Engagement is one of the most important aspects in creating a thriving and lively online community, and a constant flow of content is the key. However, a strong tempo of surveys, journals, or other activities isn’t going to keep even your most active members coming back. The “if you build it, they will come” mindset is a common pitfall with online communities, as most managers don’t commit to members beyond the activities they complete. It’s important for online community managers to create an environment their members will want to come back to, and gamification can do just that. Gamifying may seem like a hefty task, but it’s really as simple as creating small details in your online community that incentivize your active members, spark competitive thought, and make each user feel special. Keep reading for our pro tips to gamify your community.
1. You’ll Prosper with Points
The best place to start is awarding point values and rewarding members for completing activities. For quantitative activities, like surveys, you should always align the amount of time members are spending to complete the activity with the amount of points the activity is worth. For example – something that takes 10 minutes to complete should have a higher points value than a quick 5 question multiple choice poll. Using the number of questions or basing the point value off of an estimated time to complete the activity can be a foolproof way to stay consistent. But as we all know, time is money so be sure to be consistent. You don’t want members to feel slighted after the fact, so make sure the points value is described before they start the activity. You may even want to consider displaying how long the activity should take, so the member can decide if they have the time to finish.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Make Them Work
For more qualitative activities, like journals or discussion boards, it’s more beneficial to base point values on a word count. For example, putting a requirement on qualitative activities like “your response needs to be 100 words or more in order to earn points” will motivate members to give more detailed and in-depth responses. When gamifications is automated, someone who types “I don’t know”, may earn the full point value. At Leflein, we tend to award points manually for each response so that we ensure our clients are only receiving quality answers.
3. Sweeten the Pot
But points are meaningless without some kind of incentive to cash in and that’s why having a rotating amount of rewards and a diverse webshop can be a game-changer. In fact, rewards are the biggest motivator to get your members coming back for more – so make sure it’s something they want. In fact, Leflein frequently polls its members to see what types of incentives they’d want to see included in the webshop. We’ve offered a full spectrum of rewards including gift cards, exclusive content, merchandise, and signed memorabilia.
4. Money Doesn’t Have to Be the Only Thing Talking
Fostering a competitive environment in your community can also be a driving force for members to participate more. Giving them an opportunity to get the edge on other members and have a unique profile within the community. That’s why creating custom badges that members can earn from completing activities and member ranks that allow members to rank up as they rack up points should be a part of your community. Giving members the ability to earn badges not only gives them a satisfying mark that shows their dedication and effort, but can also give them the recognition they deserve. Not to mention, creating custom badges helps gives your community its own identity and can even give your members that same feeling.
5. Give Them a VIP Experience
Having everyone earn different badges for completing different activities gives them a visual layout that shows other members how special they are. It’s also important to give members the opportunity to earn exclusive badges so that they can flaunt their uniqueness. The phrase “the first five members to complete this earn a special badge” can go a long way and offers more of an incentive for members to complete activities faster. One last aspect can also drive a member’s inner competitor and strive for uniqueness-member rankings. Having a points and badge leaderboard can help members see where they stack up and drive them to vie for that #1 spot. It also helps to give them titles that signifies their progress and gives them a rewarding feeling of moving up in the ranks. Just having the ability for members to rank up from being a “Community Student” to a “Community Superstar” will give them a sense of accomplishment and drive them to be more engaged within the community.
Like I said at the start, engagement is an important factor in having a thriving online community and that’s why having more gamification options can make members more engaged. Just adding these simple features can make your community a lot livelier and boost the amount of activity in your community. So, if you’re struggling to boost your survey completions or just want to spike engagement from your members, gamifying your community is the way to go.
By Tom Moore
Leflein Community Manager