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Integrating Game Mechanics at Your Website to Boost Engagement

What makes Foursquare so addictive? Game mechanics—those charming sets of rules built into games to make them fun to play. Implemented strategically at a website, game mechanics can help you engage both passive visitors and enthusiastic users.

How might you add game mechanics to your marketing site? Craig Ferrara, Gigya's gaming/UI expert, offers five tips for incorporating gaming principles into site design:

Increase user-generated content. When you encourage content creation, Ferrara says, the user becomes more engaged, "thereby making your site richer and more dynamic, as well as improving its SEO." Try rewarding top commenters or enabling ratings or reviews.

Enable easy sharing. Let users work toward a goal or ranking when they share—showing them that sharing is valuable at your site.

Offer rewards for "Liking" or "+1ing" your content. Ranking feedback provides a two-fold benefit: Users expose content to others and showcase their ranks; that in turn drives other users to attempt to achieve the same status.

Use social login to tap social graphs. A common principal of game mechanics is that users participate more if the benefits are real-world, such as a boosted reputation in a community. "Newbies" can be drawn into ranking, consuming and sharing content when their results display immediately.

Keep score. Good gaming systems let users advance and provide ways to benchmark progress. "Offer instructions alongside every badge, and show an indicator of their progress within that achievement," Ferrara suggests. Use JavaScript notifications that don't take up too much space. Consider integrating a leaderboard!

Remember: Tying rewards to your social elements is as important as the rewards themselves—so make sure your user incentives are in line with your current goals.

The Po!nt: Play on. Game mechanics are about keeping the "players" at your site engaged—and building on what they construct. That keeps them invested in your product or service while enabling the site to evolve and improve along with them.

Looking for great social media marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed hundreds of research sources to create our most recent Social Media Marketing Factbook (May 2010). With 140 pages and 102 charts, it is full of relevant social media marketing stats and trends. The Social Media Marketing Factbook is Part 5 of the complete Digital Marketing Factbook (our 296-page full report).

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Vol. 4, No. 32    August 12, 2011

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