Millennials, the generation raised with constant connectivity and social media, are not only changing consumer markets and media; they are changing the way we work. A recent study by MTV found that 89 percent of Millenials want their workplace to be social and fun.
To answer this call, a new industry has sprung up that applies game theory to the workplace. Recently, brands have even found gamification strategies to be an effective way to achieve certain goals with consumers.
“Gamification is a fascinating cross-section of technology and psychology,” said Katherine Heisler, a senior account executive at Bunchball, a Northern California-based company that was the first to provide gamification as a service to clients. Since 2007, Bunchball has worked with hundreds of companies, managed over 125 million users, and tracked over 15 billion actions.
Bunchball combines the analysis of this big data with five basic human desires: autonomy, mastery, purpose, progress, and social interaction.
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“It’s the strategy of desire,” said Heisler. “How do you motivate people through the things they naturally want?”
Using its recently updated Nitro 5.0 platform, which contains a set of APIs and an administration console to configure them, brands can add all sorts of gamification widgets to their websites. One example is adding trivia, which increases engagement, time spent on the website, and clicks; ultimately making the site more valuable to advertisers. Anonymous visitors can play and earn points, but must register in order to keep them. Heisler said this tactic for driving conversions is based on the psychological theory of “loss aversion.” People feel a sense of loss when they lose something and will try to keep it, even if they never wanted it in the first place.
Like Amazon, Nitro takes data from each individual user to recommend custom-tailored content and deliver a personalized experience. Depending on a person’s interests and profile, Nitro will offer them different challenges, goals, and rewards.
Rewards can be digital—such as badges, wallpapers, and avatar additions—and experiential, such as trading points for a dinner with a CEO. Bunchball can also set up a storefront widget and a point exchange system for brands to offer physical rewards.
And gamification isn’t just for engaging with consumers. Heisler said about half of Bunchball’s clients use the Nitro platform internally for software adoption, continued program usage, and training initiatives. And there really isn’t a limit to what kinds of brands can use gamification.
“Gamification is just a set of tools that you can really apply to any situation that requires a lift in activity,” she said.
While the Nitro platform is content-agnostic, its important to remember that you can’t just add game theory to a website and expect people to come and play. There still needs to be great content that users will enjoy and want to interact with.
“When you have the right tools and the right strategy, you can find that middle ground of what the users want and what you need from them.”