Making an online community is easy. Keeping it relevant and engaged is the difficult part. Most users join a community in an instant but may not contribute or be active in it. If there is not enough activity in a community, the chances of it being successful are low. It may not sustain in the ever-changing online environment. Here is where gamification comes to play.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the process of adding elements related to games traditionally to a non-game environment. In our case, it means the online community. It is a nova way of increasing engagement in the community by giving its members various opportunities and incentives. It creates a sense of competition. All this motivates people of the community to participate.
For a community to be successful, gamification needs to be a continuous part of its engagement strategy. Without it, your community will turn stagnant and eventually perish.
Humans have an inbuilt desire to compete. We all are willing to work for rewards. Everyone wants to be an achiever, in any way possible. That is why gamification in today’s digital world works.
It can also be used as a way to monitor the community and categorize members on the basis of their participation.
In simple words, gamification is the process of recognizing and rewarding those members of the community that keep it active and vibrant.
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Typically, the kinds of gamification used online are:
1. Earning points/rank:
Communities can provide points on the basis of an activity a user does online and distribute ranks when they accomplish a goal. It can be gold, silver, or bronze. It provides the members with a designation that is mentioned along with their username. It can be personalized in a way that fits the community.
Points can be given for various activities that a member does. It can be anything from asking questions, providing solutions, to commenting on posts and blogs regularly.
It is paramount to note the targets that members have to meet should not be vague. The more specific they are, the easier it is for members to achieve them.
2. Earning badges/titles:
Badges represent an achievement unlocked by a member. It is attained and earned. A user has to work to achieve it. The best thing about a badge or a title is that it can be showcased on the user’s profile for everyone to see. It depicts a specialty of a particular member. It is one of the most common gamification elements.
A community should ensure that badges and titles are named in a creative manner and should not be given common names. Badges can also be given based on the behaviors of members. Holding a badge contributes highly to a community and this feature should be used diligently.
3. Customizing avatars:
Most websites online have avatars. Avatars are an identity of the user. Upon fulfilling a certain condition, communities can allow its users to customize avatars as per their choice. They can design it however they want it. Such a digital representation allows the members to identify and interact with each other.
Avatars bridge the gap between the screen and the actual world. It gives a touch of reality to the community. It is a way for the members to express themselves in an online community. It is also a fascinating way to stimulate conversations between members.
The most interesting fact of any game is to have a leaderboard. To increase engagement, communities can also define leaderboards. They can be weekly, monthly or as per their preferences. A leaderboard can be for different aspects. To be on top of the leaderboard is an achievement most members would like to have.
A crucial thing to remember is that leaderboards should not be central to the community. It should be used as positive reinforcement.
It is a dynamic way of keeping members engaged in the community.
Some key points to remember:
Gamification needs to be designed as per each community. What works for one community may not necessarily work for another community. It is important to know the kind of community you are trying to build and the kind of members that are going to be a part of it.
By knowing your members, the community can anticipate their needs and provide them with relevant gamification techniques. Greater interaction between members leads to greater trust among them.
To ensure that the members of the community work well together, groups can be formed and tasks can be given accordingly. They can be given points as a whole to forge relationships between them. The purpose is that every kind of engagement should also lead to interaction between members.
For members, understanding what the community aspires to achieve with gamification is important. Merely adding gamification content will not suffice. It needs to be related to the community. Overall, it should enhance the user’s experience and give it new ways of staying engaged. Whatever kind is used, it should be simple and effective.
Another important thing to consider is that gamification is a part of the whole community experience; it is not the community as a whole. It needs to be integrated evenly in the community. If different kinds of gamification are in the user’s sight all the time, it can easily decrease their motivation to be a part of the community, take away the whole purpose of forming a community and drop engagement levels.
In a nutshell, gamification = engagement.
Gamification is a powerful tool that is currently not used to its full potential. When properly implemented, gamification can do wonders for your community. One thing to remember is that it should be used to connect the members. It should not end up having a negative connotation. Everything that is done to increase the engagement in the community, should be done with the motive of taking the community forward.
More engagement means members will be interested in the community and stay loyal. It leads to retention and provides a lifetime value to the community and the members.
So, get going! Make your community peppy with different kinds of gamification that suit your needs. Reward your members and celebrate them!