Every marketer dreams of customers who visit their company’s website and tell all their friends to do the same. Is this an impossible dream? Or can you make your website so much fun that your fans want to tell all their friends to go, look around and join in the party?

What is gamification?

Gamification is when companies add game-design elements such as competition or problem-solving to their website or social communities to make them more fun and engaging and prompt users to come back again and again.

The trend of gamification is set to rise: according to a recent report by Gartner, by 2015 “more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.” The same report predicted that gamification strategies for marketing and customer retention would become “as important as Facebook, eBay or Amazon.”

The rise of platforms and applications to enable gamification, such as Foursquare, SCVNGR, Badgeville, BigDoor and Bunchball, have made it easier for brands to structure campaigns and make game-playing social. This means that customers who are already fans can communicate their enthusiasm to their networks.

Not just about gimmickry

There’s got to be more on offer than just fun and games: No company will last long if their customers are not genuinely interested in their product. What you are looking for is to communicate customer satisfaction, and that comes from having a great product and customer service attitude to begin with.

But if you know you have customers who are real fans of your product and service, gamification could be the key to sharing their delight with your brand to their networks.

Enhance your image and inspire fans

For brands that are already known for their quirky side, gamification can be a great tool for spreading the word about your products. Breakfast cereals company Dorset Cereals have always had a fun, alternative ethos, so turning loyal customers into brand advocates through gamification is a natural step for them. Their website is fun to use and has a large section where fans can come to play and compete for prizes. Users can win prizes instantly or else earn tokens in a piggy bank that gives them chances to win the big prize in the monthly draw. Tokens can also be won in mini-games that pit the user against the clock to do fun challenges, and users can gain extra tokens by recommending friends to join and so build up a leader board. The games can be shared easily with social networks as well as building a button into your own website. The games and prizes are all strongly themed to incorporate the ethos of ethical, healthy, hip, alternative living, which works really well for the brand’s image as a whole, as well as inspiring brand loyalty and encouraging fans to spread the word about the company and the website to their friends.

Build your community

Nike is a brand known for its fans’ brand loyalty, and they have built gamification into their online community to reward loyalty and encourage effort. Nike+ is a community where friends can challenge themselves and each other by using technology to enhance the training experience. Users can log on and challenge friends, share success, set goals, train smarter, improve performance and track activities using the Nike+ app and compatible devices. All activities logged contribute towards NikeFuel, and you can compete against friends and share success on social networks as well as unlocking rewards, trophies and surprises to motivate you further. The result is a fully-integrated experience that makes training fun and social. The community is loyal and they share their enthusiasm socially to advocate Nike’s program to their networks.

Rather than using gamification services for a one-off program or campaign, look at incorporating gamification elements into your current influencer/advocacy/loyalty networks, offering the members of your exclusive communities a special opportunity to engage with you in meaningful and fun ways.

At BRANDERATI, as we help our clients build sustainable advocacy/influencer networks, we focus on the power of gamification. Since we believe that organic brand love is more powerful that paid brand love, we strive to include custom gamification elements into the platform and into every relevant interaction on the platform to ensure sustainable engagement. We offers the ability to reward active participants with points and badges that are brand-specific, as well as one-on-one recognition from the brand that is easy to amplify externally, and, if relevant, recognition from their fellow network members.

With some creative thinking your brand can inspire fans to share their experiences online and turn customers into brand advocates through gamification techniques.

Ekaterina Walter is a co-founder and CMO at BRANDERATI. She is a social media trailblazer and an author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”. A recognized business and marketing thought leader, she is a sought-after international speaker and a regular contributor to leading-edge print and online publications.

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One Response to “How gamification can unlock your brand advocacy potential”

  1. David says:

    This is interesting, nice article.

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