October 26, 2010
Squidoo's Megan Casey: Game Mechanics Will Change Your Business: #biztech
Squidoo's co-founder Megan Casey says she wants to change our views on game mechanics, how we think about them in the traditional and non-traditional sense. In other words, instead of putting the idea of game mechanics in a box in the corner, understand how you can use the dynamics of gaming to grow your user base, get buzz for your brand and better engage your audience over the long haul.
At BizTechDay in San Francisco last weekend, she strongly encouraged everyone to think about the concept of game mechanics to grow their business.
“We want to change the experience you offer your business and to your customers," she says. "You are trying to run serious businesses, I understand that, but you can really tap into what I call the spill-over."
Examples include behavior from simple games like tennis and kung-fu to how people are playing Farmville and warcraft.
She says, "I want to challenge the assumption that game mechanics only belongs in the world of gaming companies. It’s basic motivation, trying to encourage people to use your service -- to use it often and to love it."
She says that she agrees that most people who are using game mechanics today are not using it very well. For example, 20% off signs are old, stale and ignorable – it’s gaming blindness in the same way there’s ad blindness.Going shopping is a kind of game you can offer customers as a way to better engage them and remember you, i.e., you can only buy a pair of jeans unless you show up physically and with a friend. This is a great example of a game mechanic to drive people into your store and offer customers points for coming in (with a friend -- and the friend gets points too).
Huffington Post is using game mechanics by giving you a badge if you’re a frequent commenter. Or Twitter tools to help you get more followers. She says, “I’m interested in growing your community, whether it’s an online or offline company. And, it works for big and small brands alike."
There are 5 simple game mechanics Megan says. If you can successfully implement these examples, you can change the day-to-day engagement from customers and/or visitors. Imagine what you could do if you could grow your site traffic or customer base by 20% a month? she asserts, which is Squidoo's growth rate today.
1-Train People How to Be Great - All you need is a community of 2 people. If there are two people, there’s one loser and one winner. In other words, it doesn’t matter how big you are. You need to have step-by-step things to do on your site that gives customers feedback every step of the way.
Reward them for doing something, i.e., if you upload your photo, you get 20 points. Giving them something back makes them feel rewarded and good for doing something. People want something to do and when they do it, they want to get feedback in real-time, whether that’s a coupon or a badge or a gift.
2-Give them something to do every day (engagement) and give them a quest (i.e., game mechanic)
3- Identify Your VIPs / Influencers. Foursquare is a good example. Engage them and offer them something of value.
4- Get your best people to delight in a new game, such as being mentors in your community. It's important not to confuse this with being an evangelist. A mentor is someone who has risen through your community to such a level that the only thing of interest to them is to raise the level of engagement of everyone else who is new in the community. Suddenly, a new behavior emerges; people start training each other. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example of how this behavior works effectively.
5-Co-op. Co-op is the jeans example referred to above, i.e., you can’t do something unless you do with it someone else. For example, if you run a well known tea shop, you could tell your customers, i.e., on this day, come to our shop between 5-7. If you bring another person during that window, you will both get a gift. Ask yourself, what is it that you have that is so fundamental that people will get excited if they participate?
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