The term ‘gamification’ is often associated with improving the performance of sales teams, or helping to support learning. But, play can also be a powerful way to drive engagement with your online communities.
Using games to engage audiences isn’t a new concept. The media has been doing it for decades – using crosswords, quizzes, and competitions to keep their audiences coming back for more.
The basic premise of what interests people and encourages their participation is the still the same (fun and a bit challenging). People haven’t changed, but the speed and volume of content being thrown at them on a daily basis has changed immensly. The huge churn rate of digital content means it’s harder than ever to create that ‘thumb-stop’ moment, and garner even a few seconds of a person’s attention as they scan their social feeds.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the basic principles that have guided publishers for over 100 years. So, we’ve taken a step back to consider how games help to encourage better engagement on social media.
Games Incentivise and Reward
Games offer the chance to incentivise engagement. This could be in the form of a prize for completing or winning the game. But games also offer an intrinsic reward for the player just by taking part. We are all hard wired to receive a chemical ‘happy hit’ when we engage in play.
Chance and luck games are best suited if you want to focus on adding an incentive to play, and often go hand-in-hand with tactics such as ‘instant win’. People are more likely to participate if the reward seems more attainable (versus a prize draw, for instance). After all, this is why the national lottery and other gambling games are so popular.
Wheel of fortune, scratchcards, and slot machines all offer a simple way to attract interest from people who may not have previously engaged with your social posts.
Games Present a Challenge
The more time people spend participating in your games, the stronger the memory associations will be that relate to your brand.
Skill-based games offer the user a much deeper and richer experience, compared to just liking or commenting on a post in your feed. When you invite people to take part in a challenge that requires some test of their skills, they are much more likely to be building positive memories (because their brain is rewarding them with a dopamine hit!).
This makes you more likely to be front-of-mind when they next consider a purchase.
If you are looking to increase the time spend engaging with your brand content, try these simple skill-based games:
- ‘Test Your Knowledge’ – people can’t resist this one. For niche topics that have a highly active fanbase, you could also make it extra hard by requiring them to complete all questions within a time limit. Make sure you reward those who complete it though!
- Spot the difference, guess the image, or a memory game – all of these require a reasonable level of skill and present enough of a challenge to attract interest from those who may not usually be as engaged with your brand.
Games Invite Us to Compete
It’s in our nature to be competitive. That’s why the Olympics exist.
There is competition wherever you look: in politics, on TV, in sport, in economics – everywhere. Facilitating this competitive spirit can be a powerful brand engagement tool.
Invite people to compete with each other. Create a leaderboard system for all participating players. This offers a double-whammy of increasing the challenge, and encouraging people to share the game (and their scores!) with friends and social connections.
A leaderboard helps to lengthen the life of your social campaign as well, because players will be urged to move up in the ranks by returning to play again. Offering multiple chances to play is a great way to encourage long term engagement with your game, and therefore your social feeds.
- Set a daily challenge for those who are engaging with your game content. A question, a task or something where they can accumulate points. Accumulating a certain number of points then leads to a reward such as a secret discount code or a physical prize, like a free product or gift certificate.
As marketers, sometimes we forget why people are on social media. We live in hope that brands will be viewed in the same light as a person’s friends and social buddies. That a transaction or two is all that’s needed to get them chatting with us on Facebook about our latest product innovation or advert. For most, In reality, brands are a poor cousin, occasionally noticed just long enough to raise a smile, or warrant a like.
Why is this? Because it’s much more fun to chat with your mates, than with that cousin you never knew you had.
Games give people a reason to pay more attention. If you reward this attention, offer them a challenge, and invite them to compete with others, this may just push you into their ‘OK to chat with’ club on a more regular basis.
Learn more about why all marketeers should play more and then start planning your next game-led campaign.
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