Gamification is a strategy or technique that deploys game thinking and game based mechanics in a non-game context to help solve problems and also engage users effectively. The gamification methodology is used in various applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data metrics and its quality, timely delivery and finally leading to self learning and discovery.
Gamification techniques are implemented based on people’s natural desires for achievement, competition and self-expression striving towards improvement of their confidence levels. The main goal of a gamification strategy is to reward players who strive and accomplish their desired tasks. The types of rewards to these users include points, badges, scoring boards and also in some cases, by providing a virtual currency to the users.
Keeping in mind all these technology advancements and strategies that will help in improving the user interaction levels, it is important to look at the importance of gamification for content publishing business. But, before understanding this, we need to know the reason behind the mass reach of content publishing, as a business in the market.
Changing Content Publishing
Since the advent of digital marketing, content has been a major requirement in all ways of promotions on the website or through advertisements, in whatever mode it may be. So this has made content publishing, a need and indispensable one in marketing.
The content publishing business has witnessed a phenomenal change in the recent past from print to online and now it is progressing towards a major transition in the requirements of “consumption” to making it more interactive to engage the users. Almost every minute, there is at least one user who tries to view a video for knowledge acquisition or satiating desire for entertainment. Also other modes like Blog, snippets, and visual media are being used to engage users. While this is the trend, the consumption has been progressing towards media phenomenally. This is mainly because Internet has become the most sorted after option for every user. This transition in the content publishing could be seen as from a consumption market to a digital market where every user wants to explore and establish his identity in his own terrain.
Introducing gamification for content publishing business is a reality that is already explored by many publications. The Huffington Post was the early adopter in using gamification techniques to trigger high-level of engagement by using badges and reward systems to encourage readers to perform a variety of activities on the site. Here, we can find some modes through which gamification could be introduced effectively in content publishing business.
The major goal for businesses to implement gamification is to improve customer/audience motivation and drive their business goals, and in content publishing: engagement.
Some types of gamification features must include:
- Points/ Coins System to reward the users who help to build and improve positive site building.
- A leader board that helps to track these coins and points.
- A marketplace or reward system where the users could trade their points/coins that they have gathered. This marketplace needs to well thought to be rewarding or motivating for users.
- A graphic representation or progress bars that could help users to tract the complete activity which would act as a catalyst for the site activity.
- Integrating with Social networks; announcements on the social networks for achievements to encourage and motivate users.
- Options to grow community through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to help users grow the community themselves and be more engaged.
- Fun elements/ badges with photos and avatar images to make the users feel excited on the site.
- Referral options on the site through social media platforms in case of ecommerce.
The concept of gamification is not only to engage active users further but also to convert inactive community into a lively carnival. You may have huge traffic on your website, but do you have an active community. An active community is one where readers actually share things, where they get to know who the best contributor is, who leaves the best comments and who are the most loyal?
Thankfully all these problems can be easily solved by better engagement. By offering reader’s points and badges you are converting your website into a platform where people will do things with more thought and quality as reward is associated with their performance, for example anyone leaving a comment will think how others will like it, as reward will make him question his thoughts, leading to better quality content.
Humans by nature love to play games or Gamify things and when, if you are offering rewards, they will work hard to achieve it.
Will Gamification Work for you
The first thing to consider before applying game mechanics to your website is to think that will it work for you. To be honest, not every website can benefit from gamification, if not executed properly. Informational websites like Wikipedia requires very high user interaction and therefore benefit a lot from implementing game mechanics of rewarding their volunteers through experience and power to become moderators. Gamification could be beneficial for you if:
- You want to get the best of the huge traffic that your website is generating
- You want to establish a strong audience
- You want to motivate community that has contributed to your success so far
- You are ready to bear the expenses for prizes and subscriptions
- You want to reduce the bounce rate of your website
Once you have decided that adding game mechanics work for your website, try to collect feedback before you actually lock the strategy. Create a quest for your audience. By learning how your audience react to your new concept, you can understand that your strategy addresses their interests directly.
