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The Psychology Of Gamification

Gamification is the method of implementing various elements of game design in contexts outside of gaming. The implementation’s purpose is to provide motivation to take a desired action. Online marketing is one common context in which gamification is incorporated.

Answering “what is gamification” isn’t as important as answering “why gamification works.” The process means nothing unless it earns brands the desired result. And understanding how gamification does just that means understanding basic human psychology.

Kevin Werbach, an associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, urges his students not to focus on mental state so much as behavior. How people think, he claims, isn’t as important as what people actually do. People have natural cognitive biases – certain instincts – that dictate their behavior without much thought. One of those instincts is an adverse reaction to loss.

For example, the Professional Baseball League gives badges to viewers who watch streams of covered baseball games. Viewers receive these badges when certain events occur during the games. The reception of badges gives viewers a sense of inclusion. That inclusion creates a community of sorts among the viewers who earn badges. As a result, the “game” of watching streams to receive badges takes on an addictive quality.

At the same time, the badges create a situation of potential loss. Viewers who don’t watch when an event occurs can’t receive a badge for that event. Not only do they miss the badge, they don’t feel included with the viewers who did receive it.

Gamification also generates feedback. One type of feedback is behavior-based. Whether or not people take part in the “game” indicates its success. Take speed detectors, for example. Speed detectors are digital boards that are set along roads and calculate the speed of passing vehicles. Speed detectors remind drivers how fast they should be driving – in other words, how they should be “playing the game.” On average, drivers who pass speed detectors slow down 10%.

Another type of feedback is progress-based. We see examples of progress-based gamification in numerous contexts, from video games to online surveys to self-improvement apps. In video games, players constantly receive feedback on their playing style. Chapter and level summaries display items gathered, accuracy rates, and the time it took players to complete the chapter or level. That way, players don’t have to wait until the end of the game to know how well they played.

Online surveys and social media profiles often include progress bars. These bars indicate the number of steps that users have left to complete the survey or profile. Self-improvement apps, such as the ones for fitness or learning languages, give users a task, cheer them on upon completion, and display both their progress and the steps left until total goal completion.

Thanks to the feedback mechanism, consequences are also part of gamification. Feedback creates an appointment-based mechanism that requires consumers to take a specific action regularly in order to participate.

One example is the popular ‘90s toy Tamagotchi. Tamagotchi were a brand of digital pets that players must care for via feeding, playing, and putting to bed much like real pets. Because the digital pets could need food, playtime, or a nap at any time, serious players carried their Tamagotchi at all times. If they didn’t, they risked losing their pet and having to start the game all over.

Another example is FanLogic. We reward entrants who take certain actions and successfully refer friends to our contests with additional ballots, thus increasing those entrants’ chances of winning. The entrant who continuously takes actions and makes referrals might not win, but the entrant who doesn’t act or refer at all almost definitely will not win.

In the end, gamification works based on inherent instincts rather than thought patterns. The instinct to succeed. The instinct to feel included. The instinct to avoid losses and not miss out. Online marketing strategies that stimulate these instincts are the strategies most likely to succeed.

How Successful Marketing Strategies Incorporate User Generated Content

Now more than ever, brands struggle to create content that appeals to their target audience. Some content, no matter how catchy or clever to marketing teams and agencies, simply don’t resonate with consumers.

The problem spans beyond failing to capture a target audience’s attention. Failed marketing campaigns waste time and resources. For that reason, brands are turning to user generated content.

“What is user generated content?” some brands may ask. User generated content (or “UGC” for short) is content that consumers create and brands use. Popular methods of inspiring – and obtaining – UGC include hashtag-based campaigns and digitally driven contests, such as the ones that FanLogic hosts.

For example, government agency Tourism Australia identified a need to appeal to social media-oriented Japanese youth. In response, Tourism Australia launched the GIGA Selfie campaign. As part of the campaign, the agency released an app that Japanese tourists downloaded onto their phones. Then, while in Australia, the tourists could activate the app, causing a distant camera to take a photo or video of themselves. They would then receive an e-mail containing the photo or video, which they could forward to friends or family and share on social media.

