Gamification in Social Media Marketing

Trends are constantly changing within social media, but one of the hottest is gamification.

Gamification in Social Media Marketing

By now, everyone is familiar with gaming, either online or console based – and the reason gaming is so popular is because there are things which nearly universally appeal to all, and keep them coming back for more.

These same strategies can be laterally applied to social media marketing, and even other types of marketing with amazing results.

What is Gamification?

Gamification brings gaming mechanics into another sphere like marketing, or even employee incentive programs in order to engage people in a highly motivating way that feels personally rewarding.

Marketing like GIANTS

As brands have become more clever, integrating the use of apps alongside their social media efforts and website, interactive content has become the undefeated champion of marketing with plenty of huge examples to draw strategy from like Nike, Audi, M & M’s, Doritos and more.

The Science

It may help to get down to why this is so effective, and remains so. It’s a part of human psychology, and personality archetypes, whose behavior can be predicted with a fair amount of accuracy. 

Richard Bartle is a leader in gaming archetypes as they relate to human behavior and has research papers, writings and publications all available on his site. The one related to this article can be found here, but we will paraphrase for the sake of brevity.
*note* Where the term “MUD” appears, it is the acronym for multi user dungeon. 

Which Gaming Archetype(s) Are Your Clients?


Achievers in any game have very goal-oriented pursuits, whereby leveling, gaining points, or meeting other higher level/end game objectives, and all their actions in game relate to this single goal. They may dip into exploration as a means to an end, not purely for the sake of exploring out of curiosity. They may even socialize, but only to learn something which has blocked the path of that one single-minded objective. Killing other player’s characters is only used as necessary, not for any pure enjoyment out of the ‘thrill of the kill’ or to shout about how big, brave and bad they are.


Explorers are naturally curious about the online world around them, including all the random various bits including easter eggs left by the gaming company specifically for these types of people. They’re the collectors, who will gather things simply to have a full set, or collection in game. They are the people gaming companies love as testers, because they find all the bugs in the game, running to the far edges of maps to find out where the graphics break, or spots where they can get through, where they weren’t designed as being able to go, but for a bit of broken code. Their joy is discovery, and they don’t have time for achievements unless they’re part of a collection, or for killing other players unless they deliberately get in their way of their primary objective. They may socialize but only to find out if anyone else knows more than they do about their particular thread they’re following.


These players exist to communicate with others, and to share an online world with others in a way that is freeing from the trappings of boring reality, and may not even discuss real life in game with their character as a different persona altogether. Others may bring up reality as they create real life connections with other online personas, and take all their joy from being able to ‘hang out’ with these online friends just as much as their real life ones. They may dip into all the other archetypes circles, but only for the sake of commonality and needing to do something while chatting.


Killers are the people who are solely out for PVP (player vs player) content, or the trolls of the gaming world, who exist purely to make other’s online personas suffer, including (often) the person operating the keyboard. The more distressed the player, and the more hassled their character, the more joy these players get. Their only real goal is to cause suffering and misery, and to gain power as quickly as possible.

5 Ways to to Implement Gamification in Social Media

1. Badges & Rewards

Now that the archetypes have been explained, it may make more sense how to appeal to each of these personality types when using gamification in marketing strategy. People love to be given a reward for some action they have taken, even if what is being given away is virtually worthless. 

Consider Facebook’s “Top Fan” badges – some groups are split about using these in the first place, as they find it cheapens the quality of engagement, creating a situation where some people are being raised above others. It makes it appear like favoritism by the Page owner, when that’s not the case, it’s just the gamification technique used by Facebook to boost engagement.  If a business isn’t already utilizing the Top Fan badges, they may want to reconsider.

2. Challenging Objectives

Challenges matter little if the target group isn’t personalized in terms of targeting, because what will work for one age group or status, won’t for another.

Take what Audi did as a perfect real world example of this.  Back in 2013, they launched the A3 car and utilized a fully gamified campaign including an 18-wheeler carrying the car which would be guided by the real-time Tweets of Twitter users living in South Africa.

They promised that the truck would end up wherever gave the most Tweets, and in Johannesburg they made good on that promise, giving away that A3 to one of 3 finalists. During the 3 week campaign, over 11 thousand people entered, and within 5 hours Audi South Africa was already trending. Over 50,000 Tweets resulted in a massive impact on the brand, and all they had to do was figure out a clever way to give away a car.

3. Leaderboards

One great way to appeal to the achievers and the killers are to create leaderboards where they get joy from beating out others trying for the same thing. People as a species are decently competitive, and creating a way to track even insignificant achievements made by users is a great way to incentivize engagement.

4. Coordinated Efforts

Creating apps which go hand in hand with a website or social media site go a long way in pleasing people. Popular sporting brand Nike among others, has done this like with their Nike+ running app, which can track distance, pace, time and even the amount of calories burned with a GPS function built in. They’ve also worked in a way to compete with other users by having the ability to see how far others have traveled, similar to a leaderboard.

5. Quizzes

People also like interactive content that seeks out things about them, to tell them about themselves. “What type of fantasy character would you be” or “What animal is your spirit animal” are great examples of the types of quizzes people love to interact with. It appeals most to the socializers of the gaming world, but many will respond even those not interested in gaming at all.

More Companies to Learn From:

  • LinkedIn (Progress bar)
  • Hallmark (Facebook credits, gifting, sharing, free cards)
  • Foursquare (Badges & rewards)
  • Starbucks (Leveling & rewards)

The options for gamification in your social media marketing strategy implementation are only limited by a company’s own foresight, creativity, and adaptability.  Let’s see yours!