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Gamification: the secret sauce behind wildly successful branded social communities

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Can you remember swelling with pride on seeing a “well done” sticker on an elementary school book report? Take a moment to recall how it feels (or how you imagine it would feel) when you receive a new belt in karate class from a sensei you deeply admire or your boss surprises you with a “waiter of the month” plaque after tallying up the latest round of diner response cards.

All of the above are forms of gamification. And each can be incredibly effective in generating  behaviors you want to see more of.

Using smart strategies to gamify participation in your branded social community is a no-brainer. For little or no outlay, you can earn more interaction, more social shares, more click-throughs, and ultimately, more money.

When designing your gamification strategy, it is important to understand the basic drivers that make it so effective. Once you’ve identified those drivers, it is simply a matter of customizing them to suit your particular niche.

Respect

Human beings are hard-wired to desire and derive pleasure from feeling respected, both by peers/colleagues and especially those they perceive to be in positions of power. Posts or personal emails from community leaders whose names users will instantly recognize are a good start. When a user reaches a certain number of posts, shares, or other criteria important to you, ensure that the whole community hears about it. Not only will that particular user feel respected, it will also generate desire among other members to work toward seeing a similar post with their name appearing prominently.

Recognition

Intangible but effective, customized titles or special designations for outstanding community members pack a lot of punch. Perhaps a halo appears on the avatar of community members who have donated to your nonprofit. Maybe a special graphic (e.g., a star with your company’s name ) becomes available for users to append to their sigs when they create a particularly popular post or one that has content you want to see more of. The idea make use a visible moniker to identify community members who contribute positively to your community.

Rewards

Psychologists have known for a very long time that rewards are incredibly powerful motivators. Intangible rewards can work wonders, as can more tangible goodies such as discounts on site merchandise or access to protected forums only available to a select few.

Gamifying your branded social community can unlock some pretty amazing rewards for you as a site owner. Get started today to discover it for yourself!