By Shannon Abram, Relationship Manager at The Community Roundtable.
Gamification is a hot topic in TheCR Network, and among community managers at large. In fact, – nearly half of our surveyed communities in the State of Community Management 2014 employed some form of gamification (and more than 60% of best-in-class communities do). As gamification tools become more common, more community managers are looking to tap into gamification as part of their efforts to increase engagement. It’s more than just “turning it on.” Everything from how you structure rewards, badges and levels to general usage patterns can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your effort.
Our Community Manager Handbook provided best practices for anyone thinking about starting a gamification initiative in their community. First things first – before you launch a gamification initiative, think about more than just technology you’ll use. Ask yourself these critical questions to set yourself up for success.
What are your goals?
Be specific with the behaviors you are trying to incentivize in the community. Simply“increasing engagement” is not enough. Make sure your goals are attainable – take into account your community maturity, user profiles and current engagement patterns.
What are your levels?
Setting levels based on the business value you connect to certain actions can provide a rationale for your system. Using community members to help level set can also make sense—after all, if they are playing the game, you may want to give them a stake in the rules.
How does it fit your culture?
Will your levels, goals and point system resonate equally well throughout the community?
How will you tweak—and exit?
Every gamification effort will need tweaks and eventually a reboot or a reset. Make sure you have plenty of time during after launch to evaluable your successes and failures. Soliciting input on how a gamification program worked can even increase engagement and strength bonds with active users.
What about your data?
Gamification efforts can provide a lot of rich data on activity and interactions. What will you measure? How will you look at it? Don’t forget to plan for, collect and present the data that will highlight your program to stakeholders.
Have you had gamification success in your community? Or did your efforts fail to level up? Looking for more gamification ideas? Check out a case study on gamification strategy at UBM in The Community Manager Handbook.