Gamification for Audience Engagement

If you’ve had any sort of social media position or engage with a social group online, you may have heard the term gamification. Gamification is just what it sounds like…making a game out of what you’re doing. More technically, gamification involves “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”

If you spend any time online, you see gamification everywhere. On this very forum, you can earn badges and user ranks by participating in activities like replying to forums, starting discussions, tagging and liking content. Social media platforms enable gamification through things like likes and rankings. The more likes you get on a post you make, the more the pleasure centers in your brain get actified for having something good happen to you.

So what does this mean for your YouTube channel? Quite often, creators believe that they are engaging in gamification when they do things like giveaways. While giving out prizes is an element of games, it’s actually been shown that the pursuit of rewards engages people more than the rewards themselves. Therefore, you may get a lot of people to enter a contest for, say, a new camera, but they won’t keep coming back to your channel after the contest is over. Therefore, it makes sense to figure out ways in which your viewers can earn small rewards regularly (or irregularly, as inconsistent rewarding can sometimes keep people engaged more than predictable results) that keep them coming back.

Many creators engage in this without perhaps knowing that they are setting up gamification. Anytime you reward your audience by paying attention to them for following a simple set of rules is a gamed engagement. The most basic one I can think of off the top of my head would be Question and Answer sessions, where users are asked to submit questions on another platform (Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) and then return to your channel to see if you’ll answer their question and mention their names. Other creators will hold sessions where they ask their audience to submit work (one channel I see does this brilliantly with a gallery of their subscribers’ artwork, shown every week for the “top 5 works this week”) to be shown to everyone else.

Top comments being read online, small shoutouts given where people try to gain your attention or approval…’s all a part of adding gamification elements to your videos.

This is the most basic overview of the process, and if you’re interested in researching more deeply about gamification, there are plenty of resources available online for you to check out.

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