The Gamification of Social Media

The Gamification of Social Media

The Gamification of Social Media

The Gamification of Social Media

Robert Nissenbaum (follow him on Twitter at @RNissenbaumof Tactical Social Media recently wrote a post about fun being the ROI of social media, which made me think. We’re all intrigued by fun, but can it lead to more business? If you read the statistics on how many hours people spend playing games, with every subsequent generation spending more time and money, then you’d say it makes a lot of sense. For instance, Millennials spend 1.47 hours a day playing games, according to the Wall Street Journal. 1.47 hours!

Anything Can Be Gamified

Gamification is the practice of adding gamelike elements to reward behavior in a non-game setting. Think: getting points every time you brush your teeth.Or an award for doing the laundry. Or washing the car. I’d like a prize for doing the dishes! Also: can someone please make music come out of the soap dispenser? Please and thank you.


Foursquare is one of the first social media platforms that made social more fun. With its location-based checkins, badges, mayorships, and points, Foursquare gave users a way to measure excitement during outings. Foursquare’s explosive success has led to its morphing into a company that rewards its users in different ways now, without the intense competition that led to its early success. Still, the idea of play and social became intertwined with Foursquare.

Are Fun and Serious Work At War?

Are Fun and Serious Work At War?

Are Fun and Serious Work At War?

Fun and serious work can coexist peacefully. Playing games at work or playing games for work is possible when the purpose is to get work done. Many people experience a “flow experience” from playing music. And a game player achieves that same “flow” while playing a game. So why not play games at work? In fact, as Mario Herger explains “with new times there are new tools. And “Sales gamification platforms are one new set of tools that you can use.”

Could Gamification Work with Social Media?

Among your co-workers, how about running contests for the post with the biggest reach, or the most comments? You might consider giving away movie tickets, a night out, or a board game as a gift for the tweet or post that creates the most “likes” on a company account. Of course, the playing field would need to be level for each instance. You could also give away a prize for the best tweet during a tweetchat. Here’s a post about Twitter Chats: 101 tips for success.

Gamification Makes Us Smarter

Gabe Zichermann, in his excellent TED talk on gamification, explains how kids, given a game-based curriculum, improved in math and science from a third-grade level to a mid-fourth grade level. And the kids, when interviewed, say that “learning is fun.” He underlines that for Gen G (Millennials and those growing up on games), their primary form of entertainment is games or a game-like environment. And he recommends that we all get in the game so that we can understand kids. You might also like this article about how the San Francisco Giants can improve your game.

Gotta Go

So excuse me but I’ve got to get back to World of Warcraft! If it would be fun for you, leave me a comment. Thank you!




  1. I LOVE the idea of ‘gamification’. Your reference to creating contests to drive more employee involvement on social is wonderful. I’ve worked with companies with multiple locations and have designed campaigns around ‘location wars’. Wonderful concept and thank you for the mention.

    • Thanks for the inspiration, Robert!

      Of course, the games would need to be created so everyone had an equal chance. Maybe have prizes given out privately or maybe in teams of people so that those with large followings wouldn’t be ahead before the games began? It would require some design work so people wouldn’t feel excluded.


  2. I feel like 1.47 is a low number—I definitely put it more than that when I can :P

    And if you really play WOW, you’re my new best friend (even though I haven’t played in like 4 years).

    I’m so glad to see a super nintendo controller in your picture—plus 5000 points!

    On a serious note, I think the problem with gamification (at least, the reasons it’s never been enticing to me) is that the games aren’t fun enough, and the reason they’re not fun enough is they’re not real games (or not well thought out enough). They tend to be half-assed and aren’t very engaging. It’s one thing when you’re a captive audience (kids in school) then yeah, you might as well enjoy the game cause you have no choice, but when I’m out in the world and I have many extremely engaging games to choose from, doing something on social media just doesn’t appeal.

    That being said, I probably fall into a “heavier” gamer category than most people. I see lots of people playing games on social media that I would never play because they seem shallow to me.

    …oh my god, I think I’m a game snob!

    I’ll just stop here. Thanks for the post friend! Great topic.

    • Hi Adam,

      Maybe two other people quit playing so you could get your five hours in!

      Glad you like the Super Nintendo controller!

      Yep, the games need to be really fun–fun enough so that they “stop time.” That’s why we can play games for hours and not realize what time it is. If social media could be THAT fun, we’d always be posting. I’ll bet someone is working on that right now.

      The truly “social” games seem to have fallen by the wayside (Farmville and Cityville, etc.). They seemed to border on spam, and that wasn’t good.

      Right now, I’m into Midnight, a puzzle game. I like the slow pace. It cracks me up that my bf’s kid says it’s boring and tries to shut it down when I play.

      Maybe you could write about being a game snob! That would be a great post.



      • That is not a bad idea! I feel like I’m so busy playing games that I don’t write :P never enough time is there? Sounds like a post of yours I just read…

        • Hey, Adam!

          What if writing/blogging could be a game, though? Like points and pop-ups that would say “Great sentence! Write another one!” And you’d get extra bonus points for using semicolons and finding the secret words for SEO. Oh, boy.

          If only.


  3. This post is for me.

    This is how I get all of my work done. I make it into a self-competition. How many tweets can I tweet during this talk? How fast can I process these invoices?

    I don’t really play video games (Scrabble, Dots) but I think this is a great way to self-motivate.


    I love this post.

    • Hi Bridget,

      I love that you gamify your own experiences! We all need to amuse ourselves, right? We could all take a cue from you and compete more with ourselves.

      By the way, did you know there’s a Super Scrabble? It’s a larger board with more tiles. It took us about two hours to play!

      Thank you for the comment!


  4. Lisa Eldridge says

    You can totally find musical soap dispensers. They are all over Amazon, for example.

    So what do I win?

  5. Excellent article, Carol. Well-designed games are certainly a great way to promote healthy competition among co-workers. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at

  6. Another entertaining post Carol, thank you – saving this for sure. Your DigiBlogChat is so fun, it feels like a game!

  7. Ajay Raj Rajan says

    A totally awesome post this one is! Thanks for doing it and sharing. I guess I was till sometime back a gamer at work and then I got little too serious and lost the fun part. I guess I gonna get it back. Also Gamifying kids learning is a powerful idea. Someone Pl do suggest where can I get some more dope on this bit. I have got two young boys who can benefit from this idea. Thanks in advance!

    Take care,

    • Hello Ajay,

      Yes, kids in particular love to have everything gamified. If they can get points for brushing their teeth or doing their chores, why not? Maybe it’s the equivalent of us getting stickers or candies (although kids still like those, too!).

      And with electronic devices like FitBits, adults can also have some fun getting points and having competitions with their friends!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!



  1. […] love Carol Stephen’s (be sure to follow her on Twitter at @Carol_Stephen) ‘gamification’ take on how social and fun are intertwined – or should […]

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