We talked about gamification before and the idea that you have been gamed even if you didn’t realize it. But I want to discuss how you are using it yourself.
I managed a virtual trade show for my company last week and spent a good part of the day managing our booth. Now I started to observe a couple things that I hadn’t seen before. The first was the fact that a lot of people would come in to the booth and leave immediately. I had not even finished the sentence ‘Hi so and so, how are you?’ and they were gone. The second thing I saw was a lot of people asking to exchange v cards (the online version of business card exchange).
Now I realize that neither of these is really groundbreaking or profound in any manner but it had me wondering why the actions people were taking were so different than what I was accustomed to.
So I started snooping around the show and discovered the prize center. Now the prize center in past shows I have participating in was comprised of gifts that sponsors would donate and people would put their names in for a chance to win. In this show, the only chance for you to have a chance is if you accumulated points. And you had to have over 500 of them!
How do you get points?
Well, you visit booths and exchange v cards of course!
Now, I tossed out the question some time ago about whether you should scan badges at trade-shows regardless of engagement with your booth. It’s kind of the same thing except the show organizer’s disabled my control. The participants are being encouraged to get ‘scanned’ for a chance at an iPad. They don’t have interest in my company or connecting with me. They are simply performing the actions to get to a prize.
Gamification when used in this manner hurts us.
You may say no, it actually worked because now I have more leads due to the fact that people were entering the booth all day. And I would have to argue that these ‘leads’ are not genuine. These people all were planning on attending the show regardless – the point system was announced only after you entered. Do I have the opportunity to introduce my company to these people, educate and nurture them? Sure but it’s not going to be easy. And telling my sales team that the show yielded 1000s of leads doesn’t really help my credibility especially when they start calling and hearing things like ‘where are you calling from? Ive never heard of your company’. Ouch!
Like anything, there is a time and a place. I like what the show organizers were thinking when they built this idea, but it didnt do anything but make their show look really engaging. Picture the stats now: 85% of registrants visit a booth, 90% download a piece of content, 90% exchange v cards. Who wouldn’t want to sign up with them?
It’s not genuine. Using gamification for engagement is what we should be focused on. I love the idea of ‘playing’ with our audience. I don’t love the idea of gaming them.