miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013

Gamification: What If They Don't Want to Play?

3 simple strategies to get your players in the game

How to make your employees use that expensive and fun software? What can I do if my readers don't feel like signing up for my blog game? Or how to get kids to play that really cool school game?

Your gamified experience is ready to be played and all of a sudden, no one wants to do so.  From now on, take this into account for gamification design: some people won't be as willing to play as you expected at first.

Last week, I gave a workshop for +50 people at #EBE13 in Sevilla, the second biggest event of Social Media and Blogs in Europe with more than 3000 guys attending, and one of the main things we did there, was to work on how to effectively get your players in the game, because if you miss the chance to engage them at once, you'll probably lose them forever.

So we asked ourselves one question: can we think of some simple strategies to get people to use our gamified platform? And the answer involved 3 things: Storytelling, Growth Hacking and The Lonely Dancer Effect.

Let's see each one of them in further detail...

Tell them an epic story

One of our best and most effective strategies was to tell a great story. It might seem a bit simple to you, but storytelling is a really powerful tool. Just think of how many worlwide famous startups got invested for their first time thanks to thrilling elevator pitches or why only some online videos go extremely viral while the others are left behind. Probably, it has to do with storytelling. So if we are going to tell a nice story... what kind of elements should we include in it?

Here are some great tricks to make it better:

- Start with a hook: epic stories always include some eye-catching moment in the very beginning to get the public into the story's magic circle. So whenever you start telling your story, begin with a funny moment, a jaw-dropping fact or some kind of moving moment. If you are to start using some kind of new gamified software in your company, show them all how cool it is in the very first minute, and how much it will change their daily tasks if they'd used it! 

- Tell them why: You got their attention, now it's time for you to get their interest. A very important step when advancing in your story is to tell your public why you gamified your platform, and how that's going to help them, or the ways they can benefit from it. Think for a moment about any of the last gamified platforms you saw, how many of them showed you at once what you'd win if you started playing? And how many were successful in doing so? 

- Call to action: No great story ends without an energetic or even subtle call to action. The call to action is the real purpose of your story, what you want people to do, or what you have tried to communicate during the whole narration, it's what you really want to achieve. 
If you are using a gamified platform on your site and you want users to create a profile and start playing, that's what your whole story should encourage! 

Foster a win-win growth hacking strategy

People just don't like signing up, that's a fact. Creating a new account somewhere means new passwords, new usernames, new mail notifications, and more boring stuff that you don't really want to put up with. But! Things can totally change if there's some reason to do so, and that's what we are trying to do with growth hacking!

In the very beginning of something, it's quite difficult to get the users to sign up or start using something new. That amount is usually called a "critical mass" and it's quite difficult to get to that point soon. Even if your storytelling convinced the players, if their motivation remains low, there's not that much you can do. When Dropbox or Iversity started up, they didn't have as many users as they do nowadays but... how did they get to that point? 

Both of these platforms offered a win-win system where people invited other friends to join, and every part got some kind of reward from it. It's a classical triangular relationship where the platform offers some type of incentives for existing users to invite new ones, and they both earn something (could be a direct reward or just the pleasure to discover a new great thing). It's a very simple strategy and works terrifically (good)!

So if you want people to join you gamified system, try offering a win-win mechanic where people can invite their friends to join; or you can even design it in a way that old users have to invite new ones to unlock special content. There are way many more possibilities but whatever you do, make it worthy for both new and old players!

Use the lonely dancer effect!

There's not that much to tell you about this strategy but one thing: JUST WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Already saw it? It's quite an old one but you can apply this kind of lesson to almost everything that has to do with crowds doing something. 

In the beginning, people will be afraid to use your platform, they won't have time, they'll tell you it's not the time for playing, or that the game is boring without them even trying it! And it might be that they are right but... not always, because people, simply don't feel like trying new stuff until others tell them it's great.

So if you want your players to join the game, be the first one in doing so! You'll probably gain some few users by then, so encourage them too, make them feel special and let them show others how fun it is!

Because at the end of the day, good stuff always spreads around through word of mouth but sometimes, it's already too late for us. So using these 3 great techniques, storytelling, growth hacking and the lonely dancer effect,  will help you avoid that!

Victor Manrique

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