Terminology
Gamification

Online Community Gamification: How to Gamify Online Spaces

Online community gamification

Gamification in online communities

As you might expect, gamification refers to the process of adding gaming elements to something in order to make the experience feel more like a game for the user.
Online community gamification is an effective strategy to increase engagement in users because it makes the experience more exciting.
When it boils down, gamification is motivation. But what exactly qualifies as gamification?

What is gamification?

You’ve probably come across gamification without even realizing it. Gamification has infiltrated almost every industry, and it exists in various forms through social media, health and fitness apps, or even amidst gaming communities themselves.
The technical definition of gamification is the application of gameplay elements to other activities, especially as a marketing technique. While the techniques can vary between different online communities, the basic premise and overarching strategies are generally the same.

Gamification

the application of gameplay elements to other activities, especially as a marketing technique.

Top gamification strategies for online communities

Although there are generally right and wrong ways to gamify your online community, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to gamification. However, if you want to add a game-like element to your online space, here are some top gamification strategies.

Appealing to the collectors

Some of your community members will identify as collectors. They enjoy collecting things, whether that be coins, cards, achievements, awards, or even followers.
When you appeal to the collectors in an online community, you might develop badges that members can earn by completing tasks that contribute to the community in a meaningful way.

Rewarding engagement and loyalty

When you’re at a carnival or theme park, what draws you into those difficult-to-win games? That’s right — prizes. And in online communities, prizes are still valued even when they’re not a jumbo stuffed animal.
In online communities, you might see unique rewards for specific achievements regarding engagement and loyalty. This could involve an upgraded user rank that offers perks, cosmetic rewards, access to exclusive areas, or a points system.

Frequent & easily achievable goal states

Another gamification strategy you can add to your online community is a ranking system. When creating levels or ranks, it’s important to set frequent goal states. Especially in the beginning, easily achievable goal states will help hook members and encourage them to rise within the ranks.
Frequent and simple goal states allow users to feel a sense of progress as they work towards a goal.

Special status for top members

While some community members enjoy gamification for the satisfaction of completing a collection, earning a prize, or seeing progress, others are interested in status — and status symbols work especially well with this group.
Members can prove elite status through badges on their profiles, and some also enjoy viewing their status on a leaderboard. Leaderboards work especially well in gaming communities, and they can be split into all-time high-scores and weekly, monthly, or yearly high-scores.
While some community members enjoy gamification for the satisfaction of completing a collection, earning a prize, or seeing progress, others are interested in status.

Examples of strategies existing online communities use to gamify user experience

So, what does gamification look like in practice? It’s not all fun and games.

Appealing to the elite with high scores

Grammarly appeals to users who enjoy knowing they have elite status within the app. This spellchecking and grammar extension tells users where they stand in relation to other users. Knowing that you’ve used more unique words than 95% of users can make you feel a sense of achievement and importance.
If that encourages a user to stick around, it pays to make someone feel special.
High scores in Grammarly
Source: grammarly.com

Onboarding achievements

LinkedIn set an example for many other social media sites through their profile progress bar.
Successful onboarding is often one of the most difficult hurdles a company must jump when bringing a new individual into an online community. But, with a progress bar that marks profile completion status, users complete tasks such as adding a profile picture and connecting with colleagues much faster.
The incomplete progress marker incentivizes users to finish — which is better for the community as a whole.
Profile progress bar in LinkedIn
Source: linkedin.com

Rewards points

Rewarding users is the most common type of gamification that you’ll see when shopping with retail stores. Think of a punch card that gives you one free item after you purchase nine or a points program from your favorite fashion retailer.
Successful onboarding is often one of the most difficult hurdles a company must jump when bringing a new individual into an online community. But, with a progress bar that marks profile completion status, users complete tasks such as adding a profile picture and connecting with colleagues much faster.

Use gamification to enhance user experience in your online community

Be mindful that every online community will have a different approach to gamification, and what works for one community may not work for another. However, if you apply these basic concepts in your online space, you can feel confident that you’re taking a step towards a better and more engaged community.

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