The application of gaming techniques in a non-gaming setting is called Gamification. In the community context, it involves understanding what drives your community members. Oftentimes, gamification efforts appear in the form of points and badges. They generally encourage gentle competition around engagement. Badges! Achievements! Unlock this, uplevel that! These are all terms that have risen from gamification techniques. So, let’s get into it and explore how rewarding your community rewards you.
The secret behind member retention
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is our brain's main pleasure center. It gets synthesized during happy moments and increases our blood pressure. This makes us feel on top of the world and motivates our body to repeat the tasks that led to the pleasant feeling. Ultimately, increasing our desire to grab that opportunity once again.
💡Ever wonder why playing games is so attractive? Well, games are well-known to spike our dopamine levels. This increase is in response to completion of challenges or achievements.
The Reward System
Our brains work a certain way- we tend to repeat activities that bring pleasure and avoid the rest. We developed this reward system during human evolution. As a community manager, you should know the needs and desires of your audience. Focus on what brings them value, and enjoy a better retention rate later. This engagement would also bring you increased loyalty and lifetime value.
Common gamification strategies to grow your community
1) Custom permissions:
Reward the members with access to special privileges.
2) Popularity contests:
The number of connections, followers and friends is a gamification strategy. The higher these numbers are, the more popular you are on the social network.
3) Social sharing:
Encourage the members to share community content on social media by rewarding them.
4) Integrate community activities with loyalty programs:
Reward your customers for their contribution towards the community. You can do this by setting up a leaderboard or giving them the chance to win prizes. So, try to merge community activities and customer loyalty programs. After all, your focus is not only influencing the shopping behavior of your members.
5) Being consistent:
Consistent engagement is the key make your gamification plan successful. Make sure the momentum is not lost by having something new to spike the spirit of your community members.
The trick is creating a sense of healthy competition among your community members. You can do this by crafting a combination of different gamification strategies.
We like to think of community building as building your digital empire. If that's the case, we need to set up a virtual currency. It's time to peek into the economics of community currency.
Before currency, people would use the barter system to exchange their goods. Currency serves as a medium of value standardization. It's the exact same principle when it comes to community currency. It's not real, but it has value. You can add a conversion rate to your community coins. This will help provide real-world utility like official merchandise and course registrations.
Your imagination is the limit!
Badges and Reputation Scores
Members who achieve something significant in the community receive Badges. Thus, they express the specialty of a community member, and become aspirational.
Moreover, the other members look up to the badge-holders in all aspects. They consider them as quality contributors. This motivates them to be better and more loyal.
One great way to activate new users is to assign them a badge called "newbie", and outline the steps to upgrade. Your badge serves as your reputation score.
Community members receive Reputation scores on successful completion of an activity. These activities are unique and range from asking questions to getting upvotes. Assigning points can be an interesting way to reward your members.
You might want to assign the badge titles according to your community's personality. So, feel free to customize them to suit your brand.
A gamification strategy brings the valuable contributions of your members into salience. Members should also be able to redeem the rewards. If not, gamification can sometimes backfire.
The larger plan is to motivate the users to support you to achieve the final goals. But, if these end goals look unrealistic, a wave of demotivation can cause frustration. So, the customer goals must be set by taking their comfort into consideration. They should be able to reasonably step up to different levels.
Learning from the best game developers
Electronics Arts (EA) is one of the largest gaming companies in the world.
They wanted to create a system where their users could get the help they needed at reduced support costs. Their online community was born as a centralized location (AnswersHQ) for user interaction. The idea behind this was to give users a platform to discuss and problem-solve challenges.
An interactive approach was designed to reward users who came forward to help and support others. This also incentivised and encouraged other members to be greater contributors.
Their solution included a two-tiered super-user program. Virtual tokens and badges act as rewards for each action performed by a user. Along with this, their ranks would rise on leaderboards.
EA’s gamification program’s most crucial part is its super-user program, which they call ‘Champions and Heroes’.
This program acknowledged super users who represent the pillars of their online community.
Each Champion gets a unique rank and forum badge. They also have the option to create an individual signature. Along with this, Champions get free game perks and access to a private Slack channel. Moreover, they are allowed to chat with the Community Team directly via the channel.
Apart from all the Champion benefits, Heroes get access to an exclusive forum and chat. They also receive some extra game perks. Additionally, Heroes get invitations to exclusive gaming events, and enjoy the chance to forge relationships with game studios.
There is no doubt left in the fact that the gamified-support community and super-user program were big triumphs. They gave the users a reason to come back, which also increased the traffic.
In the modern age, gamification should be well-integrated into the customer journey and not practiced via a give-and-take experience. It's one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal as architects of community success. So, let us help you realize it’s full potential.