What is Gamification and how can you use it to get more people on your website and keep them coming back? Let’s start with a story; I really like stories. When I was a kid, I went to stay with my grandpa in Texas and I remember he used to have lots of Coca Cola for me in bottles and back then they used to play this game where in the cap of the bottle you could win a prize and I won a prize. I was so excited! I don’t even remember what I won. I was just excited that I won.
Now, there is nothing inherently game-like about drinking a Coke out of a bottle, but Coca Cola gamified the act of drinking a Coke. McDonald’s does the same thing with their monopoly game. There isn’t anything game-like about eating French fries or drinking a soda, but it keeps people coming in because they want to collect those game pieces because they can win stuff.
So, gamification is the process of bringing game mechanics to things that are not inherently game-like just like Coca Cola did and just like McDonald’s still does.
There are some websites that do this even better, Foursquare. Foursquare is probably the best example of a gamification website that I know of. If you haven’t used Foursquare, go check it out. It’s a social check-in website. So, when people go places like to a coffee shop or on vacation or to a store or wherever, you can check-in on Foursquare and you can set your mobile device to check you in automatically or you can check-in manually by clicking a button on your phone. Now what this does is, it tells everybody else where you are, which is one reason why I don’t use it because I don’t want everybody to know where I am all the time, but millions and millions of people use this service.
Smart businesses have figured out how to use this service too. They are giving rewards to people who check-in more often. So, for instance if I check-in to the same place 10 times in a week, then I get the Locals badge and smart businesses are giving discounts to the Locals.
If I check-in to a place more than anybody else then I get to be the Mayor of that location. For really good businesses that use Foursquare, they give their Mayors all kinds of perks and discounts. So, let’s say that I go to a place more than anybody else and I am the Mayor and then I go online, I see I have my little Mayor badge for this location and then tomorrow somebody else goes in and they check-in one more time than I have. They get to be the Mayor and now I have been ousted as the Mayor.
So, what does that do to me? I want to be the Mayor, I don’t want to lose my mayorship, so I go back to Foursquare and I check-in again so that I get my mayorship back and I get all those perks and discounts for being the Mayor.
This creates very loyal customers for the businesses that use it effectively. This is gamification at its best. Businesses that have figured out how to use this tool are gamifying the act of coming into their stores and you can do the same thing as Foursquare with your website. You can gamify it so people keep coming back or keep using your service.
Twiends is another example of a website that has done a great job of gamifying. Go check it out if you haven’t heard of it, Twiends.com. It is a service that helps you find more Twitter followers, but it’s not one of those fake services. This actually helps you find legitimate Twitter followers who are interested in the same things that you are interested in.
So, the way they gamify this process is that they give you seeds. So, when you sign up for your account on Twiends, you get a certain number of seeds inserted into your account or deposited into your account. These seeds are then used to get Twitter followers. So, when somebody sees my profile on there and they click the “Follow” button, it subtracts seeds from my account and once I go down to zero seeds, then I don’t get any more clicks because most people only click accounts if they get seeds in return.
If I click on somebody to follow them and let’s say they have two seeds for a follow then those two seeds get deposited into my account. So, now I have more seeds to get more followers for me. Maybe I am not explaining this well, go there and check it out and you will see what I mean.
The way they gamify this, they are gamifying the act of getting Twitter followers because the more people I follow, the more seeds I get and the more people follow me, the less seeds I have, so it’s this constant loop that they created of people clicking and wanting to come back to their website because you want to see your seed level go up and then you also want to go to Twitter and see your Twitter followers go up. So, this is gamification of getting Twitter followers.
Gamification is a great thing to add to your website. In order for gamification to work, you have to have two primary components. The first component is a quest of some sort. You have to give them something to do. So, on Foursquare, they have to go to a store and check in. On Twiends, you have to follow, you have to click to follow people, that is the quest that you have to go on and that’s the first element of successful gamification.
The second element is you have to do some sort of a reward or recognition in response to a successful completion of the quest. So, in the case of Foursquare, you get a badge. If I go to some place and check-in, I get a badge. If I check-in more than anybody else, I get a special badge, a more coveted badge. On Twiends, I get more Twitter followers, that’s the reward. I get more Twitter followers, but by following other people, I get more seeds which then leads to more Twitter followers. See how this works? So, you have a quest and then you have some sort of a reward or recognition for successful completion of the quest. That’s the key to gamification.
So, my challenge to you is to go out right now, or sit down wherever you are and try and think of a way to gamify whatever it is you are doing, the service that you are offering, the products you are selling, figure out how to gamify them because that is a great way to engage your audience and to keep them coming back.