by Deanna Ting | November 28, 2014
Paying close attention to those who will be using your gamification program is crucial. "It's not as much about the type of program as it is about the type of person who will be using it," says Zichermann. "When we do gamification design for Dopamine, one of our core approaches is that we carefully design the user journey -- how do they get mastery, how do they achieve something for themselves, what do they want to do, what do we want them to do? That's the user journey. To design that, you have to understand who the users are."

For example, he says that a live, competition-style gamified sales incentive program would not be ideal for a remote salesforce. "After you define your objectives, you also have to understand your user and what he or she wants," he says. "Why would they use this in the first place? What's their stake in the game?"

For its annual JiveWorld 2013 convention, Palo Alto, CA-based social business company Jive reached out to Bunchball and mobile event app developer QuickMobile to create a uniquely gamified mobile app for its more than 1,800 attendees, most of whom are Jive customers (80 percent) and partners (20 percent) -- tech-savvy men and women ranging in age from 20 to 40.

The main objectives of the app and its accompanying "game" were to encourage networking, build customer loyalty, and increase social media activity. The JiveWorld game included badges, daily challenges to win iPad Minis, and random drawings. App users were encouraged to take photos and share them via social media, as well as to tweet. Compared with 2012, the app saw a mobile download increase of 104 percent, a 50-percent increase in the number of tweets (more than 10,000 in total) during the event, and a 108-percent increase in photo sharing.

"Whenever we look to develop an app or include a game, we always take a look at the attendee profile, mindful of their comfort zones and the actions and activities they would gravitate toward," says Jeff Epstein, director of product and channel marketing for QuickMobile. "For example, if we were developing something for an American Association of Retired Persons convention that has attendees ages 60 and up, asking people to use Twitter might miss the mark because it's not a typical Twitter user base. It's OK to push the envelope a bit, but you don't want to miss the mark."

Ryan Rutan, Jive's developer evangelist says, "The amount of customer loyalty that this generated was infectious; the game brought people together, and we've received so many stories and positive sentiments from people who experienced it. Toward the end of the conference, we broke the mobile app because we had so many people sharing photos through the game. The game was wildly successful -- a combination of both inspiring and instilling behavior in our attendees."

Rutan says that having a gamified mobile app that also tied in with Jive's own social media/community platform ensured lasting connections among event attendees well after the convention ended. "It's great to gamify people for those three or four days at the conference, but we wanted to have that live on. That's why we integrated Bunchball and QuickMobile, and had the app and the game link to our Jive community. It keeps people engaged 365 days a year."

A common mistake among organizations that utilize a gamified application is thinking about the type of technology platform to use first, instead of thinking about exactly how they want to design their program.

"People often start with the technology platform in mind first," says Zichermann. "In practice, it should start with a design decision that helps you choose the right technology -- not the other way around. It'd be like deciding you want to use Microsoft Office or Google Docs before knowing what your requirements actually are."

Focusing on design needs first proved to be beneficial for Jive. Prior to last year's JiveWorld, the company also created a gamified app for its 2012 JiveWorld conference. "It was one of those things where we had a lot of ideas, but we didn't have a good execution of it," says Rutan. "We learned from that. We increased what we could do with the game and learned that you have to structure the gamification in relevant, flexible ways in order to be successful."

Sydney Sloan, Jive's senior director of customer experience and social marketing, adds, "There are many people with expertise with setting this up to integrate it with whatever platform you're using. Don't let the technology behind gamification scare you away. If you have a good idea of what you want people to do, you can always build and grow from there."

And when it comes to design, keeping things clear, understandable, and easy is universally key no matter the gamification program. "It shouldn't be a mystery as to how the game works," says QuickMobile's Epstein. "Have really clear rules of engagement so that people understand what they need to do and what their limitations are."

Rutan adds that including "zero-effort entry" such as giving badges or digital rewards simply for signing up or doing simple tasks is also a great way to encourage participation. "That way, participants already have some skin in the game and they'll want to continue being a part of the program."

Another key incentive? "Always give them something to strive for," says Rutan. "If you design a gamification application correctly, it should correlate with what you want them to do at that time and also give them the best possible experience; it should a be a roadmap they want to pay attention to and follow."