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Motivating Key Behaviors in Business Gamification

Part of the Business Gamification For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Business gamification is all about driving key behaviors. You can harness game mechanics to enable people to experience something they like. In general terms, here are a few things people like:

  • Recognition: Recognition, a foundational building block for gamification, simply means acknowledging desired behaviors. On a website, that could mean being recognized for expertise based on writing reviews. Inside a company, it could be an achievement for closing more sales in your customer management software.

  • Status: Status refers to a position or rank relative to others. Those with a higher position or rank are conferred a higher status. Status — and the rewards or privileges that come with it — is valuable to the player because of the sense of worth and pride that comes with an increased standing in a community of peers.

  • Identity: For some users, it’s all about identity. They want to be known. Recognizing who a user is, what expertise he carries, and what social standing he has is important. Ideally, the distinguishing character or personality of an individual is also showcased, leading to desirable engagement and increased community participation.

  • Specialization: Expertise in an area, or specialization, will typically cause users to perform actions that relate to that topic. For example, a vegan might start a thread on a forum about a new vegan product. This in turn should help to build his or her reputation as an expert in that field.

  • Positive reinforcement: Everyone’s heard of the ol’ carrot-and-stick approach — using a combination of positive (carrot) and negative (stick) reinforcement to guide behavior. Although sticks like punishment for an undesired behavior can be effective, most people agree that when it comes to motivating people to do what you want them to do, carrots work best.

  • Rewards: Rewards are valuable to all users. Rewards can be tangible (cold, hard cash or, free airline tickets, or a discount on your next purchase) or virtual (points, badges, levels, and so on).

  • Relevance: Nobody wants to look at a bunch of information that has no bearing on their area of interest. People want relevance. They want the material that satisfies their needs to be right there. And they tend to create and consume content that’s relevant to them.

  • Competition: Many people are motivated by an urge to compete. Indeed, competitions — whether for prizes, badges, or honor — are among the oldest forms of recreation. Tapping into this innate desire is a great way to motivate desired user behaviors.

  • Visualization of progress: With any type of journey — be it a literal one, like a coast-to-coast scramble, or a figurative one, such as losing weight — being able to visualize the progress made and distance still to go can be powerful motivators. Gamification offers a great way to keep users apprised of their progress.

  • Baby steps: Baby steps — breaking down larger, overwhelming tasks into smaller, easily accomplished micro-tasks — make it much easier to get things done. Each micro-task becomes a little victory, and the larger task is no longer overwhelming.

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