There is no denying that most people believe in supporting worthwhile causes, but when it comes to buzz words like organic, green and sustainability, consumers find it hard to imagine how they, as individuals, could even begin to make a difference. It is one thing for consumers to quietly approve of a good cause, but quite another for them to actually answer a call to action—a discrepancy that can be boiled down to one question. How do we, as social game developers, motivate the consumer?
According to The National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavior Science, in a study evaluating the impact of instructional media on retention, learners remember only five percent of what they hear in a lecture, 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they review of computer-based training, 50 percent if they participate in a discussion group, and 75 percent if they do the job themselves, even if they do it as a simulation.
Simulation—like a game, perhaps?
The numbers prove it: an interactive approach is most probable to result in high-impact learning and bring about real change in consumer behavior. That’s where interactive social games come in: they both entertain and reward consumers for agreeing to support a brand. As a consumer, it’s most often welcomed when entertained and rewarded in an appealing manner—the key word being appealing, of course.
Consider these six strategies that work to motivate consumers in the social gaming realm:
- Use play and win to strengthen call to action
When it comes to offering players value in exchange for their participation in a social game, the chance to play a game and actually win a prize presents a stronger call to action than a simple invitation to simply click through a website.
Example: Would an individual be more likely to peruse a website about environmentalism or play a game on Facebook with in-game points and other perks? Which type of exposure would motivate him or her to absorb relevant information more effectively? The answer: a fun game that presents opportunity for reward in both the game and real world.
- Promote prizes that consumers want
Like offline promotions, interactive promotions offer concrete, reward-based motivations to engage with the game: the chance to play and the chance to win. Unlike offline promotions, they reach consumers where they increasingly are—online.
There’s no denying that our environment is overwhelmed by media and marketing, and this has certainly ushered in a new value exchange between brand and consumer. Today, a brand has to deliver far more when it comes to incentives and rewards in return for consumers’ attention. The social gaming realm is no different.
In-game prizes can range from power-ups, virtual currency and the ability to unlock new levels, but any prize must ensure that players reap benefits within the game. If players aren’t chomping at the bit to support a game’s larger cause, a quicker route to victory will undoubtedly peak interest.
- Introduce different rewards for different levels of participation
Offering increased chances to win within a social game is a critical in motivating consumer response, both in terms of participation and driving behavior. Consider the ways players could interact with the game through an interactive promotion: they could purchase a product or service, enter a promotional code, refer friends to the game or post a web link on their personal social media sites. These are simple and effective tactics – especially in a digital age where everyone is plugged in.
By tying different rewards to different levels of participation, game developers can engage a broad audience at a basic while also encouraging the most motivated consumers to extend their engagement within the campaign.
- Practice appealing brand integration
Motivate players with in-game brands that they know and love. When it comes to brand marketing, social games offer a much deeper level of integration than print, television or radio ads—their interactive nature alone allows for greater consumer impact over any form of quick exposure.
The key to increasing consumer awareness is integrating brands that have aligning values with the game itself. To avoid brand integration detracting from gameplay, all brand names must make complete sense within the context of the game.
- Invest in outstanding content
At its core, the internet requires consumers to actively interact with content by asking them to make choices and engage deeply with the content they select. In a sea of online content and social games, yours has to be good. When faced with a multitude of options, consumers will ignore what they don’t find entertaining.
Always note that today’s consumer can choose how, when and where they will engage with a brand. Having been raised in a digital age, children are especially accustomed to being entertained at the click of a mouse. From music and video games to social media, a good cause is bound to take on a new appeal when presented in a fun and familiar format. Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to respect innovative games that value them as partners and participants and reward them for interest and engagement.
- Choosing gaming over gamification
When it comes to motivating the consumer, it’s essential to note a trending buzzword: gamification. At its core, the concept attempts to embellish reality with a layer of game-like levels and rewards that people can do and earn, ultimately coming out as winners having beat the game of their own life.
Gamification essentially frames life to be a large, infinite game; however, the most compelling games are anything but infinite. In fact, they are completely enclosed as reality is impossible to predict. By equating a game with reality, gamification attempts to tear down a game’s enclosure. If gamification is 20 to 30 percent about the game and 70 to 80 percent about applying game mechanics to real-world markets or segments, social games should take the opposite approach—a majority focus on the fun, social components.
At Guerillapps, we hit the ground running with a mission to motivate players to develop sustainable practices in the real world. Our approach? Implementing motivational tactics through a fun, casual game with opportunity for real-world impact. We firmly believed something as simple as a social game where players earn points for doing good in the real world is capable of changing people’s behavior for the better—and we’ve seen real results.
At the heart of any marketing effort is one ultimate goal: to motivate consumers to be moved to action. If this isn’t achieved, it doesn’t matter how creative or intelligent the approach. So what’s the key to lasting change in social gaming? Capitalizing on a medium that allows consumers to act and to participate within a fun, casual medium. At the end of the day, everyone wins.
Raviv Turner is the co-founder and CEO of Guerillapps, a Manhattan-based social gaming startup that is applying proven social gameplay to the health & sustainability markets. With 10 years of game and interactive entertainment experience, Turner and his team have recently launched Trash Tycoon, the first-ever social game to raise awareness and change consumer recycling behavior.