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How to Turn Valued Behaviors into Valuable Behaviors in Business Gamification

Behaviors are the foundation of all business gamification programs. It’s not enough to define your business objectives; you must determine which valuable user behaviors will drive them.

You need to distinguish between valued gameplay behaviors and valuable gameplay behaviors:

  • Valued gameplay behaviors are behaviors that your target audience already performs because those behaviors have an inherent worth to them. For example, on a content site or knowledge base, a valued gamer behavior might be reading or posting content. On an e-commerce site, valued behaviors might include accessing product reviews and purchasing items. Valued behaviors are the innate behaviors people just naturally perform on your site or application.

  • Valuable gameplay behaviors are behaviors that are important to you. They’re the ones that drive revenue or growth on your site. They’re also the ones that help you meet the business objectives you’ve identified for your gamification program.

    So, using the same examples, if you run a content site, valuable gamer behaviors — behaviors in which you would like your users to engage — would likely include writing a blog post or sharing an existing post via Facebook or Twitter. If your site is of the e-commerce variety, then an obvious example of a valuable behavior would be purchasing items. Another valuable behavior might be writing and posting reviews of products purchased.

In a perfect world, your target audience’s valued gameplay behaviors will align perfectly with the behaviors your organization views as valuable. That will result in a seamless experience for the user. If they don’t align, your goal is to find a way to make it so they do.

That’s where gamification — specifically, rewards — comes in. As you build your program, start by rewarding valued behaviors, the ones users already perform because they’re of some worth to the user. Then, as those rewards gain acceptance, slowly layer on rewards for the behaviors you want gamers to perform. If you play your cards right, eventually those valuable behaviors will become valued behaviors.

Even if you take this gradual approach, if a behavior you encourage is way out of left field, your users won’t bite — unless your reward is crazy compelling. In that case, the user might view the receipt of the reward as being more like a business transaction.

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