October 12, 2017
External communities are a curious thing. Why does a user repeatedly return to a community that they aren't being paid to or required to participate in? If it's not an obligation, why do they choose to invest their own personal time in the community? What motivates them to be there?
The answer is value, and the definition of that will be different across the members of your community. This is the role of community, to understand the different needs and desires of an audience, and provide that support and engagement. This is where gamification can play a big part in ensuring your members return time and time again.
What motivates your audience?
Why do we do the things we do, day in and day out? Research indicates we are driven by two types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic, and this affects our level of engagement.
The key is to strike the right balance between externally influencing users to be part of your community (through offers, discounts, private access etc) and internal motivation, in which your users will make a decision to be there because they see personal value in being active community members.
Designing missions that target desired behaviours is critical to this process. Always come back to the question "what are you trying to achieve here?" and design your missions around the answers to that query.
In short, gamification helps users:
Engender attachment and ownership
The most successful customer communities create feelings of shared ownership and value in brand, company purpose and/or value to the world. A great example is Apple. How many of you, or know someone who does, identify as an Apple person? No matter what else is on the market, you, or they, will get the next product because Apple is a brand people feeling attached to.
Bunchball founder Rajat Paharia talks about the following tiers of customer loyalty:
How many of these users do you have in your community? Gamification should be geared at moving users through these tiers - how do I change a member from mercenary to true or cult loyalty? Is it through discounts? Is it through personal engagement and interactions? When they achieve something truly personal am I rewarding them for it?
Measuring your community
Gamification is built on measuring behaviours in your community against your strategic objectives and taking actions based on the results. So when we come back to the magic question of 'what are we trying to achieve?' we look at the following:
In conclusion, think about the value of your community objectives and how to gamify those activities into something meaningful for your members. The opportunity is there to drive these users, inside and out, to becoming sustained and valuable members of your community.