Gamification is a hot topic these days. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to taking the motivational and reward aspects of video games and adding them to non-game places, such as websites, software, etc. Many popular apps (such as Foursquare) put you in head-to-head competition with your peers to earn badges or status levels based on your activity.
In July 2012 we added gamification into our own online community, Topliners. Prior to this we did have the concept of points and status levels in Topliners, but users didn’t have any clear idea how they compared to their peers. With the launch of the gamification module came a “leaderboard” on the home page that allowed users to see their rank in the community of 7000 users and who their nearest competition were. We also launched the concept of badges: little image icons that appear on a user’s profile page in the community as they complete a series of activities.
As the community moderator and the one who made the purchase decision for the gamification module I fully expected it to help increase engagement on the community (or I wouldn’t have bought it!) but even I have been surprised by the increase in activity on our site since its launch.
In the chart you’ll see that from January through July 2012 we had a fairly steady number of active users per week on the site, despite the fact that our number of registered users grows by about 30% per month. You’ll even notice the summer lull that started in June and continued through mid-July that we experience each year. But check out the 55% spike in average active users in mid-July: that was the week that we launched the gamification changes on our community. Since then we’ve seen continued excellent growth in activity and engagement on our site.