Gamification in social media for businesses


As businesses attempt to engage with online customers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, new approaches of engagement with customers are required, to create sustained interest in a brand’s offering over a period of time. Traditional social media marketing campaigns can help drive spikes in activity and traffic on social pages, but to create a sustained engagement, different approaches are needed. One such approach is Gamification.


While users spent vast amounts of time on social networking sites it is usually not business related. According to a study by Nielsen Norman group, the core reason users get on social networks is to connect with friends and family, not businesses or organizations. Users rarely thought of a company and then tried to connect to them through a social network. A prompt of some sort whether an active recommendation from a friend, a passive recommendation received through browsing friends’ connections, an email from the company or link on the company’s website informing users the company was on the social network was normally the impetus for users to follow a company.


Gamification is the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts in order to create a more engaging user experience. It is about taking the essence of games-fun, play, transparency, design and challenge-and applying it to real-world objectives rather than pure entertainment. When applied to non-game applications, gamification encourages people to engage in desired behaviors when conducting monotonous tasks like filling in sign-up forms and completing surveys. Essentially, gamification is any kind of engagement that melds competition, reward, easy-to-track progress and an enjoyable user experience.

Below is a video of a presentation by Amy Jo Kim, CEO of Shufflebrain discussing seven core concepts for creating compelling experiences using gamification. Using these concepts companies can evolve their marketing strategies to create a more rewarding experience for customers whilst achieving business objectives.

She outlines that there are 4 key types of social engagement and associated verbs.


Win, Beat, brag, taunt, challenge, pass, fight


Choose, customize, layout, design, dress-up


View, read, search, collect, complete, curate


Join, share, help, gift, greet

The importance of these verbs is that they can then be used to describe a potential market group being targeted by a company’s social media campaign. The associated types of social engagement can then be integrated into the campaign to create a more engaging and tailor-made experience for customers.

Nike+ campaign


An example of a highly successful application of gamification with social network integration, can be seen in the Nike+ campaign. The Nike+ Running app tracks distance, pace, time and calories burnt with GPS, giving you audio feedback as you run. The social engagement type used to theme the product is clearly targeted towards the competitive. The app also automatically uploads to for users to see their runs, including route and elevation.


What makes the campaign incredibly creative, is the use of game mechanics in marketing the product to other potential users, by providing the ability to post the start of a run to Facebook or Path and hear real-time cheers for each like or comment received. The App also includes positive messages from some of Nike’s top athletes to spur on the user. This ensures a very engaging product that reinforces the Nike brand using a beneficial activity for a competitive market group.

Conor Maynard Concert Campaign

Another application of gamification can be seen in how English singer Conor Maynard tapped into his social media-hungry fan base, to help him decide where in the United States, he should perform. The campaign was meant to determine which five cities he would perform free concerts. To do this, a map was created that could allow his fans to earn points for their respective cities by performing activities such as Liking, commenting and sharing on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr accounts. This appeals to the expressive and cooperative market groups.


As part of Tech Trends 2013, Doug Palmer, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, stated how the future of gamification could have a far more effective impact over an organization’s entire internal processes. By understanding that business behaviors can lead to profitable business outcomes, companies are adopting game mechanics to solve organizational problems. For example, for organizational internal change initiatives that have been hard to implement, gamification could facilitate the micro changes needed to lead to long term changes.

Audi A3 exchange

Audi A3 exchange campaign

For our last example, we look at how Ogivly helped Audi launch their A3 model with a campaign also guided by tweets. In the first half of 2013, an 18-wheeler truck drove across South Africa, guided by the tweets of hopeful South Africans. Inside the truck: a new Audi A3 Sportback. Outside: a social media frenzy. The Idea: Audi A3 Exchange. An opportunity for people to exchange their own car for the new Audi A3 that was inside the truck.

The campaign launched with TV, radio, online and the truck itself, all sending people to Audi’s microsite or mobi-site. Here people could enter, choose their Exchange City and monitor the truck’s progress in real time. After 3 weeks, more than 50 000 tweets guided the Exchange Truck to its final destination – Jo’burg. Three finalists were put through a series of challenges. Each challenge was designed to demonstrate a feature of the new A3. The finalist who completed all four challenges in the fastest time got to exchange their car for the new Audi A3 Sportback.

Over the 3 week campaign period, 11 310 people entered to exchange their own car. The campaign generated over 50 437 tweets and Audi South Africa was trending on Twitter within 5 hours of the campaign going live. Audi South Africa generated R3 116 654 worth of earned media. And, most importantly, the interest in the A3 Sportback on the Audi website tripled, resulting in more than 100 real life test drives per week.

We are wired to play and technology is making it easier to apply gaming mechanics on social media platforms. Companies are quickly understanding that while traditional advertising raise expectations, gamification could be one approach that delivers on those expectations or promises especially on social media platforms.

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