Because of their many benefits, virtual events are here to stay. But one hard truth about virtual events is that they can sometimes be less engaging than live ones. Event planners must find ways to address this issue. Gamification is perfect for this and has many more benefits as well. Add gamification elements to your next online event, and you’re likely to see your success skyrocket.
What Is Gamification for Virtual Events?
Gamification is the practice of adding game-like elements to non-game situations. It’s a strategy often used in the workplace, in marketing, and at physical events to encourage higher levels of participation in desired behaviors. The simplest kind of gamification can be found in consumer retail stores in the form of customer loyalty programs.
Event planners use gamification to encourage attendees to take part in event activities. This has a wide range of benefits for everyone involved, including sponsors, exhibitors, and other stakeholders, as well as event attendees.
Gamification for virtual events is a simple enough concept: It’s a system that rewards attendees for their participation. For instance, taking part in specific activities or completing challenges might award an achievement or badge that the attendee can display on their personal profile. Or the system can award points for those activities and then let attendees spend the points they earn on virtual swag. With either system, you can encourage participation even further by displaying a leaderboard of the top achievers.
Why Virtual Event Gamification Is Integral to Event Success
1. Encourage Event Participation
The effort you spend developing event content is wasted if nobody participates in that content. The sponsor booths, the mobile event app, the virtual photo booth or photo wall all represent a lot of work. It’s important to get as many attendees as possible interacting with that content. Gamification aims to do exactly that, by providing incentives or rewards for participating.
Virtual event gamification can also boost attendance figures for specific sessions. When you develop content for an event, it’s always with the knowledge that not all the content you provide will be equally popular. While some sessions will have full audiences, others that cover more niche topics may not draw such large crowds. Gamification can help increase the audience for those less popular sessions. People that are on the fence about attending may be enticed into it if there’s a reward for them.
2. Boost Audience Engagement
Engagement is important for all events, whether live, virtual, or hybrid events. It’s critical because it’s a sign your audience is alert, attentive, and focused on the event. When engagement is high, your audience is more receptive both to event content and your marketing messages. However, it’s especially important to focus on boosting audience engagement in the virtual environment.
Because it’s more difficult to keep your audience’s engagement level high at a virtual event for two reasons.
- Attending an event online is a more passive activity than attending an in-person event.
- Attendees typically attend these events from home or work. In either location, there are many distractions competing for their attention.
Virtual event gamification helps because it encourages active participation in event content. Attendees aren’t just sitting back and letting the event wash over them. They’re actively focused on what they need to do to earn that next reward, so they’re more absorbed in the content as a whole.
3. Promote Networking
Gamification is an effective way of getting people to participate more in general. It’s also effective at encouraging specific kinds of audience interactions. In particular, networking is an ideal target for gamification because networking and making new connections are typically important goals for event attendees. However, many attendees believe that networking is less organic and spontaneous at virtual events compared to live ones. This perception sometimes makes them reluctant to participate. Incentivizing networking via gamification can encourage people to push past their hesitance. And once they get started, they typically find that while breaking the ice via virtual event networking is different, it’s just as effective as at live events.
4. Increase Attendee Satisfaction
As a general rule, the more attendees participate in event activities, the more they enjoy the event experience. When people don’t take part, it’s generally a sign they’re not having a good time. They’re less engaged during the event, and less satisfied with the event as a whole.
Encouraging participation is therefore an important part of ensuring attendee satisfaction. Gamification won’t necessarily guarantee that every attendee scores your event a perfect 10, but it does encourage participation. More participation means:
- More fun and enjoyment
- More positive memories and associations
- A higher overall level of satisfaction
5. Increase Social Media Exposure
Social media can be an effective way of building interest and momentum in the weeks leading up to an event. But what happens to all that momentum once the event starts? Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Use gamification to encourage attendees to talk about your event on social media, and keep building on what you’ve got. It’s an easy and effective way to maintain that momentum and use it to continue promoting your event right through to the end.
6. Achieve Your Event Goals
Whatever your event goals are, gamification can be a useful tool to help you achieve them. With gamification, you can encourage event attendees to take specific actions that are in line with your event goals. It’s as simple as that.
Looking for higher event visibility? Gamify social media posting, with rewards for posting event-related content and using the event hashtag.
Want to encourage sponsor engagement? Offer rewards for visiting the sponsor booth or watching sponsored content.
Aiming to encourage booth visits at a virtual trade show? Offer a reward for every unique exhibit visit and a special bonus for visiting every booth in the virtual exhibit hall.
Hoping to boost overall event participation? If you want attendees to take part in a wide range of event activities, a virtual scavenger hunt can be an effective way to do that.
7. Earn Better ROI for You, and Everyone Else Too
Overall, virtual event gamification is a highly effective way of encouraging attendee participation. With gamification, you can entice attendees to take part in more activities and engage more fully with event content. Everyone benefits from this approach:
- Attendees enjoy the event experience more.
- Sponsors and exhibitors gain more visibility and leads.
- The metrics will prove your event success.
Consider Gamification to Improve Your Virtual Event on Every Level
Online events presents some unique challenges, most particularly in the area of audience engagement. Gamification in virtual environments is a sound event strategy that encourages audience participation, boosts event engagement, and increases audience satisfaction. Gamification, therefore, has the potential to improve event success by every metric possible. Virtual events with gamification mean better ROI for you and your sponsors.