Building your fanbase through gamification is not about being a player or playing your fans, though some may approach it in that manner. Gamification is about bringing game-like behaviors into non-game settings to increase engagement with fans and to encourage their engagement with your product. In the case of music, gamification can provide tools to draw fans and potential fans into your world. It's not about killing time by scoring points but about being drawn into a world through an element of play that encourages further interaction with you and your music.
Gamification can be understood as the application of game-like behaviors to non-game settings.*
For example, when we create tiered rewards on Kickstarter, thus separating fans into levels of support, we are applying gamification to a fundraising process to increase the engagement of fans in the process. However, instead of ending up with a digital badge and title, one ends up with not only a tangible product but a feeling of participation that can extend beyond enjoyment of one's music and related merch.
Gamification was the theme of VatorNews' first Vator Spark, a recent day of master classes focused on "succeeding as a technology entrepreneur." As with most discussions of gamification, the shared insights focused on gamification as applied to websites and web communities which can be especially useful in considering one's website as an entryway to a world of music that treats a fan as something more than a consumer.
Michael Wu, PhD - The Science of Gamification
BigDoor founder and CEO Keith Smith discussed onboarding and the need to make it easy to be drawn into one's web community.
For example, he considers Chamillionaire's official website, the Chamillitary Social Network, as a great example of well-done onboarding. I think there have been some changes since his description but one can see how they are continuing to encourage site membership:
"One other example that developers and project managers can look to to learn how to improve the on boarding process is the website for rapper and entrepreneur Chamillionaire. His onboarding service is very visual and engages the social option that shows a pictures of your friends that are also a part of this game. Bringing in this social element raised the trust factor and helps increase the chances of a user becoming a part of the onboarding quest."
"Chamillionaire also offers a variety of rewards that increase the user yearn and all of the website elements have increased the registration rate to a shocking 32% (so one in every three people on the website are opting into this gamification service-- I can bet almost no other service has this conversion rate."
One of the things I like about Chamillionaire's site is that you can browse the content without being forced to join. Perhaps we should call requirements to like or join something "Forced Gamification"? That does not sound fun.
Lithium's chief scientist Michael Wu discussed gamification and included a very useful slidedeck (embedded above) that is actually worth reading after the fact.
Krystal Peak's discussion of Wu's presentation includes the following thought about where onboarding should lead:
"Gamification, by itself, is not sustainable in the long term but is very effective to get people to start doing something."
"So the key is to assure that you are engaging people to learn the intrinsic value in being a part of your community beyond actual or virtual rewards -- such as learning, discovering new tools or products, gaining feedback and meeting like-minded people."
If you add gamification to your website or community it shouldn't be in hope that killing time by playing a game will turn casual web surfers into seriously playful fans of your music. Such elements spark connection but as many of the presenters emphasized, connection is not enough. One must use connection as an opportunity to engage with fans while building a deeper fanbase.
Here's a thought-provoking closing quote from a presentation by the founders of Playnomics and Naked Play. It's a reminder that gamification can be about something more than increasing memberships in exchange for points and related rewards:
"We need to build platforms that people want to play with."
[*Note: I took the definition of gamification as the "application of game-like behaviors to non-game settings" from one of the presentations on VatorNews but have lost the reference. I think it's a widespread idea but I'll update when [and if] I find it.]
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.