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What and incredible time I had attending this year’s JiveWorld.  My first ever, and if I have it my way, certainly would not be the last. The conference itself was incredible on so many levels: product enhancements were numerous and exceptional, connections with clients, prospects, Jivers, and yes, even competing partners were amazing, insightful and open.  So much to do from early in the morning to late at night I found it incredible that anyone found time to leave the hotel during the week to see or do anything else.  But for me, one thing reigned supreme and demonstrated the true imagination of the Jive conference, and that was the Jive game series.  Not without it’s pitfalls, this well executed accompaniment to our daily activities invited me to do more at the conference and established some unlikely and incredible relationships along the way.  Think about how this could apply to your own company and your next event as we take a look inside:

 

To set the stage, let’s talk about some of the components to this.  If you think that the game series effort was just about loading up a few badges after an hour strategy session, then I would like to educate you on some of what I postulate went into this monumental effort.  Though keep in mind that I am not a Jive employee and have never had any additional visibility beyond an everyday Jive customer.

 

  • A kick-off gamification strategy session.  Yes, someone had to come up with the idea as to what the game series was going to be about, what it was going to focus on and how difficult or easy it might be. Take the feedback and lessons learned from a previous year and make refinements.  What did that get them?
    1. A focus on Twitter and Instagram as the two major communication tools to place value on rather than G+, Facebook, LinkedIn and countless others.
    2. A mix of serendipitous leveled and content badges.  On-boarding and adoption missions that identified attendees guided them to download the app, fill out profile data, and plan for session and their day.
    3. Ongoing missions delivering business value back to Jive and presenters: session check-ins, polls, surveys, and connections.

Take a look at this planning list and tell me how much effort just needs to go into this component.  My answer would be: “a lot”.  In fact, that assertion was validated with Ryan Rutan's post here: To Gamify, Or Not To Gamify ... For Conferences, There is No Question!

 

  • Game series communication:  It’s great to gain alignment around what you’re doing, but it doesn’t help if we don’t make everyone aware.  You would be incorrect if you think this is just making a blog post in the community, or highlighting it in the app.  Take a look at some of these internal and external communications that we observed:
    1. Event communications on the game series.
    2. Communication visuals, badges and flier materials
    3. Setting up spaces and groups in the community to highlight the badges.
    4. A regular bi-weekly blog series highlighting new contests and missions.
    5. Communication to the internal team around how they would participate in the contest and react to attendee questions and mission completion.
    6. Communication with partners on how to check-in attendees.
    7. Communication with speakers and presenters around how they could leverage badge tie-ins within their session.
    8. Proper messaging on all game assets to remind people that it is just a game and is just for this event.
    9. Special contest and scavenger hunt communications that must be facilitated in secret
    10. Established processes for secrecy of check in codes so as not to be abused (or at least reduce abuse)
    11. Event coordination with things like running and yoga clubs with active leaders and participation

And it doesn’t just happen in a single day.  This is a process, which needs to start months in advance so that everyone feels comfortable and prepared.

  • Then let’s get into the fun stuff: customizations.
    1. Think that twitter leaderboard made itself? Think again.
    2. The JiveWorld app to download for various platforms and guide our attendees in a simple and effective manner
    3. A network infrastructure that could handle the heat of the event (I think we felt the strain here right?)
    4. FAQs and responsive community members who can triage and answer attendee issues and questions on a global scale.
    5. A social desk, complete with response team to highlight event tweets
    6. Leaderboard displays for large presentation sessions with real time stats
    7. A video booth with all the necessary electronics and props (You didn’t think I packed that silly hat and bow tie did you?)
    8. Event swag and flair buttons to hand out and leverage in the content
    9. Event prizes at a level that is both cost effective, but will motive us enough to really want to win.
    10. Instagram linking in the event app for snapping pictures, tagging and uploading
    11. Twitter integration in the app to auto tag tweets
    12. Check in code integration for points and event readouts
    13. Poll and surveys for event readout and feedback
    14. Integrations with the Bunchball Nitro platform to draw it all together
    15. Even more than this.  An amazing undertaking from a technical standpoint and one that likely only leveraged portions of the previous year effort

All these items, and more added up to a sensational effort that you likely didn’t even realize was churning hot under the hood..  With all that, it’s fair to ask the question “Why?  Sure it’s fun, but it was just a game, an in the end it will all be forgotten.” Whew! No way!

