To me, Gamification speaks to the best part of communities: the people who manage communities REALLY enjoy their work, because their job is making people happy! This is usually making people happy by answering questions and connecting people with peers, but Gamification directly increases happiness by recognizing them for their efforts with points, badges, ranks, and Swag!
The whole thing was really great, but here are my key takeways for those who think TL;DR.
Gamification is fun!
Like, really, really fun. I just want to highlight a few of the ways people incentivize engagement in their communities.
Literal karate belts with custom embroidering
Towels (but in a more fun way than you are thinking)
What are your favorite community ranks and rewards? Add some comments below. One of my favorites is National Instruments super users, AKA the Knights of Ni .
When people feel recognized for their efforts - they do more. Chris Hemedinger at SAS has the largest community on the panel and a ton of SuperUsers - and they have amazing stats to back it up.
>60% of questions on their forum are answered within 1 HOUR!
It takes strategy, effort, and time
Gamification is the most direct representation of your culture in your community. Dani Weinstein at Domo talked a lot about how the ranks and badges are customized to match the Domo culture and philosophy. Domo community members can go from Yellow Belt to Black Belt. When they achieve the top rank, they receive an embroidered physical belt and a framed certificate - great wall decoration for video conferencing. SAS uses inside jokes to rank their users as SuperUsers, PROCstars, or SuperFREQs (my favorite).
You don’t have to create a comprehensive listing of badges and ranks with all the explanations behind them, but it does seem to help according to Videotron.
The way these guys talked about their programs definitely indicated it was time well spent. All of them had special events in real life to meet their users, and you could literally hear their voices swell with pride and happiness.
It is extremely cost-effective
The super-user program at Videotron increased registration and the number of super users by creating an aspirational goal for every community member - and people who have not joined yet. All it costs is a little budget for swag and events, but the payback is tremendous. For these big brands, it only takes one person to effectively manage a super-user program.
And the payback goes way beyond answered questions; it comes in the form of community growth, feedback to increase innovation, and general advocacy. Although, the ROI for questions answered cannot be ignored.
Super users generate 15% of new topics but 60-80% of replies at Videotron!
Watch it now!
If you want to learn more about gamification from these three masters of...the game. Click on this link to watch the video .
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Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail
It’s not just something your parents would say when you wait until the night before your project is due to start working on it. It was definitely the #1 message from this panel of experts – if you don’t take time to plan a strategy and roadmap for your community, then you will not achieve good results. It’s really that simple.
However, it can be challenging to find the time and space to actually think about a plan, write it down, and then create momentum with key stakeholders. This one hour recorded session includes some stories and advice on how to determine your strategy, create plans, and set metrics to keep you on track.
Communities can go deep or wide
Everything that is done in a community should be done with the objective of solving customer/member problems - not solving your own business problems. That being said, there are many members with many different problems. In general, communities can grow through two different philosophical approaches:
Solving more problems for existing members; AKA “Going Deeper” for the existing audience
Solving the same problems, but for people who are not members; AKA “Going wider.”
Going Deep: Upwork
Upwork is the largest community and marketplace for professional freelancers. So it is unique in that not only is it a place for people to connect and answer questions, but they are also basically auditioning for work through the community. Community is actually one of the four Core Values for Upwork, and Jennifer Sanchez has been at the forefront of building an extremely valuable community. In this session, she shared a lot of information about the growth of the Upwork community, but the strategy they followed from day one was to be focused on solving more problems for their members.
For Upwork, this meant focusing on advocacy and success for their members in all forms - from feedback about their work to childcare and career advice. One of the big trends in our society today is the incredible growth of the “gig economy.” Upwork has been leading the charge to advocate for fair treatment of the original gig workers for years now, and it is very interesting to see how their community has grown thanks to a well thought out strategy that focuses on helping their members.
Going Wide: Microsoft
Microsoft has built a strong base of users for their PowerApps family of products by focusing on the similar audiences that each product in the group has. They started with a Support-centered community for their first PowerBI product, and quickly started connecting the dots across their other products by syndicating content across each community.
Now, super users can help select which content gets promoted into other communities, and many of the community members have become experts on multiple products. This helps Microsoft grow, but it also provides the members with powerful skills in adjacent spaces that help them provide more, better data to their businesses. And everyone knows that data is now the most valuable commodity in business today.
Getting Started on your Strategy: Feverbee
One of the biggest challenges that Richard sees in Community Management today is being trying to “fly the plane while serving drinks.” Almost a third of communities are run by one person. This makes it really hard to take time off from moderation and interacting with members to figure out what you want your community to be in 3-5 years.
If there is one thing to take away from this session and this blog, it is this:
TIME SPENT ON STRATEGY IS WORTH IT!
When you focus on a strategy that is just about answering more questions, faster - then you end up with increasing costs for decreasing returns. Creating a strategy to go broader or deeper for your audience is how you scale the value of your community.
If you want to find out more - watch the full video now!
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And now there's even a version 1.3 available for both the base and the support theme. Will work out with my CSM to understand what we could gain from upgrading and how complex that would be. Still a bit odd to have this remain undocumented and unsupported yet available to change (and potentially break your skin setup) by a customer.
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