*Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is applied to improve user engagement, return on investment, data quality, timeliness, and learning.
Does this ring a bell? I am not talking about gamification in the way it might pertain to a game such as farmville on facebook. I mean the game we play as marketers on having presence in social media. The more I learn about digital marketing and social media, the more it becomes clear that it is set up in a way to be a game for adults and businesses a like. This is really fascinating, that not only is this form of marketing efficient, but that the whole premise is that of a game. In a sense I suppose it always has been a game. We as marketers have always wanted to generate awareness and convert target markets to customers, but the landscape in how we convey are messages is continually changing. One big factor now, is the growing access to internet via smartphones. The internet has leveled the playing field with consumers and businesses. Consumers are more informed and have many options to choose from. We as marketers needed a way to evolve with the changing times, that evolution has largely come from engaging people through social media. It is almost impossible to run a business today without an internet presence of some degree. Here is an example of what a new company might want to do to be relevant in today’s paradigm.
Let’s say brand “X” is a new company, or maybe just new to having an online presence. How might social media work for business “X” ? First you and your marketing guru might want to get together and see what your target market does while they are on the internet. More specifically what kinds of social media do they use and the frequency of use. Once we know that, we have an idea of how we can engage. Brand “X” will then set up profiles and start publishing content, linking, liking, executing best SEO practices which will be heavily reliant on the Google updates, responding to comments, building relationships with potential customers in the hopes that not only will they “like” us, one day we will convert them to purchasers. If we are really lucky they will become advocates and spread positive WOM. Sounds almost too good to be true. Here are some things that brand “X” needs to be aware of:
Social Media and these relationships take a lot of cultivating. Cultivation takes time. We engage, we post helpful content, we post things of interest, we show the human side of business, we blog, we link, we write everything in HTML, we use words closely related in content to drive search results, we measure. This is the game, not only do we do all the things listed above, we must do them in a meaningful way that engages our audience. Let’s not forget the fierce competition or the parameters set by search engines such as Google. There are a lot of moving parts and rules to using social media within context. To give you an idea of how important social media can be, one start-up that our class recently talked to generated majority of revenue from twitter and facebook alone! If you are a business that is on a budget, looking to maximize everything then social media is a game you want to be proficient at. It is demanding and ever changing, but if you put in the work, odds are that you are going to see an increase to your ROI.
So how do we measure? Social media wouldn’t be much of a game if there wasn’t a way to measure our actions. We have metrics for just about everything these days, from Analytics to Klout. We can measure the traffic to our sites, our social media pages, our blogs. Klout measures your social media influence. It is a rating system from 1-100.The general rule is the higher your Klout the higher your marketability. Meaning you have a larger audience to speak to. Interesting funfact, Justin Bieber and Barrack Obama have two of the highest Klout scores. Klout is an ongoing measurement. If you go on vacation and stop tweeting, or posting on various social media sites, chances are your Klout score will drop substantially.
There is a lot of overlap in the world of digital marketing. The main goal for a business in social media is to create an audience that it can engage with, in hopes of the audience developing a preference for their brand and ultimately becoming users. There are many guidelines out there. Companies dedicated to solely providing tools and consulting to help you reach your online goals. We as marketers want to have the most followers on twitter, the most pins on pinterest, the most likes on facebook, the biggest circles on google+, the most comments on blog posts, great website rankings, and we want it all to work with one another in telling the story of our brand. This is the game that we as marketers need to familiarize ourselves with because it is a part of most business strategies that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Here is an infographic that I found interesting as well about people in the industry and their feelings on SEO.