Kevin Werbach, a leading expert on the legal, business, and public policy aspects of the Network Age, defines Gamification as the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems. It is more than just points, badges, and leaderboards. The principles of gamification can be applied to just about any situation where understanding motivation is critical and impacting human behavior is the goal.
Once your corporate blog is found through organic search, you can encourage ongoing engagement by applying some fundamentals of Gamification. This will help users and search engines recognize your corporate blog entity as preferred and authoritative.
This should be fun.
Your corporate blog content should be more than just a bunch of elements or articles. Its design and content should change the way users think. When someone enters the world of your blog, it should have an impact on their mindset. Is it an aromatic culinary world? Is it the high-tech world of data security solutions? People have problems to solve and seek new worlds to explore to accomplish their missions. Your blog should take users away from reality and introduce them to a world where the content is the most important thing.
Your players need freedom and to feel like they are in control. Provide enough “scaffolding” in the form of clear navigation and calls to action in order to guide users through the blog. Do not point them too hard in the direction that you want them to go (cough, product pages) without thinking about their mission first. It is okay to provide natural avenues for users to explore product pages and other high converting pages, but always make sure the user feels as though they are in control.
Gamification teaches us that games are a series of meaningful choices. This concept is evident in blogs when “related content” is recommended after reading an article. Related content should not strictly lead users where you want them to go, it should should guide users on their journey.
For example: earlier today I, the user, made a choice to read a blog post on LinkedIn about the updated terms of service. When I opened the post, I was not thinking about my electronic rights or protecting myself from hackers. When presented with recommended posts, I believed they were my choice, based on my previous decision to read the privacy post. Because it was my choice, I was encouraged to “keep playing” — or in this case, keep reading. And, in fact, I did.
Think about the user’s greater objective. Why is this person coming to the blog? What is the problem they are trying to solve and what is their greater mission? Perhaps the user is trying to learn how to cook so that her food will have a positive impact on her marriage. A consultant might be looking to read up on industry trends to better help her clients grow their business and get the promotion she is looking for. Your content will keep your audience coming back for more if you understand, and speak to their ultimate objectives.
People are naturally inclined to want to level up. Think about the concepts and skills your audience is looking to master. Then, create a content series with levels that will help them get there.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that we know our audience is looking to develop successful Google+ strategies for their companies. The level one post will be simple, “Checkbox Google+ Set Up for Businesses.” Level 2 might be a bit more difficult: “Building company circles.” Level 3 could be even more challenging: “Developing a 3-6 month Google+ content plan.” Level 4: “Measuring Google+ referral traffic.” And level 5:”Leveraging your insights and data from Google+ to create content that converts.”
Progressive content helps users feel as though they are working towards mastery. Upon completion of the series, send users an email congratulating them on their accomplishments. Nudge them to share their success on social media by providing social share buttons and pre-populated social updates.
This type of social sharing will help your series get extra exposure as well. Remember to have another series in the queue, and offer it to the user while they feel like they are on their way to mastery. Say something like: “Now that you are a Google+ expert, download or sign up for our B2B Linkedin series.”
It can be a challenge to encourage knowledgeable contributors both inside and outside of your organization to write for your corporate blog. Humans are naturally inclined to work in teams, and you can leverage this motivation to build your contributor list.
Create a page or section of your blog dedicated to your contributor community; your contributors must feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Dr. Oz does this very well. Notice the language used in the screen shot below? There is clear mention of community and a common commitment to “health and wellness.” Common commitment brings communities together. Each “member” presents themselves as a valuable team/community member with their photo, title, and a link to the posts they have written (and are likely proud of.)
Point to your contributor page when soliciting new contributors. Real estate on pages like this might be appealing to your prospects.
Leverage team playing to encourage the members of your organization to spread the word about your corporate blog. Send out an email challenging departments to get on board and share the blog in their newsletters, forums they contribute to, and on their personal social channels such as Linkedin and Google+. Set a goal for visits, and then share that goal with your team. Update stakeholders with screen shots of growth from Google analytics and pat the “team” on the back for the impact they have had on the growth of the blog.
Think about adding featured content to your homepage and switching it up as often as possible. This way, users won’t always know what to expect. I really like the way Marketo does this with their “Fresh Off the Keyboard” content:
If you have a blog that users frequent, include an element of surprise when they arrive. Cookie them and welcome them back when they come to the blog. Know their birthday? Surprise them with a warm welcome like Google does.
Don’t be afraid to lighten the mood, and make mundane topics and activities more fun. Stuck? Here is some inspiration from Volkswagon to get your “fun” juices flowing.
You don’t need to be a gamification expert to start thinking about the ways in which you can motivate users with game elements and game design techniques.