In Mark Twain’s classic novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” Tom convinces his friends to whitewash a fence for him simply by making it seem like an enjoyable activity. Today, Mark Twain’s humorous depiction of human behavior touches upon the heart of gamification. In this article you will learn what gamification is, how it is applied by current businesses and how it can be applied to increase attendance, engagement and attendee feedback at your next corporate or special event.
Gamification is defined as the application of game mechanics and game design principles in non-game contexts. Gamification techniques have actually been here for a very long time. For example scout merit badges, credit card rewards programs, and frequent flier points all use a reward system that is integral to game mechanics, and gives a sense of reward as a marketing/retention tactic.
With the advance in technology companies are now using gamification techniques in increasingly innovative forms and for a myriad of uses. For example, Target Retail Stores, has installed a gaming system in cashiers’ checkout stations that scores them on their speed and accuracy over multiple transactions and rewards high performance. Siemens, a global electronics company, uses a game called Plantville, which stars Pete the Plant Manager, to train managers using simulations of tasks such as plant designing, buying equipment, and hiring employees.
Social Media Gamification
Social media gamification adds a social element to more current conventional gaming strategies. For example, Nike has turned a solitary sport like running into a social game with its mobile phone app Nike+ tag. This app connects people and allows them to tag friends, participate in challenges and win trophies. It keeps track of running speed, duration and allows runners to compete with their friends. Nike greatly enhanced its brand value, engagement and exposure by providing a useful app that turns exercise into fun!
Enhance Participation in Corporate Events with Social Media Gamification
Corporate events can sometimes be perceived as dull and tedious affairs. Event professionals can use social media gamification techniques to stimulate participation and engagement in an event.
Volkswagen Brazil used a Twitter Zoom contest campaign that became the most talked about event in the country. The firm funded the Planeta Terra Music Festival in Sao Paulo to promote their new car. Free tickets were hid all over the city; the locations were given on a web site using Google Maps. However, the map was completely zoomed out. As more people tweeted using the #foxatplanetaterra hash tag, the map zoomed in. Once the location of a ticket was clear, it was available for the first person who reached it.
IBM recently hosted an event where they gave prizes to people who took pictures of themselves with specific “IBM Champions” who are powerful Twitter influencers and posted it using the official hashtag. This not only created a fun game for attendees, but also prompted high powered “tweeters” in the industry to re-tweet, most probably citing other official hashtags. This will then be re-tweeted by their followers and migrated to other social platforms, assisting in the viral nature of the event in the social space.
Here are three gamification ideas along with real word examples that can help in corporate event planning.
1. Use Contests to Generate Buzz about the Event
A contest or a challenge is the oldest form of gamification. Use social media platforms to hold creative contests that attendees will participate in using social sweepstakes platforms such as Rafflecopter.
Here are some popular ideas for contests:
- Ask event attendees to put up photographs of themselves at the event on their Facebook Timeline @CompanyFacebookPage and reward the 5 best photographs.(Optionally, you could give them specific places, poses ect.. to do these pictures in, thus giving you more ability to mold and shape the end product to enhance your end goals)
- Have a “hunt” at the event location with clues being put up on the events official blog every hour, and blasted through social media and official event hashtags.
- Put up simple quizzes about the topics discussed during the event on the company Facebook page; reward the first ten attendees who answer correctly with post-event treats. (you could run this similarly on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+)
Event professionals should ensure that the contests have clear rules, clear score keeping processes, clear explanations, tangible rewards and event branded rewards.
2. Incorporate Social Media Games into the Entertainment
- Use an event branded hashtag to let the DJ know what music to play, use that same hashtag to give song specific dance moves – have the DJ awarding in real time the winners of the “Twitter Dance Off”
- Hire an Improv comedy group, and use real time social media to take “skit requests” and stream it online for larger brand reach.
- Have a “QR Hunt” where specific areas of the event have QR codes hidden, that once scanned give hints, or register attendees into a drawing for prizes.
3. Maintain Leader boards and Reward Employee Participation
Social media gamification can be used as a wider, year-round strategy to encourage employees to participate in skill-building and relationship-building events. Making the event itself a game-based activity will ensure greater interest and participation. Employees can be asked to track their participation in professionally significant events on their public profiles on Linkedin, Facebook, and Google+ or on internal social networking platforms.
Different levels of badges or reward points can be assigned; for example employees who present a paper in a seminar or even participate in a post-presentation discussion can be given additional reward points. Employees who have a high level of participation in events over a long period or in a specific event can be given rewards such as gift coupons, memorabilia, or even a free ticket for a skill-building workshop. Special points can be given when an entire team attends an event. This helps to build your brand credibility utilizing employees.
Using social media games and quizzes to screen participants for recruitment drives is also a great use. For example, Marriott Hotels created an online social hotel game, much like Farmville, where players are involved in running a hotel to generate interest in jobs within the hospitality industry.
Most importantly think about each one of these above strategies, as not only a way to build attendance or event engagement, but a way to build a relationship either by email or social info grab, to keep the conversation going with attendees long after the event ends. The best approach is to think outside the box and use creative strategies best suited to the events goals and attendees.