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?
Showing off your loyalty towards a brand takes quite a bit of dedication. With the [not-so] recent introductions of location-based services (LBS) apps like foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook and Yelp, we’re all guilty of “checking-in” to our favorite venues and broadcasting that action to our community of followers.
The drive at first was purely the novelty of the service. Nothing like it existed. But to keep members interested, the services needed to evolve and evolve quickly. Introducing gaming elements like Leaderboards, Mayorships, Dukes, Duchesses, badges and points systems was a no-brainer. The competitiveness, rewards and deals drove growth of the services. But I find myself less and less compelled to continue checking-in and maintain the status levels I’ve achieved at each frequented location. I have to admit, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve capitalized on a reward or deal. Which makes me ask the question; has the market been saturated with heavy-handed check-in members to the point where status levels are no longer obtainable? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve held the same 10 Mayorships on foursquare for as long as I can remember and that number rarely ever changes +/-1.
Will I continue to check-in? Sure. But it’s definitely not for the reasons when I first set out using the services. It’s now about what’s next. When I was younger, I worked at a local grocery store. At the beginning of my shift, I would have to punch my time card using this monstrous industrial looking clock. And that’s what LBS feels like to me at this point in time. I’m punching a clock out of necessity and not for the fun-ness factor. It’s kind of like watching HBO’s original series Entourage. The stories and acting get harder to watch season after season, but you stick in there because you have to see how Vince’s career ends.
What do LBS shops have up their sleeves? What’s the next evolution of the service? Which LBS apps do you use? Where do you see the industry going?