Thanks to the GIGA Selfie campaign, Tourism Australia became associated with numerous breath-taking shots of Australia and Japanese tourists enjoying themselves in the country. The agency obtained the content it needed to appeal to its target audience. As a result, its website traffic increased by 65%.

Another great example of UGC at work is soda company Coca Cola. Coca Cola is no stranger to successful UGC campaigns. The brand’s Share A Coke campaign helped them earn $10.5 billion in 2015.

After the end of Share A Coke, Coca Cola launched another UGC campaign, a competition, in which consumers submitted videos of themselves talking about why they love Coke. One lucky contestant won a grand price of almost $14,000. The campaign earned the brand six million mentions online. Coca Cola also reported 92% cost savings compared to other marketing strategies.

Cost savings are another advantage of user generated content. Traditional marketing strategies require planning, skilled labor, ad space, and air time – all of which can add into one hefty bill. User generated content is far cheaper, usually requiring only planning and content review.

What’s more, user generated content is organic and genuine. Although professionally shot photos and videos of models in front of beautiful backgrounds are nice, they are obviously “manufactured” so to speak. To consumers, user generated content is honest content. It is content created not for marketing purposes but for consumers’ love of a brand and its products. And that love resonates with consumers.

Gamification As An Effective Consumer Engagement Tactic

Video games operate on a system of performance and reward. When players perform well, they receive extra points, items, or tries. Thanks to this system, many players go out of their way to play well rather than only play well enough to complete the game.

Modern game companies have adapted this system further. They use the Internet, social media, and other opportunities to increase brand awareness. For instance, the popular Facebook and app game FarmVille encourages players to invite their friends. Players who successfully convert their friends into fellow FarmVille players can trade with them, gaining desired supplies. As a result, new consumers are exposed to FarmVille and its publisher, Zynga. We call this system of using rewards to increase and retain brand exposure “gamification.”

Gamification doesn’t just work for video games. Companies from numerous industries have implemented gamification as a way to engage consumers and keep them engaged.

Let’s take the healthcare industry, for example. Some healthcare insurers have created loyalty programs that reward consumers for participating in healthy activities, such as going to the gym or getting an annual physical. The reward could be anything from a reduced premium to gift cards to product discounts.

We often see gamification in similar marketing strategies. Various retail chains have in place their own loyalty programs that reward frequent shoppers with a discount, points toward free merchandise, or in-house cash. Online, we see gamification in the form of social contests such as the ones that FanLogic offers. Consumers participate in contests by giving the companies running the contest information that helps them learn about their target audience. Consumers can also perform certain tasks, such as sharing the contest with friends or taking part in surveys, to earn more chances to win. Both actions give companies valuable consumer data.

Gamification has even made a name for itself in the workplace. Some companies have incorporated gamification to keep workers engaged while at work, thus boosting their productivity. For example, the hotel chain Marriott International divided their employees into teams and introduced a digital platform that allowed them to compete against employees at other hotel chains. Marriott offered prizes to the teams that performed the best. Additionally, the chain garnered data that proved the teams improved their productivity by 10%.

Gamification is a proven system that works across multiple industries and platforms. Regardless of how it is incorporated, it engages consumers, turns them into customers, and ensures they stay customers.

The Necessity of Income Opportunities For Customer Acquisition

Last year, companies worldwide spent nearly $40 billion on media advertising. Experts predict that by 2022, global advertising will exceed $750 billion in total.

Considering the amount that companies invest in advertising, one would assume an online campaign or TV spot is all it takes to earn a handsome ROI. The truth is, it depends. The success of any advertisement relies on content, resonance, medium, audience demographics, and a myriad of other factors.

In the end, advertising is a necessary yet risky method for acquiring new customers. To succeed in today’s market, companies must venture beyond advertising to reach – and keep – customers.

One effective method is the “income opportunity.” Income opportunities are chances for customers to earn their own ROI while participating in activities that increase companies’ ROI. We frequently see income opportunities implemented in gaming apps and platforms.

For example, popular games Candy Crush and Farmville give players the opportunity to earn more in-game by referring their friends. In Farmville, players’ “neighbors” are their Facebook friends, who can give them farming supplies. Candy Crush rewards players who send their friends app invites with extra lives. Game Loot Network, a multi-faceted gaming platform, utilizes a similar model in which players can compete against friends, make new friends, win prizes, and even participate in game development.

