I’m sure you’re all use to hosting contests and giveaways in your respective online communities as a way to boost activity and member morale, keep members engage and create compelling content. You pit each member against each other to see who can come up with the best “x” or the most “y.” I’m still all for that and community managers should still lean on this competitiveness as integral component to their community strategy.
This is the third installment for the Gamification of Online Communities series. See also:
- Gamification of Online Communities for Beginners
- Gamification of Online Communities – Advanced Edition
A great way to rally your community together is to hold competitions against other online communities. Nothing embodies the meaning of community when every member is charging after the same goal.
Find a competitor community or one that closely aligns with your product, function or service, contact their community manager (This is a great networking opportunity too) and work out the rules, guidelines, winning criteria and prizes the same way you would with any competition. As you can tell, this tactic is mutually beneficial for both communities.
As a follow up to Gamification of Online Communities for Beginners, I thought I’d take it a step further and provide a strategy for the more advanced communities that may be looking to keep up the competitive momentum.
Taking a lesson from fantasy sports, more notably, fantasy football because I’m a [American] football nut; let’s apply the same concept to online communities. Members form teams to compete against other teams within the same community. Using the built-in gaming mechanics of your community platform, the collective points achieved from each activity performed would determine the top leaders week-to-week, month-to-month. Heck, you could even replicate a full season with playoffs and a Super Bowl. This approach takes the meaning of social collaboration to a whole new level.
Nothing is worth doing unless it’s fun. At least that’s what I like to tell myself.
How do we make online communities fun? By introducing gaming mechanics for each activity a community members performs. They’re already baked into today’s online community platforms but may not be that obvious to you. They come in the form of points, status ranks, badges, progress bars, virtual currency and leader boards.
By making things competitive, you encourage members to engage in the desired behaviors and goals of your online community that would otherwise seem dull and unfulfilling.
Which gaming mechanics have you deployed on your community? Did you see an instant uptick in user-generated content and activities?
I caught the [New] episode of Parks and Recreation last night, “Pawnee Rangers.” The Pawnee Rangers are a spoof on the modern day Boy Scouts. Having a boys-only policy, Amy Poehler’s character, ‘Leslie Knope,’ goes off and starts her female version of the exclusive group, “The Pawnee Goddesses”
The episode immediately kicks off with Leslie awarding her Goddesses with badges of achievement; rather obscure and very niche badges at that. Seemingly, a badge for everything imaginable.
- Most Community Service badge
- Best Penguin Blog badge
- Flyest Hair Style badge
- Second Flyest Hair Style badge
Later in the episode:
- Cabin Refurbishment badge
- Best Pillow Fight badge [Gold, Silver, Bronze]
- Banging Hair day badge
I took these as a shot at diluting the value of the badging system. If everyone receives a badge just for the sake of completing any old task, then where’s the value? It’s the scarcity of the reward that makes it valuable. And that, I think, is what the show was trying to get across; our dependence on insignificant rewards just to inflate our egos for a temporary moment.
Make badging a sliver of your overall reward and incentive program mix for your online community. Leverage other gamification strategies like leader boards, point systems, progress bars, status rank.
If I can quote Gabe Zichermann for a second; “Gamification is not just throwing up shitty badges on your website.”
Now, I’m going to take a stab at creating my interpretation of ‘Flyest Hair Style’ badge.