brands recognise the value and potential of using such game mechanics to drive engagement among wider audiences in order to motivate people to participate in conversations and communities around their brand, product or solution, and incentivise them to do so through rewards.

Such rewards can include offering badges to people who contribute value to the community, or turning community-driven ideas into a new product/solution to show customers that they can actually make a difference. It is a great strategy for businesses that are looking to build long-lasting relationships with their customers and deliver value that motivates participation and interaction within communities.

Professional gamers themselves have discovered ways to gamify community participation so that they can work with customers to help them engage wider audiences and build brand advocates, or as I like to call them, ‘superfans’.

I think this is the most efficient way to design social media strategies as it measurably improves a brand’s marketing and sales, accelerates innovation, and increases customer engagement and satisfaction.

A well designed gaming dynamic brings players to the next stages at the right time so the players feel accomplished. The opportunity for pride, achievement and belonging is what gets social customers to interact, keeps them coming back, and gets them to engage in more behaviours that benefit the community.

From a customer relationship standpoint, gamification pushes brands to a level up, from ‘like’ to ‘love’, and then from ‘love’ to ‘crave’. Gamification in a community builds trust and cohesion, finds and cultivates your superfans, and provides addictive fun—all key ingredients for vibrant social destinations that offer experiences that social customers crave.

It’s a very effective way to drive actions and influence. I’ve seen it in our client’s community data. There are community superfans who spend more than 30 hours a week participating in a community. Part of this can be attributed to the gamification of community participation. So don’t ever underestimate the business value of fun.

Dr. Michael Wu is the Principal Scientist of Analytics at Lithium Technologies. Michael received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s Biophysics graduate programme. Currently, Michael is applying data-driven methodologies to investigate and understand the complex dynamics within online communities as well as the greater social web. Michael has developed the Community Health Index (CHI) and many predictive social analytic algorithms that bring Lithium closer to its vision of “one portal to manage the entire social web.” To tackle challenging problems like the value of WOM and social media ROI, Michael collaborates with academicians to conduct research on these important topics of social media that are presently unsolved. Michael’s R&D work at Lithium has won him the recognition as a 2010 Influential Leader by CRM Magazine.