Is your communication strategy trying to play with public perceptions? Good!

By Andrés Uribe, Expedition PR

“FINALLY got through level #125 on #CandyCrush…It didn’t even feel satisfying…I hate this game.” This was the Facebook status that my friend posted a few days ago that, in my eyes, shows the effectiveness of a well written game. And by well written I’m not referring to the graphics or visual design, although these aspects shouldn’t be completely overlooked. Rather I am referring to the game’s ability to get people to come back and want to finish playing no matter how much they might “hate this game.”

This is a strategy that is applied to many products in various industries and generally has something to do with the marketing team. OpenTable has me eating out every day at 6pm so that I can collect the maximum amount in order to aid me in my quest for the elusive ‘free lunch.’ Chase has me gladly putting the 6pm dinner on my Sapphire Preferred and accepting cash from my friends as we split the bill – in hopes that I will build up enough points to be able to travel somewhere exotic for that free lunch. And when I travel to that exotic destination using my Sapphire Rewards points to get my free lunch from the OpenTable points I have accumulated, I’ll fly American Airlines to ensure that I get the miles I need for that free ticket that will get me back home to start the process all over again. Yes, these companies’ gamification strategies have turned me into a loyal customer.

While it might now be clear how ‘gamifying’ your product can help keep customers engaged and revenue up, what are some other areas of your company that could benefit from gamification? For starters, your communication strategy could benefit from a healthy dose of gamification. Don’t believe me?…Here are two examples of organizations that have used gamification to help educate the public on who they are and why they do things the way they do.

Space Race BlastoffNASA – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, popularly known as NASA, has always been one of those organizations that have received heat over the government spending required to keep it running. “Why spend money on space travel when there are plenty of problems here on earth that could benefit from an economic stimulus?” is often the argument most people have. In order to combat this thinking NASA developed the Facebook game “Space Race Blastoff”. This game educates the public on why NASA is important by having players answer rapid fire questions that cover various topics related to NASA’s history, discoveries, and accomplishments. Through playing the game, the public is educated on why NASA is important, and why we should keep funding the organization. For NASA, this approach has been astronomically more effective than sending out a press release listing accomplishments.

Pharmaceutical Companies – Ever wonder why your medication is so expensive when it only takes a few bucks to manufacture each pill? The simple answer is overhead costs. Research and development, testing, and the years you could spend trying to get it just right so that the FDA approves your drug all play a factor. And it’s not just the pills that end up making it to market that you have to worry about, but the thousands of other medications that go through the process as well but never end up making it to market. This is a tough concept for many people to wrap their heads around. As a response to this communication crisis, major pharmaceutical manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim decided to create a Facebook game called Syrum. In this game you compete against friends to develop lifesaving drugs and bring them to market. The goal of the game is to make the public understand that it takes hard work and long hours to develop a new drug, and once the drug is created it takes more hard work and long hours to test to see if that drug is safe enough to bring to market.

As gamification becomes more popular, don’t be surprised to see it in other areas of an organizations business strategy.