The integration of game-like elements in non-gaming settings has helped brands get unparalleled interaction within their communities.
Intrigued about how this is done? Dive in to uncover how gamification could be the key to boosting community engagement?
For Bettermode's most recent webinar, we were thrilled to host Andrew Claremont, who is the Head of Community at Glide. Before stepping into his role at Glide, Andrew was the Head of Global Community Operations at GoDaddy for seven years. He’s no stranger to the nuances of building and nurturing digital communities across the globe.
Glide has always been at the forefront of engaging communities with its innovative tools and platforms. Glide, the no-code app builder, has unique offerings that enable users to create applications with ease, fostering a sense of creativity and collaboration among its vast user base.
In this webinar: "Mastering Gamification Strategies for Brand Communities", Andrew shared insights into how brands, much like Glide, can incorporate gamification techniques to invigorate their communities.
Here is the recording of the webinar:
Drawing from his rich experiences, he delved deep into strategies that not only engage community members but also ensure their sustained interest and participation. As community-driven growth continues to be a pivotal strategy, insights from experts like Andrew are truly invaluable.
The essence of community and gamification
Understanding community and gamification requires diving into the heart of human interaction and motivation. At the intersection of these two, we find a dynamic synergy that can catalyze engagement and foster loyalty.
What is community?
Andrew believes that defining a community is straightforward: it's a "connected group of people with something in common." Drawing from his experience, he believes that for brand communities, this commonality is typically their use of a brand's product or service.
Understanding gamification and how it ties into community
For Andrew, gamification is deeply personal, a trip down memory lane to his early days in the world of online gaming. In the late '90s and early 2000s, Andrew was engrossed in games like Quake, Grand Theft Auto, and World of Warcraft. These gaming roots are what drew him into the world of online communities.
Intrinsic motivation stems from the inherent joy and fulfillment one gets from participating — the act of participation is the reward.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is driven by external rewards, such as promotions, perks, or points.
For Andrew, effective gamification successfully marries these two types of motivation, taking cues from popular games that are both inherently enjoyable and offer tangible rewards.
Applying game mechanics to communities
Distilling the principles of game design to their essence, there are three key elements we can borrow for community programs:
Clear goals: Every game or community needs a focal point or objective. Participants should know their purpose, the rewards of achieving it, and the path to get there. Whether it's aiming for the center in skee ball, defeating the opponent in chess, or vanquishing the raid boss in World of Warcraft, the goal is always clear. To set the goals in your community, ask questions like:
What do you want your members to do?
What will they receive for completing the challenge?
Rules and mechanics: Every game operates within a framework. In chess, it's the board and its pieces; in communities, it's the expectations set for members. Rules outline what's allowed, what actions to take, and what boundaries not to cross.
Progression: Players need feedback on their progress. This could be through leaderboards in bowling, high scores in pinball, or rank advancements in games like Call of Duty Warzone. It's about ensuring that members or players can gauge their journey towards a predetermined goal.
Gamification, when well-executed, can seamlessly bridge the gap between the joy of participation and the allure of rewards, driving engagement and community growth.
Case study: How Glide applied gamification to its community
At Glide, the journey into gamification began modestly. For a long time, the Glide Community thrived on intrinsic motivation. With an incredible response rate and an engaged group of contributors who selflessly addressed inquiries, the community was dynamic even without any structured gamification.
But over the summer, Andrew and the Glide team started experimenting with "Community Challenges" to further drive engagement.
Here's how they approached it:
Golden reward: For each new challenge, they identified a clear goal. Initially, they invited members to craft apps using Glide, showcased them on social media, and later organized a G2 review-a-thon, where participants wrote reviews for Glide on G2.
Rules and mechanics: Every challenge had a clear set of guidelines, including participation methods, deadlines, and success criteria.
Progression: To track participation, they used spreadsheets, mapping reviews to community members or monitoring social media mentions and connecting them back to the community handles.
They expanded this model through the summer and are already brainstorming the next wave for Q4.
Additional examples of how brands implement gamification
But Glide isn't alone. Many brands have found success in gamification:
A comprehensive program that lets Salesforce users complete courses, earning credentials and prizes. The rules and mechanics are handled via their Trailhead LMS, and participants earn points and badges displayed on their profiles. The blending of education with community, as Andrew believes, can truly make gamification shine.
“Additionally, Andrew states “education and community go hand-in-hand. Both are on-demand resources for customers to learn about your product.”
Nike's Community Initiatives
Rather than a traditional loyalty program, Nike created platforms like the Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club. Members get access to exclusive content and rewards, but more importantly, they're part of a broader community where their training activities are tracked.
Andrew's personal takeaway? Many loyalty programs, like the Starbucks card system, come close to perfect gamification.
The only missing ingredient? Connecting members to one another. If these loyalty programs integrated a sense of community, they could unlock a realm of potential.
Another standout in the community space is Gong. Their "Gong Visioneers" community houses various programs like the Influencer Club and Gong Academy, all under a single banner. This centralized approach, which Andrew appreciates from his time at GoDaddy, simplifies the user experience. Instead of navigating multiple platforms, users have a unified gateway to the Gong community.
Traditional methods vs. modern techniques
Over the past few decades, the traditional approach to applying gamification to online communities has been relatively consistent: points, titles, and badges associated with specific platforms.
