4 Tips for Keeping Your Gamified Community Motivated

Shannon Duffy is the president of marketing at Data.com, a Salesforce.com company. Follow her @sullytoduffy.

Everyone agrees: Gamification is hot. So hot that the market is expected to hit $2.8 billion in revenue by 2016. Naturally, companies are taking a long look at how to capitalize on this trend.

If you’ve done your homework and found that gamification is right for your business, the next step is enticing your community to become deeply involved. Here are four tips to get you started.


1. Define Motivation


Ultimately, people play games for a chance to win, but winning means different things to different communities. The goal of a gamified community should be to make as many members meet their definition of success as possible.

For example, a community may have a group responsible for adding a large amount of content to the community and another group concerned with confirming the content’s accuracy. These groups have disparate needs and goals so they will not be motivated by the same things. Any successful community will evaluate the individual needs of groups and determine how to best serve each one.

Bottom line: Know what motivates the various groups in your community and feed those motivations.


2. Apply Incentives


Once you know what motivates your community you can provide the right incentives to get users involved. A ranking system is important to many communities, but new or emerging players might be more invested in a monthly ranking contest. Applying goals, badges, and titles is also effective. In fact, it’s similar to how Xbox 360 has found success with achievements. This approach generally pushes members to want to go the extra mile to advance their standing in the community. For communities with a more professional focus, developing incentives around access to productivity tools is a good way to create engagement and help members reach business goals.

Bottom line: Make rewards attainable, regular, relevant, and open to community groups.


3. Create MVPs


Every successful community has a small number of members that carry the torch. They are the most invested and active members. They’ve contributed so much that they have attained a sense of ownership around the community. Since they feel like the community is their own, these are the loyalists that you can count on to maintain rules, champion the game, both off and online, and constantly contribute content and competition.

Create specific groups for these MVPs that include special recognition and status in the community. This rewards their efforts and also makes them role models for other players. Retailers have done a particularly good job of rewarding loyalty with MVP status. For example, Gilt Noir, an ultra-exclusive membership level within the Gilt Groupe membership, gave its members dibs on high-end sales. This encouraged other Gilt Groupe members to try to reach this elite status.

Bottom line: Create an MVP program to encourage continued involvement from your most active and important members.


4. Avoid Trouble


Make sure to create community guidelines with a crystal clear code of conduct. This code should transparently demonstrate how players can achieve the goals they’re looking to meet without breaking the rules. It should also be clear that breaking the rules has a penalty.

As a manager, you should also always be aware of player activity and discussion board fodder that may raise flags. If you see a problem brewing, interact with the player or players and address the issue before it disrupts the community.

Bottom line: Define rules, make sure the community plays by them, and if a problem starts to take shape, address it as soon as possible.

How do you use gamification to motivate communities?

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