Lance Baker, founder and CEO of Game Loot Network, recently talked about the significance of the income opportunity to his company’s business model. Specifically, he spoke about the importance of a “culture of partnership” between companies and customers.

Said Baker of the model’s success: “Our members have trust and patience because they are stakeholders IN our mission, while being ambassadors FOR our mission.”

Income opportunities don’t come without some difficulties. One such difficulty is customers having to rely on friends to accept the referrals. A customer who does not successfully refer many friends may grow frustrated with the platform.

Another difficulty is reliance on third-party platforms. For example, many income opportunity-based models include the ability to refer friends via social media sites. Social media sites are an ideal platform for outreach due to their popularity. In the United States alone, nearly 80% of the population maintains some sort of social media account.

However, social media sites tend to change their APIs often. The changing of APIs can lead to breaks in linking. Just this month, Facebook implemented an API change that disallows Twitter users to cross-post tweets to their Facebook pages.

Nevertheless, income opportunities are a necessity for customer acquisition in today’s market. Minor hiccups in the model should not deter companies from seeking a more even – and profitable – relationship with their customers.

How Brands Win – And Keep – Customers

The backbone of every company is its customers. Companies that fail to win and keep customers struggle to stay afloat.

Today, the struggle to grow and maintain a strong customer base is a common problem among many companies. Poor customer service is often cited as a major reason why customers lose interest in the companies they follow. In fact, one study indicated that by 2020, poor customer service will lead to more customer defection than high prices or product issues.

In today’s digitally inclined society, customer service is not an obvious answer. Mobile devices and Google give customers the tools to find desired information without any help from reps. However, customer service features something that Internet searches do not: personalized, human engagement.

Consumers latch onto the human side of companies. In an age of touch screens and automated voice recordings, companies that offer one-on-one, human engagement leave a better, longer-lasting impression than those that do not.

In fact, companies that show their human side generally find more favor with customers. For that reason, many companies have taken measures to present themselves in a personable manner – and demonstrate that they care about meeting customers’ needs.

For example, companies are now turning to video advertisements and vlogs to show off their products. Videos are eye-catching and allow customers to see the people behind the brands.

Another approach that companies are taking is community creation. Many companies are using social media and unique hashtags to track and participate in customers’ conversations. Some companies, including make-up giant Sephora, have launched their own online communities that offer forums and content just for customers to partake in. Some communities have grown so large that companies have hired Community Managers to moderate comments and ensure customers engage in healthy discussions.

Partnerships have also proven a valuable opportunity. Partnering with influencers and other companies for events exposes brands to new customers.

An unexpected opportunity for brand-customer connection that companies have seized is social stands. Although risky, social stands have ensured customers that the brands they follow are worthy of support.

Last year, Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad “Born The Hard Way” depicted the harsh realities that the company’s founder, Adolphus Busch, faced when he first immigrated to America from Germany. The ad drew its share of criticism due to its seemingly politically charged subject matter. The ad also garnered support thanks to the subject matter. One YouTube user commented on a video of the ad: “I will drink to this with a Bud Light, cheers.”

Overall, customers want authenticity from the brands they support. They want a human element that they can latch onto. Companies that can provide that element will fare better both short-term and long-term.

Sports Gambling Is A Success In Delaware

Delaware has a spotty track record when it comes to sports gambling. Forty-two years ago, the state’s venture into football gambling cost the state nearly $70,000.

Despite that loss, Delaware was the first state to legalize sports gambling following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) this past May.

The state opted to start small, opening sports books in only three casinos at the beginning of June. Those casinos include Delaware Park and Casino, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino.

The state’s governor, John Carney, placed the first symbolic bet in Dover Downs. He wagered $10 on the Philadelphia Phillies versus the Chicago Cubs. He won.

The Delaware Lottery, a state-sanctioned organization, handles the state’s gambling industry. This month, the Delaware Lottery released the total number of bets gathered from June 5th to June 24th. During that time period, Delaware recorded over $7 million worth of bets.

Of that $7 million, the state kept $1 million.

Delaware Park earned the most, recording over $5 million worth of bets. Dover Downs followed with more than $1 million. Harrington Raceway recorded nearly $600,000.

