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Take Advantage of the Gamification Wave

Photo courtesy of freespamfree via flickr.

Photo courtesy of freespamfree via flickr.



This post is by Gina Joseph, social media community manager at Cision.

Engagement—it’s the holy grail for marketers, PR pros and journalists these days.  Which is why gamification makes so much sense. Gamification is just what it sounds like—the use of gaming techniques to promote engagement with a brand or outlet. The concept has been around for a long time (think mileage rewards from credit card companies) but technology and social media has enhanced the process.

Foursquare is an example of gamification meeting social media, with thousands of people “checking in,” earning badges and receiving rewards for being loyal customers. GetGlue is a similar structure aimed toward the entertainment television industry, and so on. So what are some things you should know if you’re considering getting into the game?

Know your audience

That’s always the first step, right? Many businesses, both B2C and B2B, have seen results from utilizing game dynamics. One case study by Bunchball references, who used the gamification solutions company to improve the number of orders from college students (their target audience), as well as branch out beyond their current customer base. Bunchball created “order challenges” and “foodie points” for the site, increasing the returning customers by 15 to 20 percent. This worked in part because knew college students were a perfect match for game-like challenges and food discounts. Gamification may not be for every company or business, depending on the culture and wants of the audience.

Gamification for news

It’s not just for marketers anymore, either. The Record Searchlight, a daily newspaper in Redding, Calif., partnered with Bunchball to implement gamification for its site,, back in 2011. Readers were invited to engage by earning points by just viewing or commenting on stories, and gained trophies by increased participation.

In an article by Ken Doctor for Nieman Journalism Lab, Record Searchlight editor Silas Lyons said: “We’re not trying to solve an audience problem — we’re trying to solve an engagement problem. The reader is being rewarded for consuming, sharing, commenting, and finding insight.”

Molly Kittle, VP of Digital Strategy for Bunchball sees other outlets catching on in the future.

“We’ve seen with how gamification encourages tremendous engagement with readers,” she said. “We’ll see even more news organizations using gamification now that it’s starting to make sense from a business perspective.”

Make sure your design and metrics are well thought-out

To create successful game dynamics for your company, much thought and effort is required. Simply creating some pointless badges won’t cut it. After all, look at the ultimate purpose: creating an environment that increases customer engagement and draws eyes to your brand. Figuring out the technology you will use, coming up with metrics that will accurately measure progress, and creating a design that will be user-friendly for your target audience are all equally important pieces of the puzzle.

About Lisa Denten

Lisa Denten is the Social Media Manager of Cision U.S., where she leads social strategy, coordinates the blog editorial calendar and manages public relations campaigns. She regularly hosts Cision webinars, was chosen as a #FollowFriday guest on industry blog Spin Sucks, and has spoken on panels for Inbound Marketing Summit and Publicity Club of Chicago. She worked in the newspaper industry before joining Cision in 2008. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @lisaml15.

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