Put simply, gamification means using and incorporating fundamentals of a game or gaming into non games in an effort to increase activity and engagement into those non games.

Still with me? The idea is that people enjoy games and are incentivized by rewards (not always financial ones) – and taking the idea of gaming and applying it to work or business, tasks becomes more rewarding.

Gamification uses techniques that reward users for carrying out a task. By offering a reward, you are giving them an incentive that should mean the likelihood of the task getting completed is significantly higher.

Want an example?

Familiar with foursquare? They use badges and other game like rewards to boost the number of times users enter and ‘check in’ to a given location.

Foursquare, is built wholly on the concept of gaming and the ‘players’, by confirming their geographical location and sharing it with friends and/or followers over social networking platforms such as twitter and Facebook are reaping loyalty rewards offered by the business they have checked into whilst also helping said locations with exposure and potentially profit goals.

Your business could harness the potential of Foursquare by registering your location and rewarding loyal customers who use your product and or services regularly.

Of course, this concept of rewarding loyalty is not new, if you open up your purse or wallet I’m sure you have at least one loyalty card, think Tesco’s club cards, boots advantage cards and air miles - Britain’s longest running loyalty programme.

So if the idea’s not new, why all the fuss in 2011?

Social media.

Social media is the perfect vehicle to accelerate the use of gamification through motivating and rewarding vast networks at very low cost.

Don’t’ get confused

Despite the name, gamification doesn’t mean we can turn everything into a game so that all tasks suddenly become overwhelmingly fun , it’s abut using game elements to motivate and reward users and cleverly ensuring that those motivations and actions are aligned with you business goals.

How can your business engage people with elements of competitive play?

The below is simply a brainstorm of how elements of competitive play could translate into marketing opportunities for businesses, it’s by no means exhaustive and I’d love to hear about your thoughts/ideas.

  1. Rewards: How could your business reward players/users certain behavior?
  2. Progression: Levels can be used to give users a feeling of development through a particular task.
  3. Recognition: Create badges/virtual trophies similar to those used by Foursquare
  4. Achievement: Rank achievements and encourage users to complete particular tasks to get one. I worked really hard on my social media efforts to achieve the ‘specialist’ status from Klout – why? Does anyone else care? Probably not, but I did and I used their service almost daily to check up on my progression
  5. Competition: Post leader boards – who’s commented the most/bought the most/used your product to do the most etc.