This guest post is from my friend Joey Strawn. Joey is a hype-free, forward-thinking social media and game strategist who loves helping companies explore and understand social media, digital marketing, gamification and their uses. He loves talking about gaming, social media, rock music and dragons and is always up for a good debate. You can usually find him at a bookstore and always over at JoeyStrawn.com.
Did you ever make up your own games with just a few friends when you were younger? My three friends and I had a game called “Oopsie” (clever, I know) that consisted of throwing a kickball over my two-story house and not allowing it to hit the ground on the other side. Two players stood on either side of the house and whomever caught the ball got a point and got to throw it back. If the ball hit the ground, both players lost a point. If your throw didn’t make it over the house, you lost a point.
The highlight of the game was whenever the ball hit the ground, both players on that side of the house had to yell “Oopsie” as loud as they possibly could.
It was one of the most fun games I’ve ever played and only about 4 people on the face of the planet even knew what it was.
Gamification is a term being thrown around a lot lately and it’s possible you have no idea what it means, especially if you’re working in small business.
Gamification is the integration of game mechanics and dynamics into business, websites, service, communities, content or campaigns with the expressed purpose of driving participation. It mainly got it’s start in the world of technology, but has since spread to be adapted for businesses small and large. (Perhaps you’ve heard of Foursquare, which is one of the more popular location-based games used by businesses).
So how can game dynamics help your small business? Here are 5 things to keep in mind while considering:
1. It’s Not Just About Badges – I’m starting with this point because most companies I work with simply want to slap badges on their existing crap. That’s not what Gamification is about. It’s true that many outward-facing aspects of Gamification take the form of Badges or Stickers or the Like, but Gamification is a process, created from the ground up and integrated with the business practices already in place. It’s not a candy coating, it becomes part of your businesses DNA.
2. There are External and Internal Gamified Systems – This is one that gets a lot of people mixed up. The term “Gamification” is not a catch-all for everything that can be done within an organization to increase participation. First, you have to decide if you want to Gamify internal processes or external processes. I’ll explain: Gamifying internal processes means creating methods of participation for your own employees. These can be meant to increase productivity, morale, or any number of objectives (mentioned later). Gamifying external processes means creating ramified methods of participation for your current and prospective customers (i.e. getting badges for using products, leveling up to different plateaus of experience, earning the right to ____________, etc.). Both types of Gamified systems have to be approached separately and thoroughly to be effective.
3. Yep, You Still Have Objectives – As I mentioned earlier, Gamification isn’t a fix-all for crappy products/services/apps/etc. Just like with your other small business marketing endeavors, you have to know what you want to accomplish in the onset. Set objectives and then work backwards from there. For example, let’s say your objective is to raise awareness on Facebook (or Twitter, or Google+) in the first quarter by 15%. That’s a well-rounded, measurable objective, so then you’d work backwards, using our next step…
4. Play - You’ve set your objective (raise awareness on Facebook by 15% in Q1), now we’re working backwards to find our steps. Find your current awareness level, the new Facebook Insights layout can help there, and then decide what your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be. Does “Liking” your Page indicate awareness for you? Maybe it’s comments or sharing a post that really shows you that people are aware of your company. You have to decide that for yourself. Then, figure out a game mechanic (Status, Access, Power, Stuff) that can encourage people to participate. Set it up on a Tab or PageModo Page and let the games begin.
5. Measure, Measure, Measure – Are people playing your game? Is your customers’ awareness level raising? Don’t look at me. You should be measuring this stuff. Gamification isn’t all fun and games. Build in metrics that can be measured and know from the onset how you’ll be measuring. Keep in mind that new metrics are created almost every week. Keep it simple. Find measurements you trust and understand and keep an eye on them. Depending on the length of your campaign (a week, a month, indefinitely), you may be checking every day. That’s okay. Remember though: Just because you can measure something, doesn’t mean you should measure it. It is really important to your campaign that you know the heat map of your third landing page? Maybe, but if not, don’t worry about it. Measuring in social media and Gamification is just like anything else, don’t get caught up in micro-trends. Look at trends over periods of time to see how people are truly reacting to your game. If it’s not working. Try again.
So Gamification can work for small businesses like yours. You just have to put a little bit of work into that playtime. Don’t worry if it’s tough at first. Keep at it and you’ll see. If you want some more instruction when it comes to Gamification you can also check out these places:
- My Gamification Series (link: http://joeystrawn.com/category/gamification-3/)
- The Gamification Blog (link: http://gamification.co/)
- Gamification.com (by Bunchball) (link: http://gamification.com/)
- The Badgeville Blog (link: http://www.badgeville.com/blog)
- The BigDoor Blog (link: http://mygamification.com/)
Or you can always just Contact Me and we can chat about games and how I can help.
You’ve got it in you to play great games at your company, all it takes is a little bravery and the willingness to say “Oopsie” some, but that’s all part of the fun.
- 2011 Was Big For Gamification – 2012 Should Be HUGE (thetechscoop.net)
- Chances Are, You Have Already Been Gamed (thecontentcocktail.com)
- Social Media and Games, Level 1 (joeystrawn.com)
- Frank’s #FollowFriday: Joey Strawn (@joey_strawn) (frankdickinson.me)
- Seven Tools for Your 2012 Marketing and Communication Plans (spinsucks.com)