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How Games Can Help Businesses Succeed In The Era Of Social Media
Posted on June 28th 2011
Value of Gamification
The rise of social media has really pushed businesses to focus on customer engagement. In the era of pure mass-media, businesses could get away with trying to influence customer decisions through ads, or other forms of messaging. However to win in the era of social media, businesses need to use the medium to learn about their customers, their passions, and engage with them. This engagement must be consistent across the customer life-cycle with the objective of creating true customer value.
Games have always been known for their ability to engage people. This stems for their ability to create a strong sense of flow for the participants. In fact, games are the only power in the universe that we know of that can get people to do something not of their interest in a predictable way without having to employ force. What this means is that businesses now have a tool which can help them to get their customers engaged even without a pre-existing passion/ interest for the activity.
The best way for businesses to employ this tool is to use the core principles of games than build entire games. These principles when used in isolation or in combination to design anything is called gamification.
For a Business it it important to be able to have strong customer engagement across the entire customer life-cycle. Hence, this article will explore examples of how gamification is making various stages of the life-cycle more interesting/fun for customer and profitable for businesses.
The various stages of the customer life-cycle where game principles are already having an impact are:
- Creating Customer Awareness
- Drive Brand Engagement
- Nurturing Leads
- Managing Customer Experience
- Loyalty Programs
- Customer Support
Creating Customer Awareness
The Kidnap facebook game is a great way for travel portals to make the customer aware and consume information about various destinations in a really cool way. The game works as follows:
- The game challenges users to kidnap their friends to their favorite international hideout city.
- User have to answer a trivia question related to that city to escape from the hideout city.
- Players earn points for answering questions correctly, and advance levels; gain access to new methods on successfully completions of kidnaps.
The flow ensures that participants learn about various locations over the course of the game.
Another example is that of Snooth's Wine Rack. Snooth, the world’s largest wine site added a social layer called Wine Rack to its site, encouraging users to better discover and learn about new wine. Wine Rack uses game mechanics to encourage users to discover and taste more wines, providing incentives through rewards to share their wine experience and knowledge. The game helps Snooth's increase customer's wine comprehension and knowledge about their offerings.
Drive Brand Engagement
Jimmy Choo's trainer hunt campaign is a great example of how a brand can leverage appointment game dynamic to drive engagement around their products. The campaign had a real time treasure hunt in London powered by location service foursquare. The jimmy choo trainers were checked-in to different locations for short durations. Participants had to follow the campaign messaging (which also provide more information about the trainers) to track trainer locations. If participants checked-in location while the trainers were there, they would be rewarded with a trainer of choice.
The structure of the campaign was such that the brand was able to spread more information about their various trainers, and get people to engage around the brand.
The makers of the animation movie "Rio" wanted to create a marketing program to get more people excited about coming to watch the movie. So 20th Century Fox partnered with Chiquita to create a game like sweepstake called “Make Your Way To Rio”. They used Bunchball's Nitro platform was used to power the gamification of the Chiquita/Rio promotional Web site. Participants had to complete certain tasks—like watching a movie trailer, coloring pages, tweeting or posting to Facebook about the movie. The campaign also had an actual fun game where the player helped Blu, an endangered Macaw, get closer to his final destination in Rio de Janeiro, to meet his female counterpart Jewel. The sweepstake prizes included ringtones, music from the movie, Chiquita bananas, an Xbox and a grand-prize trip to Rio de Janeiro courtesy of American Airlines.
Managing Customer Experience
The smithsonian museum was looking for a way to make a tour of the place more existing and fun. So they partnered with game studio SCVNGR to create a trek game to gamify the tour of the 9 Smithsonian museums. The quest involved answering 70 questions the answers to which are available in the museums. This ensured that people who not only find the tours more engaging but also remember what they saw at the museum for some time. They also organized periodic time based challenge quests with special prizes like iPads, etc. The game made the experience of touring the museum more valuable for the participants.
Virgin America wanted to come up with a creative way to reward their frequent flying guests. They use the Topguest’s perks platform and the "appointment" game dynamic to offer customers frequent flyer points in exchange for their check-ins. Virgin America's frequent flyers could check-in to a designated Virgin America location( such as the airline's home base at San Francisco International Airport) and the Topguest application would notify them in real time that they've received elevate points as a reward. Guests could earn an additional 25 Elevate points per check-in and total potential of 50 extra points per flight , hence providing frequent flyers with a compelling way to earn real world rewards for virtual check-ins.
Experts Exchange is a online community dedicated to providing better IT assistance to the world using game dynamics. They way community functions is that users post questions and assign points to their queries and the site encourages technology experts to answer the queries and earn the allocated points. The platform has a leader-board to showcase experts and a progression system which allows people to become experts for different topics and eventually get added to the hall of fame. The platform uses badges, and avatars to recognize expertise on the site, which in turn can help them get freelance assignments.
Note: For any business to be successful with it's customers it needs to be innovative, and be able to leverage its employees. Hence there are two more critical areas worth looking at. They are enabling internal innovations, and creating a collaborative culture. Game principles can help companies achieve this as well. Below are some examples
The Work & Pensions Department in UK wanted to create a system to motivate civil servants and create an innovative cultural. So they internally launched Idea Street, a system that used game mechanics to aid the growth and support of new ideas. Idea Street employed a point system to incentivize employees to define and curate ideas; virtual currency was used as a reward in the system. Participants were also encourage to invest in an idea by buying shares which they could trade on a virtual stock market. The initiative was a great success and the overall winner worked in a remote district office and was rewarded by a letter from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions inviting him come and work in the central office.
Rypple is a social performance platform aimed at triggering collaboration and creating a better workplace. It uses elements of feedback from the game world to provide an innovative way for businesses to provide continuous, actionable feedback, coaching, and recognition to their teams. The system allows teams to define goals and individual tasks. The interface has visual cues like games which indicate progress on a more real time basis and hence provide the same instant and constant gratification that games provide. It also supports mutual appreciation by allowing users to privately or publicly thank someone for their assistance. Rypple has been used by companies like facebook and mozilla to help team member's learn and grow through a collaborative performance system.
These examples will hopefully inspire more businesses to seriously consider game principles as an integral part of their customer strategy and employ them creatively at every stage of the customer life-cycle.