Back in 2006 I became friends with a young woman who met her husband through online gaming. At the time, as a young, non- gamer I thought their relationship was a strange and rare phenomenon. Sure, this young woman and I had become friends but I also suspected that she was a mega nerd, like BEYOND normal nerd status. My suspicions were further heightened by the fact that she was borderline antisocial and also exhibited a couple of quirky and strange phobias. Her nerd status was confirmed the day she walked down the aisle to marry the guy she met through online gaming; the bride, groom, and all wedding attendees were asked to dress in full costume (of their choice) for the wedding. It was a fun wedding, unlike anything I had ever been to, I began to wonder if my “cool factor” had been holding me back from “nerd fun” my whole life. I mention this story for a very specific reason…not to tell you how fun my nerd friend is, but to bring to your attention that just a decade ago forging relationships online was a new, and somewhat foreign, concept. Today, forging relationships online is commonplace and has crept into our new normal; think Facebook, Tinder, Instagram…you get the idea. So how do you, as an association, use this shift to your advantage?
Gamification is one way to have fun and connect (aka forge relationships) with both current and potential members. In a nutshell, gamification is as simple as making mundane tasks fun. Why does fun matter? Without getting too science-y on you, when we participate in fun or pleasurable activities our body releases dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that increases motivation… when we do something fun, our body releases dopamine, and we want to do the “fun” thing again. It’s just how we are wired.
Gamification also taps into our competitive nature. Some people, especially those type A folks, thrive on friendly competition. Want to captivate your audience? Develop a game that keeps score based on participation and post scores publicly. You can use gamification to increase participation in events, advocacy, and discussions.
A decade ago, I thought my friend was a mega nerd…but she was actually a trend setter. I hadn’t even set up a facebook account yet, and she had already met the love of her life online (through a game). The way we connect with people shifted (rapidly). Your association does not have to be a tech trendsetter, but at the very least you should be staying current on how to best connect and engage with members.
Many associations are already using gamification to connect with members, are you?