What is Gamification?

We are delighted to welcome Harry Rollason of Useful Social Media as a guest blogger this week. Useful Social Media are hosting The Game Dynamics for Brands Summit 29th February – 1 March 2012 in New York. Gametuned are proud to support this event where “real” marketers can discuss real world implementations of gamification, not just the standard theories and waffle that are the trademark of many conferences and summits in this space! So over to Harry…

 

What is Gamification?

So what is gamification? It is a question that increasingly being asked by marketers around the world. Is it just ‘buzz’ word that’s fashionable for the time being, or is it here to stay?

It’s a very difficult question. But we here at Useful Social Media believe it is more than just a fad and many large corporations agree with us, rushing to apply gamification for their brands. Applying game dynamics to your brand differentiates you from your competitors, imperative in today’s competitive landscape.

Companies are turning to gamification as an innovative new tool to engage with customers who are used to the tricks of advertising and PR. Applying game dynamics for your brand has one critical advantage, the ability to enhance ‘stickiness’ for your brand, so keeping your consumer coming back for more. Create a successful gamification policy for your brand and the engagement possibilities can be huge.

But gamification goes further; it is helping real people with real issues; promoting fitness, helping to improve education and reducing waste.

By harnessing the ‘stickiness’ of games you can also build a relationship with your end users which was almost impossible 12 months ago. And with the market for gamification booming, now is the best time to get ahead of the game at the front of the wave. Especially with current research showing…

• that M2 Research have predicted that the gamification market will be worth an estimated $1 Billion by 2015

• and an estimated 20 million of the more than 25 million 12 -17 year olds in the US are gamers

• that research from the NDP Group showing that 20% of the US population have played a game on a social network sites. And what’s more, that 35% of these social game players are first time gamers who have never played any other kind of video game

• and with Americans now spending 22.7% of their online time on social networks, which is far more than anything else, including email at 8.3%

As advertisers struggle to find alternatives to traditional media, games are looking like a very attractive option for brands to achieve their marketing goals.

 

But is it just a buzzword?

Gamification draws mixed emotions from many in the business marketing world. It’s sometimes seen as a buzzword with few real benefits for business. It has been talked up all over the web as a huge opportunity, but many are still sceptical.

A lot of thought leaders are critical of the simplistic game dynamics companies are choosing to use – suggesting ‘pointsification’ is a more accurate name. Companies are being lazy, failing to add meaningful game dynamics and as a result ending up with gimmicky campaigns. There are too few examples of companies integrating game dynamics on a deep level, and too many examples of companies simply adding a basic point-scoring system to an otherwise prosaic website.

However, some companies are now moving forward and experimenting further. Real results are starting to emerge which seem to prove the power of the new ‘game layer’. The website Allkpop claims it saw a 104% increase in link shares and 36% more comments when it introduced gaming services by Badgeville. Badgeville themselves, a leading gamification platform in the space, say that companies average a 25% lift in user-driven objectives specific to their business with smart gamification techniques.

“Industry-leading brands across retail, enterprise, entertainment, healthcare, services and education are increasingly applying social rewards and reputation to drive user behavior,” said Kris Duggan, CEO, Badgeville. “From Deloitte to Bluefly.com to NBC, our customers rely on Badgeville’s Behavior Platform to increase conversions, time on site, referrals, user-generated content, and, ultimately, profits.”

 

The future of gamification

The consultancy firm, Gartner, predicted in a report in April this year that “by 2015, more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes”; and foresee that by 2014, a gamified service for consumer goods marketing and customer retention will become as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon’’.

Gamifcation is very real, has tangible benefits and is here to stay. But whatever the strengths or weaknesses of this new tool, it’s clear that any marketer serious about innovation and improvement will have to look at the new tool in detail, and judge for themselves.

Build a successful gamification strategy for your brand and the benefits can be great. You can boost brand loyalty, keep your customer engaged and instantly build a relationship between your brand and your end customers. A marketers dream come true.

But even with such a potentially huge opportunity, there are many questions for brands to answer: What rewards should you offer? What sort of game should you design? What are your strategic goals?

I ramble I know, as I have a tendency of doing, but there is a reason for my rant. We here at Useful Social Media are always trying to provide you with useful content. That is why we have carried out an interview with Oliver Fleischhut, Director of Online Communications at Siemens and Samantha Skey, Recycle Banks Chief Revenue Officer to deliver two knockout best practice case studies. As both are real leaders in the gamification space.

Siemens discuss how they created Plantville, their much acclaimed first venture into gamification.

Recycle Bank talk about the importance of gamification being one of the first in the ‘gaming for good’ space.

You can grab a copy of the briefing by heading here. Or if you would rather talk than read – then connect with me at @HRollasonUSM11 or drop some feedback in the comments below!

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