Points, titles, and badges associated with specific platforms: do things to earn virtual status symbols on your member profile
Isolated platforms: activity tracking and gamification limited to a single platform. It does not include social media interactions, other communities, and even offline activities.
Disconnected data: Your community data sits in silos, blocking you from potential valuable insights.
In today's world, communities are no longer confined to one location or platform. Andrew highlights how community members now engage on various platforms, from social media and forums to offline events.
Historically, gamification has been bound to a single platform. While members would earn points and badges for posting on forums, this limited approach didn't encompass the broad spectrum of community experiences.
Modern communities have touchpoints spanning platforms like Eventbrite for event registrations, Zoom for webinars, and many more. Unfortunately, this dispersion led to disconnected data across platforms.
Drawing parallels from the gaming world, Andrew cites the example of Call of Duty's War Zone 2.0. They clearly lay out the rewards players can earn, establishing a model that could be adopted by community platforms. It's essential to be transparent about the goals and rewards available, ensuring members are aware of how they can achieve recognition.
Salesforce Trailblazers, for instance, do a commendable job at this with their Trailhead platform. Here is how to approach gamification in a better way:
Offer recognition in different forms
When it comes to extrinsic motivations in community building, Andrew refers to the SAPS model:
Stuff: Material or immaterial rewards with tangible value like merchandise or gift cards.
Access: Exclusive opportunities to connect with people, places, or knowledge.
Power: Additional capabilities within the community or product, which members can earn through active participation.
Status: Exclusive ranks and titles that are significant within the community but might not hold value outside of it.
Track activity across different platforms
To foster engagement across different platforms, community managers should look beyond just the discussions on their forums. By tracking participation in hosted events, product usage milestones, and even participation in social media challenges or offline activations, you can get a holistic view of a member's involvement. Gong, for example, gamifies its referral system by tracking and rewarding customer referrals.
Connect and consolidate data
In terms of data management, Andrew acknowledges that while small communities might manage with manual tracking using spreadsheets, larger communities would benefit from automated systems.
Tools like Zapier can help stitch together disparate data sources, and turnkey solutions like Common Room can automatically track activities across multiple channels to give a consolidated view of a member's impact.
In essence, the modern approach to community-building requires a broader, more integrative perspective. Recognizing and rewarding members across various touchpoints is crucial, with game design principles providing invaluable insights.
Diving deep into Glide's community strategy
Glide has meticulously crafted a progressive model for its community. Every interaction, from events to YouTube activities, and even social media and forum engagements, is meticulously monitored. They utilize CommonRoom, a platform that consolidates every member's activity across multiple touchpoints. This comprehensive view ensures the Glide team is always in tune with our community's pulse.
Glide Community Champions initiative
Andrew shared an exciting initiative, the "Glide Community Champions". This is an exclusive cohort for the most engaged members. Entry is application-based, ensuring that those truly passionate about Glide are recognized.
- Onboarding Champions: Once on board, these champions are provided with gamified tasks. These range from content creation, community support, and referrals, to even contributions to Glide’s documentation.
- Incentives: And with every task, there's an enticing incentive waiting for them.
Rewarding the community
When discussing rewards, Andrew highlighted the brand merchandise, account credits, and the innovative methods they've adopted for distribution.
- Merchandise distribution: Glide has partnered with platforms like SwagUp, which facilitates seamless shipping of branded merchandise. Whether it’s a curated gift box or standalone items, SwagUp ensures efficient delivery.
- Gift cards: Another platform, Tremendous, specializes in offering gift cards. Whether it's a generic Visa card or a vendor-specific one like Starbucks, they've got it covered.
The overarching strategy is clear: nurture members by recognizing their active participation, elevate the most dedicated ones through the Champions program, and ensure they feel valued with tangible rewards. Using platforms like CommonRoom, SwagUp, and Tremendous, Glide ensures this process is seamless, effective, and rewarding for everyone involved.
Harnessing gamification: The Bettermode blueprint
Andrew also highlighted the foundational gamification features of Bettermode — points, profiles, and participatory metrics.
One distinguishing element is Bettermode's modern design and customization capabilities. With its unique Design Studio, administrators can craft exclusive Spaces within their communities. Members are given access to specific Spaces as rewards for various achievements or participations. These Spaces can become hubs for special content, direct interactions with the team, or other exclusive opportunities.
Andrew is particularly discussed Bettermode's suite of native integrations—apps and embeds. These provide the capability to incorporate additional features seamlessly, linking the Bettermode community directly with a product. It's more than just integrations; it's about driving actions, stimulating participation, and enhancing the user experience.
Apart from direct integrations, Bettermode's Zapier integration offers the power to recognize activities both within and outside the Bettermode community, triggering synchronized responses in other platforms, from swag giveaways to other engagements.
However, no platform can solve everything. Andrew shares a core belief that while no single platform can encapsulate everything, Bettermode comes exceptionally close. The objective is crafting a stack of tools, each tailored for specific needs, all working in harmony. This automation and efficient orchestration enable brands to scale, transitioning from rudimentary community programs to sophisticated operations integral to the business goal.
Andrew's holistic gamification strategy is an amazing example of how brands should engage their communities. Seamlessly blending gaming elements with community outreach, brand communities can foster an environment where active participation meets genuine interaction.