Gamification, the tactic of applying game mechanics to traditional activities, has officially realized its self-fulfilling prophecy from early 2011 predictions of becoming the next big thing.
In March, we blogged about our experience at SXSW, noting Seth Priebatsch's belief that the next decade will likely see the game layer prevail over social media. Gamification is slated to lead a new era of incentives, giving users a way to interact with traditionally non-game activities.
If you think adding a game layer to a marketing experience will benefit your brand, there are a few ways to up the ante when incorporating it into your strategy.
The concept of gaming, rewards and incentives isn't new. Companies have been helping brands do it for years with sweepstakes, instant win games, loyalty solutions and more. But we are now shaping it in new ways, in new places and for newer audiences.
Making Health Fun
AARP launched a program this fall under its Brain Health channel, inviting site visitors to a photo memory challenge and offering a chance to win an Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad2, iTunes gift cards, Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Plus, and $250 toward nutrition counseling – all prizes that tie in to users' overall health and wellbeing. Games, according to health experts, can help ward off diseases like memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's.
"Our brain health games are some of the most popular on the site,” said Nataki Edwards, vice president, digital strategy & operations for AARP. “The Photo Recall Challenge brought together our users' love of games, as well as their interest in staying healthy and vibrant. We knew that a game challenging memory would work well with our audience and the results did not disappoint –more than 134K people entered this sweeps."
Think games are just for kids?
Games also are effective for repeated brand engagement, and a surprising gamer segment is the over-55 crowd, who enjoy playing games, puzzles and trivia in the online environment.
"It’s not surprising that the over-50 crowd loves games,” Edwards added. “Sudoku, solitaire and mah-jongg were all very popular games played in the 'real world' and now they can be enjoyed online as well."
Blue Cross Blue Shield gets in the game
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida was looking for new ways to encourage Floridians to live an active, healthy lifestyle.
"In February 2011, we refreshed our brand promise with three core tenets: affordability, access and community support,” said Kate Warnock, social media community manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF). “The Pursuit was created as a way to connect Floridians with nonprofit organizations who expand the reach of our brand promise and help more Floridians in their pursuit of health."
To drive awareness, a social media campaign highlighted three non-profit organizations on BCBSF's Facebook page, inviting Floridians to vote for the organization that should win the monthly mash-up. Each monthly winner was awarded $3,000, while each of the runners-up received $1,000.
A leaderboard posting the monthly winners put visibility behind the initiative, showing which organizations were benefiting from users' votes, as well as the total amount donated to date.
Don't think gaming aligns with your audience?
Maybe that's a perfect reason that it does. Gaming by nature is fun, interesting and even competitive. What audience doesn't want to be captivated? Rather than using the same old tactics to convince, persuade, and educate, reprogram and think about the entertainment factor.
The questions every brand should think out loud are, "Is my brand providing organic value to the consumer?" and, if not, "Can we at least make their experience interesting so they spend more time with us?"
Whether or not your brand marketing aligns with a true gamification strategy, remember that in today's world, the consumer is always assessing “what's in it for me.” If your brand, service, or organization can provide extra value, you'll be sure to lock in their attention.