Gamification: A useful tool for your content marketing strategy

Written by on Monday, May 5th 2014

Gamification: A useful tool for your content marketing strategy
“It’s not about ‘gamifying’. It’s about driving revenue, saving costs, making people more efficient.” – Bob Marsh, CEO, LevelEleven

Gamification is officially part of the set of marketing tools that every business should use to develop its marketing strategy. It is the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game application to make them more fun and engaging. I’m sure that if you use even only social networks you know what I’m talking about.

I spend so much time on internet and in the past months I found that many more brands are embracing a gamification strategy to engage their users and promote their products. The modality depends a lot on the brand, the platform chosen to gamify and type of gamification. 

We can actually divide gamification into two big families: The first one is more visual and is closer to a real game, with levels, scores and social competition. It usually implies the development of a dedicated app or website and a higher investment
We have an example of this with Nike  and the Nike+  app that they created. In 2011 they registered a 40% increase of subscribers of the app Nike+; this contributed to increase the business revenues of the running sector by 30%.

The second family is more related to your content and that one your users can generate. To develop this kind of gamification the budget you need is not very high; the most important thing is actually to create an engaging story and design a promotional strategy that can balance the lack of special effects typical of the visual gamification.
 
Heineken organized a contest for the US Open just using Instagram. This simple project of gamification, lasted 3 days, registered 15.000 participants and a boost of 20% of followers on the american Instagram account. The participants didn’t have the feeling that they were taking part in a marketing project, but rather that they were just having fun.
Gamification: A useful tool for your content marketing strategy

Why users enjoy gamification?

“I think [gamification] is simply a reflection of our innate desire as humans to be recognized.” – Dave McDermott, Director of Sales Enablement, Kelly Services.
 
Traditional advertisement is based on one-way communication, from the agent to the client. In the past years consumers acquired a sort of immunity to this kind of message. As they consider advertising as something annoying, they have begun to ignore it.
 
Gamification instead, allows the user to interact with the brand, to reveal themselves and this way, to be recognized by the company.
The simple fact of being shared on the official page of the brand or to gain an exclusive discount will be perceived by the user as an award for his loyalty. This can start a chain reaction which will bring him to feel more attached to the brand and increment his engagement.

Why you should enjoy gamification?

Let users play with your brand and have fun with it, it's a great opportunity for you to get in touch with them.
According to the type of gamification you’re going to undertake, you can touch off different emotional responses in the users. It can just be amusement or far more, a sense of belonging. 
In both cases there will be an increase of engagement and retention, which, as you know, are two important things that will help you avoid the failure of your brand.

How you can gamify your content?

Whatever the type of gamification is, it’s necessary to have a clear idea of ​​the story you are going to tell to your users. To write this story you should first answer some questions like:
 
- What is my business? 
- Which is the goal I want to reach? 
- Which will be the target of my gamification?
 
Once you have the answers to these questions and you have chosen the channel to use, you’ll have all the elements to start creating the story of your gamification project. To do all this, you don't need money, but only a lot of imagination and storytelling ability. It doesn’t need to be complicated, on the contrary, when talking about content gamification, it’s important to provide an easy and clear guide, with the rules, the purpose and of course, the prize.
 
If you have an app or a website I suggest you to use them, be sure to provide your users with the tools to use during the “game”, such as: the sharing and comments tools both on the website and the mobile app; a section dedicated to the submission of content; social networks through which they can spread the word using your official hashtags; etc…
 
This all can encourage participation and trigger the communication between you and your users.
 
Communication can reduce the distance between the brand and the customer by half, allowing you to strengthen the engagement. 
Users will be encouraged to spend time with your content and brand, and even share it with their friends. This will enable you to have users that are more conscious of your product and will also help get you new audience. 
 
Sometimes it’s just a matter of creating a habit. If your users will start to read your content every day to receive a reward, it’s highly probable that they will keep reading even when the game is over.

Example of content gamification

We cannot ignore that sometimes users are more expert about our product then the people in charge of promoting it. So why not give them the opportunity to give ideas about how to advertise it, about modifications that can be made, special new features or even a new concepts, like Volkswagen did in 2011.

People's Car Project - Hover Car from hymn wong on Vimeo.



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