Humans are competitive. And since the beginning of recorded time, our passion for creating and playing games has only grown. In fact, humanity’s inclination for games goes so far back that we’ve even evolved circuitry in our brains devoted specifically to playing them.
But here’s the thing with games: while everybody loves playing them, only a select few can intelligently create and implement them.
If you can gamify your forum, your members will reward you with greater engagement, more referrals and general goodwill and trust. It’s pretty much impossible to gamify social media, because you’re playing someone else’s game on those platforms (no pun intended).
Forums, on the other hand, allow you to customize your environment and user interface in unique and impactful ways. Below are a few favorites.
Many forum owners use a badge system to incentivize quality and frequent contributions from their members. In a badge system, digital badges are given to members who meet certain criteria around the quality and quantity of their activity on your forum. These badges are typically displayed alongside your member’s avatar or username, to indicate their status in the community to others.
These badges are usually divided into two categories: discourse badges and accomplishment badges.
As the name suggests, discourse badges are earned on the merits of the content and quality of a member’s forum contributions. For example, if you notice that a particular forum member has been starting particularly popular threads around excellent ideas, that merits a discourse badge.
It helps to cap your badge system for ease of understanding. For instance, you could limit your members to 4 discourse badges, earned for progressively higher levels of conversational quality and depth.
Primarily, this acts as a point of pride for their recipient and marks this person as a particular source of wisdom for the community. If one of your members gets advice from a person with all 4 of their possible discourse badges, they’ll know to listen up.
Accomplishment badges, on the other hand, focus on concrete achievements: number of forum posts published, number of threads created, consecutive days posting, etc. The number of accomplishment badges you could theoretically have is limited only by your imagination.
Accomplishment badges, like discourse badges, offer a point of pride to their recipients and credentials within your wider forum community. The advantage to accomplishment badges over discourse badges is that they’re totally objective.
The depth and relevance of a given post or thread is always debatable but solid metrics like post and thread numbers are not. Because of this, many forum owners structure their members’ privileges around accomplishment badges.
Perhaps members aren’t allowed to create threads until they’ve received the “100 posts” accomplishment badge. After reaching 100 posts and acquiring the badge, they can progress to creating threads, and so on. This is a hugely effective way to keep your community engaged for the long haul.
Running Member-only Contests
Everybody loves a shot at an alluring prize. So think of something that would appeal to your forum members and promote a niche-relevant contest with a grand prize going to the winner.
It should go without saying that the more dynamic you make the competition and the more attractive the prize is, the wider your community involvement will be. So don’t skimp.
If you were so inclined, you could structure the competition around member contributions or user-generated content. The prize could go to whoever creates the best content around a specific theme within a set week.
Whether your contest revolves around forum activities or a separate competition, you’re still leveraging your members’ competitive spirit to fuel engagement.
Live Solo Interviews or AMAs
Although this is not a gamification tactic, it is a great tactic that increases engagement. This one works best for forums or communities with one or a few noticeable figureheads or leaders at the top. Offering a solo live chat between one of your most active member and an expert is a great game to play with your community.
If your members invest large amounts of time on a forum to begin with, it’s because they tend to be knowledge-driven or conversationally-driven. Offering a live solo interview about your niche is a great way to cater to both of these needs.
If you’re in a situation where there aren’t any visible figureheads for your digital community, you can arrange for the chat to be between the your passionate fan and an expert from the wider niche community that your members know and respect.
When you leverage the power of games on your forum, you provide a customized layer of experience that social media platforms simply can’t.
Gamifying your forum can take any number of forms, from discourse and accomplishment badges, to prize mailings, live interviews with niche figures and more. You’re limited only by your creativity and your drive to succeed.