Dos and Don’ts of Community Gamification

June 7, 2022

Co-Founder @Talkbase

Companies across sectors have learned that gamification can improve the engagement of their members. By applying elements of games, communities can also significantly improve interactions between their members through friendly and competitive behaviors with appropriate rewards.

Community gamification won’t be complicated if rolled out effectively. As several companies and organizations have found out, poorly designed gamification efforts without a clear system of rewards can easily fail. To help you out, here’s a list of dos and don’ts for gamification in your community management.

Don’t overcomplicate it! It’s easy to go the rabbit hole based on assumptions when you could have done something simple – Lizzie LaCour

Community gamification dos

Think beyond cash

The number one rule in community gamification is to think beyond cash rewards. Offering cash can take away the element of fun which is crucial for gamification. It can also make the process look transactional and needlessly competitive. What you want in gamification is empowerment, organic interactions, and collaborative relationships.

Use the SAPS framework

Status, access, power, and stuff or SAPS is the right framework that gets members motivated to actively participate in gamification. What’s important here is that cash or stuff is the last on the list. In fact, that’s the least desired of all rewards. Status and access are high on the list since they confer public recognition and exclusive experiences.

Call out for rewards for 3 weeks

There’s a golden rule in community building activities: Frequency beats intensity. What you want is gamification to be part of your community’s culture. For that, you would need to call out for rewards every three weeks or so. This also gives more opportunities for people to win prizes.

Intentional badges

To put it simply, your badges should be aspirational. Far too often, communities end up giving generic and bland badges, which would discourage people from participating. What you need are intentional badges that are stylish and very much in sync with the values of the organization.

Have a reasonable budget

For community games to be successful, they would need the right funding for both the activities and the rewards. Since it’s a core aspect of community management, be persistent with your CFO until you get the right budget.

Do your research

If this is the first time you’re holding community games and events, you should brainstorm to find interesting ideas. Make it a collaborative effort and involve everyone. Search for vendors who can supply you with badges and other awards at reasonable rates.

Add tiers to games

A flat structure can make it dull. The reason why people like games is because there is a chance of progression to the next stage. In community gamification, try to incorporate different tiers with the appropriate rewards.

Personalize your badges

Why go for uninspiring and irrelevant badges when you can personalize them and add meaning to the winners? This will also ensure that your badges get shared with family and friends and even on social media.

Create content out of events

You can turn successes in the community into content. This lets you celebrate those winners on social media. That process will also allow you to create more content or repurpose snapshots or excerpts to be included in your content calendar.

Don’t make assumptions about what's gonna motivate people and don’t underestimate the power of access to the leadership of the company like coffee with the CEO, or with an SME. – Tristan Lombard

Community gamification don’ts

Not including onboarding

For any community to be vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming, its new members should be aware of its broader framework and fundamental principles. That’s why company leaders and managers should explain the rules of the community - rules of the game if you will - to new members.

Overcomplicating gamification

Remember, the purpose of gamification is to make it fun and easy for everyone. So, don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple and more people will be interested in participating in your community events.

Not providing enough resources

If you don’t have enough funds to give the right rewards, your community gamification will under-deliver. This is why it’s so important for leaders to completely support and lead the program.

Assuming what will motivate people

While this is true for all organizations and companies, whenever there is a diverse group, it can be a bigger problem. Just because someone likes a particular reward doesn’t mean someone else, like them or unlike them, would prefer it. The good news is that with proper feedback, you would have a better idea of what motivates people.

Underestimating the power of access

Access to the leadership of the company could be high on the list for most people. A lunch with the CEO might turn out to be an invaluable experience for the individual and would inspire others to emulate their success.

TL;DR → Don’t build programs on top of your community games. Build great programs that get enhanced by gamification. – Andrew Claremont

Community management can immensely benefit from gamification. With this list of dos and don’ts, community gamification will have greater chances of success. What’s more, community management will also be easier when you know what works and what doesn’t.

Klara Losert
Co-Founder @Talkbase

June 7, 2022

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