June 28, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

The “Gamification” of social media: who does it leave behind?

The “Gamification” of social media: who does it leave behind?

Gamification is an interesting trend, and if you look closely you can see elements of it across a number of social platforms. From Foursquare check-ins to Empire Avenue, adding an element of competition drives people to use the social network more frequently.

But not everyone. The reason this is on my mind is that I’m one of those people who just doesn’t care about racking up points to be the Mayor of my local coffee shop or perhaps even more laughably, my workplace (Chip will always be Mayor of CustomScoop). I don’t know if it’s my age or something genetic, I’m just not competitive on that level. I don’t play games on Facebook; the entire concept of people spending actual money on imaginary farms and such just baffles me. (‘m notoriously frugal, so that probably is a big chunk of it.)

The interesting thing to me is that my disinterest in games and lack of compulsion to compete may present a problem for me online. How? Well, let’s take a look at the social scoring tool of the day, Klout. I have a less than impressive Klout score (anywhere from 45 to 40, depending on whether or not I’ve been busy working, on vacation, etc.). This used to elicit a big “eh, <shrug>” from me.

Now? I’m not so sure I should be so blasé.

From companies using Klout scores to determine who to hire to other companies using these scores to determine how to ration out customer service, and I’m officially concerned that the lack of any competitive streak in me in this regard could prove problematic. Those of us who simply don’t want to invest the time in improving our scores are apparently doomed to lackluster customer service, I suppose. Any company that scores people, proactively and without an opt-in, and then publishes those scores is counting on people wanting to improve their numbers. It’s a fairly natural human reaction. So even though Klout doesn’t fit the overt and obvious definition of a company applying gamification techniques, there are elements of competitive scoring present.

So what happens to those who refuse to come out and play?

I’ve always had a problem with the Orwellian Animal Farm “some animals are more equal than others” customer service treatment. If a customer has a problem, it should be fixed, regardless of the customer’s Klout score. Who knows, that person with a low Klout score might have a widely read blog–treat them poorly and you might be inviting a different type social media problem. If you’re hiring someone, look at their skills and qualifications, not their Klout score. Unless that person has been Tweeting/active online for a direct competitor of yours, it’s entirely possible his or her high Klout score will not be directly transferable to your business anyway. (Context is still King where influence is concerned.)

For now, I don’t plan on doing anything differently.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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