Is Google using gamification to increase engagement on Google+?

Jan. 23, 2012 | by Daniel.Fernandez

A new game of Google maps will be available for Google+ customers next month.

Below is a screenshot of the video called “Play Your World with Google Maps” released by Google a few days ago.

Google maps game

It is not a surprise that Google and other large companies such as Nike, McDonalds or eBay amongst others are taking the online gamer community very seriously.  Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Gamer community stats

According to Jane McGonigal, author of the book ‘Reality is broken’ the online gamer community –including console, PC and mobile phone gaming – counts for:

  • More than 4m gamers in the Middle East
  • 10m in Russia
  • 105m in India
  • 10m in Mexico
  • 13m in Central and South America
  • 10m in Vietnam
  • 15m in Australia
  • 17m in South Korea
  • 100m in Europe (31m in the UK)
  • 200m in China

Apart from the amount of people playing games, what is interesting for brands and the subject of many research studies, is the time that users spend playing, and the levels of loyalty, engagement and entertainment that games seem to have.

According to Keith Smith a recent study based on the top 15,000 U.S websites showed:

  • Users visit these sites less than 2 times each month.
  • Users spend less than 8 minutes viewing only 7 pages per site.
  • These sites receive a median Loyalty Score (% of daily active users ÷ monthly active users) of less than 6%.

The study suggests that individual sites struggle to keep the attention of their users and the results give us an idea of what is happening not only in the USA but across the net. Companies and individual websites have very low loyalty scores compared to social networks such as Facebook with an impressive 72%. It is fair to believe that loyalty lies at the core of their success.

Last week, Larry Page announced that Google Plus has 90m users, just six months after its launch:

I’m also pleased to announce that there are over 90M Google+ users — well over double what I announced just a quarter ago on our earnings call. Engagement on + is also growing tremendously. I have some amazing data to share there for the first time: +users are very engaged with our products — over 60% of them engage daily, and over 80% weekly.

As Jeff Bercovici points out in Forbes, when talking about engagement Page refers to Google ‘products’ which could include Gmail or even Google search not just Google+. Bercovici claims that although Google Plus might have the number of users Larry Page says, they have a big problem with loyalty. In other words, many people and companies have a Google Plus profile but they are not active users, and in most cases, the content is duplicated across the different social networks.

Could games be the solution for Google Plus to gain more loyal users?

It is not a secret that games are a very important part of Facebook as inside social games revealed in 2011.

Facebook games

I see the new Google Maps game as an example of gamification rather than just a simple game.

For those who are not familiar with the term gamification, Keith Smith defined it as “a way to incorporate game mechanics into your site in a way that engages users and encourages loyalty”.

Google maps as a product isn’t new, but applying gamification to it, and other Google products, might help Google achieve similar levels of loyalty to Facebook.

Can Gamification be applied to websites and blogs or is it just applicable to social networks?

The answer is yes. Whether we are talking about bloggers, small brands or large brands Gamification should be integrated as a part of the digital marketing strategy.

Gamification well applied might help to improve a site in terms of:

  • Loyalty
  • Engagement
  • Entertainment
  • Social Signals
  • Rankings
  • Revenue

If you have any good examples of Gamification you would like me to add to the post, tweet me @5tweetsaweek

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    Comment (1)

    • Feedback and openness make crowdsourcing more effective – case Google+ « On Second Thought

      [...] icrossing, Daniel Fernandez: Is Google using gamification to increase engagement on Google+? (23.1.2012) [...]Oct 19, 2012 08:16 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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