An introduction to gamification

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Understanding why users participate in an online community helps us determine how to engage them, get them to return, and increase their participation. This is where Gamification comes in.

Gamification involves applying gaming elements to the community to motivate and reward your customers for performing certain desired actions. It is one of the best ways to engage your members and keep them coming back for more, by creating incentives for continued participation.

inSided has developed three mechanisms to implement gamification principles in your online community: likes, badges and ranks. New visitors to your community will quickly realise that there are gaming elements on the community. For example, by having a widget on your homepage showing the latest badges won by other users, and by having the rank title of users shown on their profile icons. Each of the Gamification mechanisms aim to reward members fairly and consistently according to their participation level on the community.


Likes are one of the more social elements on the community and a way to show appreciation for others contributions. They give users a feel good factor especially when helping others. On the community you see which members have liked your posts, whether its for your helpfulness or wittiness.


Badges are generally used to highlight the expertise of users, but can also be used to reward new users first activities in a fun manner. They are shown in the profile tooltips when you hover on any user in a topic, so they are a very visible element.


Ranks can be used for longer term purposes as they allow you to identify your biggest brand advocates who are instrumental for a thriving community. It is advised to let members get a rank from their first, second and then fifth login. By doing so, members are immediately aware of the rank system and understand that it is based on their level of activity. The steps to climb up the ranks should then get bigger and bigger (and harder). For example, to get to one of the higher ranks a user should have answered a certain amount of questions. This way, the users with a higher rank have more intrinsic motivations to come back to the community, so more can be asked of them.

Using gamification to influence customer behaviour to help achieve business goals

By aligning the gamification elements with your organizational goals, it is possible to use gamification to help achieve these business goals.

Creating badges that are directly related to your business goals, can inspire certain customer behaviour. For example, a service community that wants to reduce the amount of calls for a specific product, should create an expert badge for that specific product. The badge shows the member has expertise in this area which builds trust, as people have a higher tendency to trust other members that are using the same products or services as them.

If you are interested in co-creation to save money by improving your products and services, the community is a good place for this. Using the rank system you can decide which users should be rewarded, for example, by giving members who reach a certain rank access to a hidden co-creation category.

By stimulating people to become more active through Gamification, there will be more content created and more answers provided based on the experience and knowledge of users. This helps reduce the amount of time moderators spend in answering questions, increases traffic and the increases the likelihood of the community becoming the primary source of information for clients.

Want to read a whitepaper about Gamification in your own time? Download the pdf here.

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