Marketers Need to Understand Social Game Mechanics

If it seems that in what is an increasingly fragmented digital landscape, social games have broken some secret code to building and engaging massive audiences, it's because they have. Look at social gaming giant and far away leader, Zynga and the millions upon millions of engaged consumers spending time with their highly addictive, and ever-evolving games (full disclosure: my company, SVnetwork works extensively with Zynga). Marketers should be asking themselves; what can I learn from social games and apply to my digital marketing efforts?

Last week TechCrunch posted a story about one social gaming company's playbook to building highly engaging social games called "SCVNGR's Secret Game Mechanics Playdeck". While there are a lot of practices that might not make sense for many marketers, I would argue that there are even more lessons that do make sense. Take for example:



"7. Cascading Information Theory

Definition: The theory that information should be released in the minimum possible snippets to gain the appropriate level of understanding at each point during a game narrative.

Example: showing basic actions first, unlocking more as you progress through levels. Making building on SCVNGR a simple but staged process to avoid information overload."

Think about what it would mean to apply this principle to engaging consumers in a digital brand experience. It is the difference between giving a consumer a staged introduction to getting to know your brand/service/product where they can learn or interact with one feature or message at a time vs. simply dropping a consumer on your Web site with everything and hoping the consumer takes the time to navigate. The average time spent by consumers on corporate Web sites post-click shows that they are not on the average. I know "less is more" has been said a lot, but in many cases it's true.

What are some other examples of how you could see using game mechanics in your digital marketing efforts? Tweet me at and/or leave a comment on the Spin Board, and let's build the playbook for marketers.
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