5 ways to use achievements for viral marketing

Achievements, like badges and leaderboards, are one of the cornerstones of gamification, ways to increase user engagement and loyalty. The are also known as goals or quests. The achievement can be a reward in and of itself, can be used to give recognition to players, or can be combined with real or virtual prizes.

Achievements are great for many things — engaging users, getting them to try new things, and just shaking things up — but achievements are especially good at aiding viral marketing campaigns. Looking for a new way to promote your grid? Here are five easy ways simply using achievements.

Some foursquare achievement badges.

1. Inviting Friends

This one is a classic. Encourage users to invite their friends by awarding them an achievement for inviting one, then five, then ten, or whatever numbers you want to use. Make sure there’s an easy way to know who invited who, however. Users will get upset if they’re not getting credit for friends they invited.

2. Web Badges

Create a little badge for web pages that links back to your grid website, or simply promotes your grid, and then give people an achievement for adding the badge to their website or blog. You can award the achievement simply based on getting the code for it, or you can have people submit their website and then check the website to see if it has the badge on it.

Using web badges are a nice way to get some free ad space, and when users put them on their personal sites, you can usually get a wider range of people seeing it.

3. Clothing

Give people virtual clothing, like a t-shirt or a hat, branded with the grid’s name or logo, and encourage them to give it to friends on other grids. The trick here is attaching a script to the clothing so that it reports which user handed it out and how often it’s worn on a different grid. This is a nice way to not only get your users more engaged in your grid, but also help spread the name of your grid elsewhere on the hypergrid.

There is a catch, however. If ever you use this tracking script with bad intent, such as violating the privacy of the other users or spamming them, it can severely hurt the reputation of your grid. And don’t think you can get away with it, people will always find out. Not only that, but bad press will circulate quickly. Everyone loves a scandal.

4. Events

For people hosting events, award achievements based on how many users from different grids attend their event. It also couldn’t hurt to track how many new users come to an event, that way users also get credit for people who made a new account to attend this event.

Obviously, if a grid isn’t hypergrid enabled then tracking users from different grids isn’t going to work, so you could award achievements only based on the number of brand-new people in attendance.

5. Social Networking

This is a big one. Award achievements for talking about the grid on a social networking site, like Twitter or Facebook.

You could also encourage people to visit new destinations and get involved and activities and to post about your grid by adding a check-in spot where it would post something on whatever social networking site they use about what they’re doing. Then you can award achievements for checking in a certain amount of times in different places.

Whatever system you set up, remember to have a built-in tracking mechanism so you can see how well it’s working, compare different approaches, and tweak things to improve performance. Also remember to keep things fresh — users can quickly get bored with the same-old, same-old.

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