6 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Social Media Gamification

A recent article on Marketing Sherpa discussed the idea of bringing gaming mechanics, or gamification, to the internal and external operations of B2B companies. One of several definitions in the article is using game-style systems of “goal setting, real-time feedback, transparency, competition, teams, etcetera — to motivate and engage customers and employees.” While not expressly tied to social media efforts, game-like rewards can be more successful when users have the ability to share them using social media, thereby amplifying the effect of the rewards.

Below are six tactics B2B marketers can use to drive internal and external engagement.

1. Drive online community engagement

When customers, prospects and readers come to your site, you want them to engage with your content. One of the best ways to get them to engage is to reward them publicly for leaving comments, sharing and interacting on your site. Some comment systems have built-in point systems or even badges to make this easy.

2. Determine the reward

It’s important to understand what rewards will motivate your employees or prospects to take action. Online rewards could be simple recognition of the action taken, but traditional off-line rewards work too, like trips to Hawaii.

3. Motivate employees

Most employees want to do a good job, but if you introduce a little competition into the environment you can further motivate your employees. If you want to make sure a department completes a training program, offer up recognition for the employees who complete it first. You can also tie your reward efforts to company objectives and KPIs.

4. Create website engagement

When prospects come to your website, you need to get them to follow a path of action that moves them closer to a sale. It is one thing to have the path clearly defined, but it is another to make a game out of it. You can connect with them on a level beyond providing solutions to their business problems.

5. Get Sales to interact with the CRM

Sales organizations are used to meeting goals and comparing their results to others on the team. If one of the goals is to improve the participation in keeping the sales CRM up-to-date, look at ways to make this part of regular process. Gamification changes how you manage that and what behaviors you incent for your teams. In many instances, team goals, in addition to individuals ones, can drive greater results and more collaboration.

6. Avoid over-gaming

Making everything a game can get tiresome. Give people a break where some things just happen and don’t require a competition.

Have you used any of the principles of gamification in your B2B company?

Photo credit: Flickr

Comments

  1. says

    Perhaps the most powerful – yet most frequently overlooked – component to social media growth is also very simple. It’s recognition. The simple, high level ideas above present solid ways of driving engagement.

    Show people how much you really appreciate their taking the time to interact with you, your team (internal), or your organization (external), and watch as they repay your trust with sales and new ideas.

    We are all customers. The Golden Rule goes a long way in social media.

  2. says

    Good article Jeffrey, thanks for sharing. I do think that this just skims the surface of the potential areas to explore gamification with B2B companies. There are many ways that customers interact with the company that can be enhanced and encouraged through gamification. You touch upon this with community engagement, but what about the other areas of social media engagement such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Focus.com, Spiceworks, Facebook, blogging etc.? There are ways to use gamification to engage with customers on these forums as well.

    You touch on the topic of rewards, and I think it is important to note that with B2B companies, rewards need to be considered much differently than with a B2C organization. Often there are limitations around what customers can accept from their vendors and other monetary rewards can actually cheapen the act itself. What value can you actually put on a case study? However, you still want to recognize the customer for their dedication, hard work and advocacy. Some reward examples we have seen are networking opportunities, professional development opportunities and donations to charity.

    Full Disclosure: I run Customer Success at Influitive, vip.infl.tv/r/y-r6, where we have leveraged the principles of gamification for companies to engage with B2B customer advocates and encourage their activities.

  3. says

    Thanks, Jeffrey. I’ve been searching for an easily digestible, workable definition of “gamification” and this is it. Can now see integrating this concept into existing campaigns as well as creating new opportunities to see how it would work with ongoing/upcoming goals. Much appreciated.

  4. Katie Hill says

    Jeffrey, thanks for sharing your insight. My own experience with online marketing has been that providing the opportunity for fun and intuitive website and community engagement is key to increasing willingness for a user to invest their time and energy into a company or idea. I love that proven methods to engage users (rewards, interaction, rewards, recognition) have been tied into the new world of gamification. It’s a lot of common sense.

  5. Ken says

    Let’s get ahead of the game here and understand the problem from a customer’s point of view: there is too much going on to be able to get involved with so we dump almost all of it. We all get dozens, if not hundreds of emails every day that are of no value whatever to us. Most of us delete them unread. If customers are now to be bombarded with offers of rewards for contributing to social media feeds, they’re probably going to ignore those too.

    We need to accept that 75 per cent of the electronic traffic these days is dross: nobody needs it; nobody’s life is enriched by it; it’s a waste of time. To win in this sea of mediocrity we have to offer something of value to the recipient and I don’t mean a trip to Hawaii. We have to provide something that is very obviously of real use and value to the recipient. The trick is to understand what is going to be of use.

    To do that we need to start looking at it from the customer’s point of view. Ask ourselves the question every customer asks: ‘What’s in it for me?’ (and no, most aren’t looking for monetary reward). If the answer is ‘Nothing’, as it is most of the time in electronic communications, think again. And keep thinking until you come up with something that’s really going to make an impact.

  6. says

    Here in Brazil our agency made an ARG to the employees of Nextel.

    You can see the video case here (only in portuguese):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7lmNF9fDUo

    Basicaly, the employees must find codes spread all over the building, SMS, emails, etc. Enter the codes on a website created for this ARG and together, unlock the Nextel Top Goals for 2012.

    In the end of this action we had 92% of engagement instead 38% in 2011. Gamification in B2B =)

  7. says

    Jeffrey good post here. I really like the idea of open up gamification to our internal staff. Currently we interacting with our customers which has been a great success. They are having a good time as well as they are building thier own brand in the market. Thanks – Jeffrey

  8. says

    Thanks Jeffery for helping get the word out about this technique. I am very interested in others’ perspectives (like Julie’s above) to figure out how to make the most effective use of gamification without overwhelming people or just adding to the noise as Ken mentions.

    B2B is indeed a different animal than B2C since not only do business customers have the limitations you mention, but their employees are being paid to work, not to assist their suppliers — so the content or feedback they take time to give us is a real gift and should be acknowledged as such.

    As you say, it is important to find the right rewards to motivate people — ideally “showing them the love” through recognition rather than “buying love” with expensive rewards that only tend to make people expect more next time.

  9. says

    I think over the next five years, we’re going to see gamification elements embedded into a variety of platforms. It simply makes sense to reward employees, stakeholders, and fans for performing actions that benefit the organization, even if the reward is physically nothing more than a bunch of pixels on the screen.

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