Having this audience insight will help you to create a repository of badges or rewards. It must also be noted that a failed gamification strategy may not only make the audience lose interest in your site, but it may also spoil your site’s reputation.
Allow Users to Share their Achievements
No one enjoys their achievements on a website unless they share them with their circles via social networks. Achievements mean more to the users if they tell the world about it. This also encourages their friends to visit your site as well. Also reward your visitors for referring their friends to your website. Dropbox has mastered the art of friend referrals. It rewards new users as well as users who referred them. A good gamification platform should be able to track shares and referrals.
Provide Instant Feedback
One of the important elements of a successful gamification strategy is instant feedback. You need to offer rewards to your users for their every achievement. One of the best ways of doing is using progress bars. Even if users have not completed their task to claim the reward, providing them with immediate visual feedback through progress bars would motivate them in completing the relevant tasks. You can also mention the guidelines alongside every reward or badge.
Integrate Points and Level Systems
Before you use a points system, find out what it’s going to mean to your users. Should users earn points for shopping through your online store? Or should they be rewarded points for leaving comments on your blog posts or in a forum? Points without a level system would not be of any interest to the user. Level systems encourage users to continue to earn points to reach the next level.
Reward in Context
Give your users badges, rewards or other credentials that are relevant to their accomplishments and the content on your site. For example, if your site is about sports, then it is meaningless to reward your users a badge as a ninja. Some companies reward points that can be exchanged for a discount on physical goods. Others offer virtual gifts that users can show off on their profile attached to the website.
You don’t need to break your head for desigining the gaming system. Popular gamification platforms like Badgeville, BigDoor, Punch Tab, Bunchball and SCVNGR can help you in implementing gamification concept successfully. Capitalize on these tips and increase your user engagement as well as your website income.
Gamification is About Engagement
Gamification looks for ways to integrate game mechanics, social mechanics, and reputation mechanics into products, services, or processes in order to make them more fun and enjoyable. It’s about elegantly combining what people like about games, and adding them to non-game activities making them more fun and addictive.
Online Community Engagement is the core logic behind gamification in online content publishing. It is always effective when any content is introduced on the social media by a trusted friend or following and leads to more engaged online community. The reach is always the best. This could drive strong business results if implemented properly. It is best to run different tests before going full throttle since the results can’t be easily predicted and forecasted, but with different attempts and proper analysis from analytics, you can find the reasons of reasons, the engaging factor(s), and try to replicate them.
Optimizing for engagement is something social networks, like Facebook and Pinterest, are doing pretty well and improving constantly. Everything from on boarding and messaging, to the number of suggested friends or categories to follow for a first time user has been carefully studied through different multi-variant tests and have been optimized . Growth hackers are increasingly looking for ways to promote virality, either through clever incentives, or gray-area sneakiness. Email campaigns are perfectly timed to optimize for click-through, and almost every application includes social integration as it is a untapped audience which not only comes through trusted reference but also are interested.
Engaging users is not something which should be left to luck, but should be properly analyzed and understood. Even success or failures should be broken down in different elements associated with it, and through proper metrics should be tested more. With so many readily available tools it is not as difficult as it sounds, as with SAAS applications you also don’t need to do high investment prior hand, but can grow and invest further as per need.
Future has Always been Here
Content Publishing was never only about content, but also about distribution and audience. It is same with online publishing which has seen phenomenal change in last couple of years. Content is readily available and distribution is only a click away. With so many content mediums pressing on user’s time, engagement is the factor which can’t be left to chances, and has to be considered as backbone of business. Gamification as process can help you win on it.
Gamification is like gravity, it has existed even before it was discovered.
What are your thoughts on Gamification? Do you think this is an important trend that we will be seeing more, or do you remain sceptical about it as a fad which will pass? Curious how Gamification might apply to your site or problem? Let’s start a discussion.