Gamification: A Social Media Trend That Predates The Internet

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Gamification is one of the most talked about social media trends, but is it right for your business? The truth is applying elements of game play to other areas of activity has been around long before the internet, but the renewed emphasis on points, badges, and other techniques is cause to reconsider. After all, in an increasingly crowded cyberspace, consumers are becoming more selective about how the spend their time online. If you can make it more fun and rewarding, people are more inclined to stick around and invite others to join them. The key it so incorporate gamification in a meaningful way. Before you implement a leader board or formulate challenges, you need to envision how they will genuinely engage users and boost your online profile.

Boost your online profile

The best way to do this is to review the five most common applications of game play and identify ways they correlate to your business. They are:

  • Points
  • Badges
  • Levels
  • Leader boards
  • Challenges

All of these revolve around the concept of achievement and can convert into a form of currency. If you are trying to aggregate user contributions, you want to foster a sense of personal accomplishment and confer status upon a user. Elevating an individual’s public profile can be a major incentive for someone to spend time and energy on your site. Comment sections and review sites frequently acknowledge the quantity and the quality of their users’ posts with special designations, usually in the form of titles and badges. This encourages return visits, more time spent on the site, and a higher quality of discourse. It has the added benefit of drawing others’ attention to how much someone engages with your site, which reinforces your authority and underscores the value of your content. Occasionally, sites will also add value by associating a user’s earned status with discounts and other benefits.


If you are trying to encourage purchases, you should devote your attention to game mechanics that can translate into actual currency or discounts. Anyone who has participated in a frequent flyer program or has used a loyalty card knows how motivating it can be to accumulate miles or points that will eventually be redeemed for goods or services. It is perhaps the most successful way to engender brand loyalty and construct mutually beneficial partnerships with other businesses. If you are pursuing these options, it is important to embed the ability to purchase points as well as earn them. This reinforces the sense of worth and the actual utility. If someone can clearly associate a dollar amount to a certain quantity of points, quite simply, they will value them more. Also, you do not want a lack of points to be a barrier to commerce. Instead, allow individuals to supplement what they have accumulated through their activities. They will be quicker to redeem them and increasingly compelled to earn more.

As you can see, gamfication is a great way to direct the behavior of users. If you can clearly define what you are trying to incentivize, it will be easy to formulate avenues of game play that will offer the most enticing reward. Do not get carried away, however, and, if this first foray into applying the principles of gaming to your business model, start small. You can always expand upon and refine your efforts, but if you reach too far, too fast, you will create a frustrating user experience that will undermine your efforts. Ultimately, gamification works because it appeals to motivations that long predate the internet. Interjecting a sense of fun and offering rewards will always engage people, no matter what form they take.


Gamification Is One Of The Most Talked About Social Media Trends, But Is It Right For Your Business? Only If Game Mechanics Are Incorporated In A Meaningful Way. Learn more about social media optimzation at Wpromote.

Image credit: cambodia4kidsorgDarren Foreman

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