One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes features the conclusion of the extended Kramer-Newman game of Risk. It ends on the subway, with an angry Ukrainian smashing the board in response to Kramer’s disparaging comments about his country. “Ukraine is game to you?” he shouts, before scattering the board and pieces across the train.
I flashed back on this when reading a post on whether B2B content marketers should embrace gamification as a strategic tactic. Gamification, as defined by Forrester, is the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive desired behavior. It’s certainly not child’s play.
Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner, is quoted in the post on its growing importance: Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change. Enterprise architects, CIOs and planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization.
For B2B marketers, application of game mechanics can drive interaction with customers, prospects, channel partners, and so on; it can motivate virtually any targeted audience.
The broadly held perception that games are disproportionately a fascination of the young is not well founded. At the dawn of this decade, a BizReport article posted some rather eye-opening figures from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA): The average age of a gamer is 35; over a quarter of gamers are age 50 or over; the preponderance fall in the 18-49 year age range.
R “Ray” Wang, principle analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, offers five simple tips on how businesses can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation:
1) Intrigue. Content and story line often represent the consumer tech side. The enterprise needs to develop relevant content to keep users engage. Content could include help topics, related information, user generated comments, etc.
2) Reward. Both non-monetary and monetary incentives can be deployed. Rewards should match level of difficulty so users gain a sense of accomplishment. Non-monetary rewards could include exclusive information, access, or recognition.
3) Status. Leaderboards codify status in gamification. Leader boards reward status and provide a recognition mechanism as well as a way to tier users. A robust analytics platform must align with the objectives of gamification and support reward systems.
4) Community. Social is a key part of gamification. Users want to connect, share, and reach out to other “players”. Expect integration back to mobile and social platforms.
5) Challenge. Users must earn a sense of accomplishment to remain engaged. Gamification in the enterprise should tie back to the achievement of levels with increasing difficulty. Challenges will tie back to reward and intrigue over time.
It seems clear that game mechanics and gamification are destined to become an important (and even standard) marketing tool in this age of smartphones, tablets and increasingly mobile and engaging digital communications. If you fail to explore them or choose to ignore them, you do so at your own risk.
“B2B Content Marketing is game to you?”
Well, maybe it should be more of one than you think.