In fact, on opening day alone, the three Delaware casinos garnered over $320,000 in bets.

The good news doesn’t stop there. Last week, Delaware lawmakers approved a 1% tax cut for Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. The cut is expected to help bolster revenue for the gambling venues, which have struggled in the past.

The cut is also expected to aid the venues in competing against Maryland and Pennsylvania’s budding gambling industry.

Vernon Kirk, director of Delaware Lottery Games, is pleased with Delaware’s sports gambling success thus far. He contributes much of the success to the state’s established gaming infrastructure for parlay cards. The only real issue that casinos have encountered, he said, is the sheer volume of bets wagered.

“We had one brief moment when we were overwhelmed on the second day,” Kirk elaborated. “There was a pro basketball game and Delaware Park was a little unprepared for the volume.”

Presently, the state has not yet incorporated mobile gaming. Kirk hopes that changes by football season. Delaware law requires all mobile gaming be in-state, meaning that mobile gamblers will need to register prior to placing bets.

Speaking of football season, Kirk anticipates some growing pains once the season is in full-swing. One concern is, again, volume and whether or not casinos can handle what he expects to be a high turn-out of gamblers.

Another is small vendor turn-out. In the past, gamblers have purchased parlay cards from small vendors rather than casinos. Kirk expects gamblers to turn to casinos, where sports gambling is also available, for card purchases in the future. The change, he says, is a necessary one due to the equipment and infrastructure that casinos already have in place.

Rhode Island Legalizes Sports Gambling

Sports gambling is officially legal in Rhode Island.

Last Friday, the state’s governor Gina Raimondo signed Bill S7200A into law, legalizing the once-outlawed practice. The Rhode Island government issued a press release later in the day, confirming the bill’s status.

The legalization of sports gambling is part of Raimondo’s proposed state budget plan. Per her plan, the Rhode Island government will fund various projects, including public school improvements, using funds garnered from sports gambling.

Earlier in the week, the state’s senate had voted almost unanimously to pass the bill.

Rhode Island is the third state to legalize sports gambling since the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known simply as “PASPA,” earlier this year. Prior to the Act’s overturning, only Nevada could allow sports gambling. Now the practice is legal in Nevada as well as New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Initially, only two casinos will offer sports gambling in Rhode Island. Both are Twin Rivers casinos, one located in Lincoln and the other in Tiverton. The state will grant each casino $100,000 to host the practice. Online and mobile sports gambling is currently forbidden.

At 51%, the state will take the biggest slice of all sports gambling-based profits. Vendors will take 32% while casinos will receive the remaining 17%.

Roll-out of the new law will likely be slow. At its earliest, legal sports gambling could become available by October of this year.

The next states expected to legalize sports gambling include West Virginia and Mississippi.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling on Sports Gambling And What It Means For Online Gambling

Recently, the state of New Jersey took on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The federal Act, which is also known simply as “PASPA,” outlaws most instances of sports gambling outside Nevada.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that PASPA violated New Jersey’s tenth amendment. The amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. released a statement about the Court’s decision. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own,” he said. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

The Court’s ruling in favor of states’ rights over federal law paves the way for other states to enact legislation that allows sports gambling and betting.

Many New Jersey gambling establishments are already poised for the sports gambling window to officially open. Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi are also preparing to move quickly. Other states, including New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, will likely pass their own legislation within the next 90 days. Some states have already held their house meetings and must wait several months to pass new legislation allowing sports gambling within their boundaries.

In total, it’s estimated that up to 32 states will enact some form of legislation allowing sports gambling within the next five years.

The Supreme Court’s ruling covers virtually any kind of sports gambling recorded via sportsbooks, including horse racing, golf, combat sports, and professional and college sports. The ruling also covers non-American sporting events.

Currently, various sports leagues are urging the banning of certain types of sports gambling. One type is betting on player actions, such as whether the first pitch of a game is a strike or a foul.

Some in-house bills are encouraging the availability of online and mobile sports gambling options.

Despite the Court’s ruling, businesses shouldn’t start opening their own sports gambling operations just yet. In no way does the ruling imply that the activity is legal throughout the entire United States. The decision means only that states can now pass legislation allowing sports gambling within their boundaries. Not every state will legalize sports gambling. Even those that wish to do so may have to wait months – even years – to pass the appropriate legislation.

