As human beings we are naturally competitive creatures. We like to do well of course, but we particularly like to do well in relation to other people. A famous study for instance found that people would rather earn less money if it meant they were better paid in relation to their peers, than more money if their peers outranked them.
So how can you add a little competition to your community, and more importantly how can that competition help you to achieve your goals. That last point is important, because it’s really easy to go astray with this.
Most forum software for instance already comes with very simple means for measuring and ranking members based on things like their post count or their reputation score. That’s great, and believe me members do love to compete with each other on those kind of things, but it doesn’t really help your business. After all, you’re not in business to generate lots of posts on your community.
So lets step back a bit first of all. You have the purpose for your community right? This is your Social ROI. In other words it’s the thing you want users to be able to do when they use your community. So if it’s a customer support community you might want people to offer up great support. If it’s an idea market you might want folks to generate great ideas that get implemented. If it’s a developer community you want people to submit great plug-ins.
You see where we’re going here? Once you have your clear purpose in mind you then want to do five things:
- Define the rules - Naturally you want things to be fair and well understood, so provide clear guidance on how scores are achieved. In addition to making the competition fair, it also provides members with some background on what you want the community to achieve. When you’re looking to create a great culture, this is key.
- Track how many times your purpose has been achieved – This is crucial for both enabling the gamification but also for determining your communities ROI. Once you can track how many times your purpose has been achieved you can figure out how much money you’ve saved or whatever, and you have a nice figure for how valuable the community is.
- Rank members according to #1 – Once you have the total goals achieved, then you need to be able to assign each goal to a particular member, and rank them according to how successful they’ve been.
- Whip up the competition – You want these rankings to matter right? That way people start to compete for the top spot. So make sure you make the upper echelons of the ‘league table’ worth achieving. Maybe create a hall of fame of the best members, or give your leading members extra perks. This should be fun though, so make sure you maintain the fun and excitement of competing.
- Assess your progress – As with any project you need to see how it’s gone, so make sure you allocate some time for this. It may be that you need to highlight wins more frequently to encourage others to help, or do more to celebrate the stars of your community. Constant evolution of the competition will ensure it’s kept fresh and effective.
Games can be a huge boost to how your community performs, but it’s essential that you ensure the outcomes are aligned with the outcomes you want your community to achieve.
Have you seen or experienced any other great examples of member rankings on a community? How about any bad examples? Let us know in the comments below.