There were immediate and long term, pre-event, during and post event impacts that will continue to benefit Jive, their customers, their partners and all other attendees.  Take a look:

  • Event buzz starting in twitter and in the community months before the event.
  • Reminders to users months in advance to download apps, to plan their day, to get comfortable and effective with what they will be doing.
  • Diving event attendance through that marketing buzz, attendees voicing what they are most excited about in the product and which sessions they want to see
  • Driving licensing and platform adoption for anyone in hearing distance:  testimonials and excitement coming from real people and not boilerplate emails and flyers.
  • Speaker and presenter feedback on their sessions
  • A list of event attendees to reach out to and take the discussion further.  Attendees who are displaying an interest in the very topic you’re demonstrating expertise in.  You’re the rock star.
  • Team collaboration.  It can be debated, but I think a few people getting together to win a prize and work the leaderboard is an exceptional thing
  • Making new connections:  Don’t be shy, challenge the world and win, lose or draw you’re having a lot of fun and building your network
  • Event communications, in real time, out to the rest of the world.  Key highlights, sound bites, pictures.  A literal army of communicators who don’t need to be paid a dime to demonstrate love.
  • Innovative platform thinking.  New ways to meet the same challenges, with the same set of tools as these groups build lines of communication.  This is a live product demo of the Nitro platform and Jive capabilities, but you can clearly see that it’s not just something that Jive only could have done.
  • Reflective analysis and a long tail of thinking and excitement that wraps well into the following month and even around to next year’s event: driving more.

The list goes on and on. It can be sliced in a million different ways, but the end result is always clear, this is massive, and solid return on investment.

 

The event made superstars, it made fans, it made connections, and it super charged this event. I personally connected with at least one attendee who had come a previous year with more of their company.  This year they were alone, but felt an even greater connection with the event than previously.

 

 

In another instance, I met with a fellow gamer who was racing me to the goal of the daily prize. After some initial banter and back and forth challenges he and I came to a conclusion:  He wanted the prize, I wanted the points.  We formed and alliance and two complete strangers raced around the event snapping pictures and causing chaos.  We won that prize, and true to the terms we both got what we wanted.

I went on the next day to win that prize again, through some incredibly stiff competition.  I literally raced back down the hall of the conference, threw my bag to the side and leapt over a chair onto the back of our mask clad social team to claim it.  Again I got what I wanted, the glory of the win and the superstar status, and again I let that prize go to a more worthy second place contestant.  Had I known how much love would receive for that little event I would have given away a thousand iPads if I had the means.

 

I collected every badge I could get my hands on, completed all of the missions within my power, won all of the prizes that perhaps a single person was allowed to take home, stayed at the top of every leaderboard and in turn completed my own personal missions: become a Jive community Guru.  What I didn't anticipate however were the even grander prizes I would receive:

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Now, all that being said, I will not say the game series was without something to improve.  I believe it’s the nature of this process to always improve upon what has been done.  And if it’s technically rock solid the purpose and execution must remain living and fluid.  But unless you were someone studying the process as closely as I was, you may not have seen it miss a beat.

 

So how does this apply to you, to your business, to your next event?  I’m hoping the above has conveyed an insight that Gamification isn’t all fun and games.  It’s careful planning and precision execution.  But the payoff is big.  I think a lot of us think about Gamification as the icing on the cake, but it’s becoming more apparent to me that cake without icing…isn’t a very good cake.

 

Tune in next time as I attempt to explore that concept a bit further: What does your gamification strategy need and how do you answer the most common criticisms to its use.