What are social influencers

The Internet provides a platform for anyone who has something to say. Thanks to this "open mic" aspect of the World Wide Web, social influencers have risen into positions of authority – and marketers have taken notice.

Social influencers are everyday people who've managed to garner an impressive online following. They're bloggers, vloggers, models, animators, and other content creators whose work has found success within a particular online community. Because of their success, they're seen as knowledgeable and trustworthy within that online community. Each online community caters to a specific niche of people, be they fans of a certain television series, theater buffs, or fitness enthusiasts.

A myriad of benefits come with social influencer marketing. These benefits include:

  • Immediate brand awareness. Once you've gained a social influencer's endorsement, you've won access to an already interested, loyal audience. You won't have to worry about reaching your audience because you'll have already reached it.
  • Established credibility. Social influencers are trusted by their followers. In fact, followers trust social influencers as much as their own friends. Once you've won the social influencer's trust, you've won their followers' trust.
  • A sincere spokesperson. Social influencers become social influencers because they have something to say and they're honest when they say it. That's why social influencers are seen as "experts": they're knowledgeable and use their knowledge to back up their opinions. A social influencer's endorsement is seen as far more sincere than any ad campaign.
  • New content. Every digitally driven campaign struggles to churn out new, exciting content. A social influencer can help there. Social influencers create content of their own accord, taking some of the burden off your marketing team.
  • Networking. An social influencer can introduce you to fellow social influencers, social influencer managers, and other people who have a lot of pull in the celebrity realm. Working with a social influencer is a valuable networking opportunity that could result in massive exposure for your brand.
  • Conserved resources. All marketing efforts require time, effort, and money. Those resources go into planning a strategy, creating content, and putting everything into play. Campaigns not focused on capturing an audience's attention are focused on maintaining it. Promotion via a social influencer takes away much of that hassle. Thanks to social influencers, you can cut out a huge portion of the campaign development process, saving you resources.

How to choose the right social influencers

Social influencer marketing has become a staple of digitally driven strategies. For those who are not yet in the know, social influencers are niche-based personalities who specialize in creating content for their niche. Consumers of that niche recognize social influencers as knowledgeable and trustworthy, making them a valuable resource for any marketing campaign. At FanLogic, we've started to tap this plentiful well to help our clients make the most of our social contests, social fantasy games, and other services.

There is a right way and a wrong way to select your digital campaigns' social influencers. Choosing the wrong social influencers results in a waste of resources and a potential loss of interested consumers. To pick the right social influencers, you'll need to conduct some research. It might be tempting to check out a potential social influencer's number of followers or likes and just stop there. But don't. Instead, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are they already following you on social media? You shouldn't be concerned with whether or not a potential social influencer is already following you on social media. After all, they may not have heard of you. However, it is always easier to convince a current customer to vouch for you.
  • Does their brand align with yours? In today's digital market, it's important to ensure every consumer-facing action you take is brand-aligned. After all, brands outlive products and services. Make sure your brand appeals to your chosen social influencer's niche, or you'll risk wasting resources and time on an uninterested audience.
  • How often do they post? The social influencer whom you choose should post frequently. Frequent posts are a sign of activity. Activity attracts – and holds – followers' attention. Social influencers who post infrequently fail to hold their followers' attention.
  • How often do their followers interact with them? Lots of likes, comments, and shares indicate that the social influencers' content is not only attention-grabbing but also successful. Successful content inspires followers to engage with the social influencer's posts.
  • Do they have loyal followers? Loyal followers are the first ones to like and comment on social influencers' new posts. Loyal followers like each post, and they always have something to say about it. In essence, they hang onto the social influencer's every picture, video, and word.
  • Do they have any questionable posts? Most people, including social influencers, have posted something embarrassing on social media at one time or another. However, a social influencer who perpetually makes questionable posts is not a social influencer you want to represent you. In fact, that kind of social influencer could potentially hurt your brand image.
  • Are they genuine? Social influencers gain a following because they are earnest in their interests and opinions. Consumers enjoy reading or listening to what social influencers have to say. Because social influencers are so honest, consumers trust their opinions