5 examples of brands that use gamification to win

Though the term may seem trendy or overused, the use of games to help brand initiatives can connect companies to consumers and earn big rewards.

Gamification—applying game design (such as interactive scenarios, badges, or competitions) to campaigns in order to make them more engaging and fun—may sound like an overused term, but it’s here to stay.

In fact, brands that have moved past loyalty programs and embraced gamification have met goals and increased engagement, all through a few clicks or game pieces. Here are five examples of gamification success stories:

McDonald’s Monopoly encourages consumers to play with food

It seems like everyone has taken part in McDonald’s yearly Monopoly game, which isn’t surprising considering it started in 1987.

The fast-food chain doesn’t change the game—some things are just classics—but it offers up new prizes each year.

For example, big contest winners could nab a smartphone with virtual money or a Delta vacation, while instant winners have a chance to win Redbox rentals, Hulu Plus subscriptions, and Target gift cards with their food.

If you’re wondering if this offline game works for the brand, just ask the scores of folks buying McDonald’s burgers and fries for a month just to score the coveted Boardwalk piece.

Fitbit gamifies health care

The concept of losing weight and reaching healthy goals is more interesting when you put it against the backdrop of a competition.

Fitbit is an app that enables users to set step, weight, and activity goals, and record workouts, food intake, and even sleep. Users can connect with friends on the platform and share their stats, compete for leaderboard positions, and send cheers (or jeers) within a few clicks.

ABI Research estimates the number of wearable devices will increase from 16.2 million in 2011 to 93 million in 2017. Each of these devices will pair with a fitness or wellness app in order to encourage users’ activity as well as offer incentives.

The biggest incentive for all of this, however, is the community. Brands that take advantage of a group of supporters will find their users more motivated to participate.

U.S. Army recruits through virtual reality

One of the U.S. Army’s newest recruitment techniques involves a virtual reality game to entice people to join the ranks.

Using a multiplayer tactical shooter game wasn’t just realistic, it was also controversial. The game itself has been the subject of ethical discussions, but Col. Casey Wardinsky said the game not only avoids national security secrets, but is cognizant of those who have lost loved ones in battle.

“There is a fine line and you don’t want to step over it,” Wardinsky said. “We steer clear of glamorizing war or taking advantage of current events.”

Club Psych makes viewers part of the action

More and more television shows encourage viewers to take part in the “second screen” experience by tweeting during broadcasts or viewing network extras. Brand managers for USA’s “Psych” went further than a few tweets.

An entire club was created, where fans could take part in challenges, earn rewards, buy merchandise, and compete to be on the top of the leaderboard.

The network’s website traffic increased by 30 percent and online merchandise sales grew 50 percent. USA’s marketers estimated it reached 40 million users on Facebook, which helped its website page views grow by 130 percent.

“You can’t ask for a stronger metric for success than this type of overwhelming fan engagement,” Jesse Redniss, USA’s vice president of digital, said.

RYOT and +SocialGood reward for social good sharing

RYOT, a news site geared towards millennials, adds an action to the end of every story. Readers can click to learn more about an organization, donate money to a cause, or register to volunteer with a nonprofit.

The +SocialGood community takes things one step further by inviting participants to share posts and causes on social media, earning them community points and a potential spot on the leaderboard.

Both organizations have seen an influx of a younger demographic interested in topics, causes, and news that they normally wouldn’t have seen prior to the friendly, engaging formats.

It might feel good just to do something for others, but it feels even better to get a virtual pat on the back.

M2 Research estimates more than $2 billion will be spent on gamification services by 2015, but Brian Burke from Garner Group says 80 percent of branded projects will fail unless they’re designed thoughtfully.

When injecting fun into a campaign, brand managers should not only think of the design and function of the game, but also its potential players.

Join us in our #RaganSocial Twitter chat Tuesday at 2 p.m. Central Time as we talk to Gabe Zichermann, editor of Gamification Corp.

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