PunchTab: An Easy Way To Gamify Your Music Site
If you're interested in adding game elements to your site (aka gamification), there is now at least one simple way to do so. PunchTab offers basic tools to help you set up a loyalty program for fans visiting your site or music-related giveaways based on members' site activity. That may not sound quite as exciting as setting up your own video game, but it is a simple way to employ game mechanics to encourage fans and future fans to become loyal repeat visitors to your site.
I previously wrote about applying gamification principles by focusing on the underlying concepts of gamification presented by Amy Jo Kim. Like Kim, I was trying to approach gamification in a manner that didn't focus on game mechanics but, if you check out her slideshow, you'll see such mechanics at work in all of her examples, from turning loyalty programs into a competition to rewarding guests for their involvement.
PunchTab offers the tools to add a basic level of gamification to your band or label's site or blog, by setting up a free account, adding a code snippet and setting up a rewards program. Members accumulate points for doing things such as liking your post, commenting or tweeting and you will be able to get a sense of your most engaged users. You can reward members with whatever you wish such as your latest mixtape, groovy screensaver or real world merch. PunchTab even offers a choice of Amazon, iTunes or Starbucks gift cards for your members when they reach certain points levels at no charge to you. If you prefer, you can conduct a one-time giveaway which might be a good way to test out Punchtab.
I set up an account and added the PunchTab widget to an old inactive blog of mine and it was quick, easy and painless. The more I do on the web, the more I appreciate such things. It means that experimentation comes at a low cost and, even if you choose not to continue with the service, PunchTab will allow you to think your way into gamification in one of its simplest forms.
Tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis is a fan of PunchTab and both interviews founder Ranjith Kumaran at This Week In Startups and profiles the service on the Launch blog where a possible downside is identified:
"Incentives are powerful, and ones with perceived cash value can bring out the worst in people. PunchTab's clients will need a deft hand to keep their programs at the level of Starwood and American Express rewards to avoid legions of social drones in Manila and Mumbai from doing the arbitrage between $2/hour workers and $10 gift cards obtained from two hours of work across dozens of accounts. We're fans of giving away schwag but have learned the horror that can come with tilting people with gift-card rewards."
Nevertheless, both Jason and I see PunchTab as a easy and useful way to get into gamification. Obviously tailoring rewards and givewaways both to one's audience and to one's own marketing and development will be key to making it something more than an opportunity to provide users with free Starbucks cards. But it's kind of cool that they give you a way to jump right in while you're testing the waters and figuring out how things work.