When we talk about gamification, we inevitably also talk about motivation. The question of what motivates people is a huge question, one that can’t and likely won’t be answered in a blog post (though I’d love to say I could). But if we narrow down the question from one broad question on human psychology, to one focused on the internet and ask “What motivates the average web user, to stay and interact in a useful manner on a popular website?” then BigDoor can provide some answers.
Before we can even look at what motivates users on websites, it seems like it is important to note that a website must have relevant, useful or interesting content. No matter how good gamification on a website might be, the website has to first provide value to users. If you’re coming to mygamification.com you want to read content that is relevant and interesting on the topics of gamification, social media, marketing, loyalty and engagement. We’d love to post about breaded cats but refrain since the content isn’t relevant (for the most part) to our blog!
A website that has relevant content can maximize the engagement of its users by motivating them in different ways. There are 4 key pillars to motivate a web user to become the kind of contributor and consumer that most websites desire. In short, users want to feel a sense of status amongst other users, an ability to access exclusive content and features, power within that online community, and the extrinsic reward we are all so familiar with; stuff.
From an early age, we are taught the concept of status. Whether we like it or not, even those little gold stars on a chore-board at preschool were instilling the idea of status, or rank in relation to our peers. People like to compare themselves to others and establishing a way for users to compare themselves to other users on a site is a great way to motivate them to join, engage and interact. Whether you are competing against a worldwide network or co-opting your friends in pursuit of a common goal, quantifying status of users is a great way to encourage them to spend a little extra time and effort engaging. This is especially useful when that status leads users to other motivators such as access.
While the idea of beating your friends on a leaderboard might be satisfying for a few moments, the idea of being the first of your friends to see the newest clips from your favorite show, is even better. Websites are beginning to see that there is real value in exclusive content and rewarding users with exclusive content if and when they reach a certain status or level. Not only will it encourage users with status to continue to engage, it will also encourage new users to join, engage, compete and cooperate with others for access.
The concept of power as a motivator can be as simple as making users feel as though they matter. Campaigns driven by user actions are a great way to involve an online community and give them a sense of power. Recently, TeenNick did an awesome job of implementing the Halo Awards, which allowed users to engage with their website and earn points which could be used to buy donations to charities. Users were in control of how much was raised, providing incentive to share, co-op friends, and actively participate on the TeenNick website. Gamification doesn’t always have to be about competition, but also about harnessing the power of communities and social sharing.
Who can honestly say that they don’t like free stuff? I do! The online world has become savvy to this and frequently trades Facebook Likes, Tweets and other actions for opportunities to get free stuff. While this tactic works, gamification can quantify a user’s path to ‘stuff’ significantly better than “Like this page for a chance to win X.” When a user knows what actions lead to rewards, it’s a lot harder to lose interest and become demotivated. How many of us would play a game with no idea what the objective, desired actions, or chance at success was?
For gamification to be successful, there are a lot of things that need to be considered including content, audience and desired goals. No matter what website, product or service is looking at gamification, understanding the way people are motivated online is crucial to the success of any program. The good news BigDoor’s done most of the leg-work for you and we’re able to create dynamic solutions for our partners!