Marketers often turn to social media to help boost traffic to their websites, and as a result, sales. But while some companies find tweeting and pinning to be a successful strategy, others are turning to gamification.

Gamification is the concept of using game-like techniques to increase engagement with non-game activities. A good example of this is unlocking badges in Foursquare for visiting new locations. More recently, educators and learning institutions have begun integrating gamification techniques into lesson plans.

A study conducted by Gigya analyzed billions of user actions with partners like Pepsi, Nike, and Dell, and found that adding gamification to your site boosts engagement by almost one-third. Specifically, gamification increased commenting by 13 percent, social sharing to networks like Facebook and Twitter by 22 percent, and content discovery by 68 percent.

“Gamification needs to be tied to social,” stated Victor White, Gigya’s marketing manager. “It’s often thought to be social inherently, but it’s not — there’s a difference between getting a badge, and getting a badge and sharing it. One is social, and one is not.”

Last summer, Verizon Wireless was able to increase engagement with its social hub by 30 percent through social login and gamification. The company rewarded customers who interacted with Verizon Insider with badges, and more than 50 percent of the site’s visitors ended up participating in the gamification environment.

The results will be different for everyone, of course, and with gamification becoming more popular, you’ll have to be delicate with your integration. If done thoughtlessly, it can come across and random and manipulative; however, if integrated fluidly and intelligently, it can improve user experience and increase engagement and growth.

[Via: VentureBeat, Image credit: Alexandre Duret-Lutz]