Jun 6, 2012

Outdoor Industry Puts Game Mechanics to Work in Social Media Campaigns

Gamification can be a compelling way to build brand loyalty, but many outdoor brands can’t afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to hire a third-party vendor to implement a full-featured game app. So they’re finding less expensive ways to put basic game concepts to work to further customer and employee engagement.

Many examples of this are evident on Facebook, where more and more brands are launching contests that entice people to contribute content, vote or otherwise engage for the chance to gain status in an online community, win a prize or even get an opportunity to help design product. While these promotions may not represent state-of-the-art gamification, they do conform to Badgeville’s definition of gamification as techniques that seek “to drive behavior through competitive experiences, where users compete to be a number one fan, or employees compete to be the most productive member of your team.”

Last fall, Austin Canoe & Kayak (ACK) launched its “Why I Deserve to Win a Kayak” video contest. Participants had to produce a three-minute video to convince ACK’s Facebook fans why they deserved to win a kayak by Native Watercraft or Liquid Logic.

Participants were encouraged to keep their videos humorous and entertaining. Only those who “Liked” ACK’s Facebook page were eligible to vote on the best video. The campaign drew 10 video submissions and helped ACK grow its fan base 30 percent, said Roland Jimenez, director of marketing for ACK.

ACK looked at outsourcing the contest but ended up developing a custom app in-house that allowed it to host the contest. Jimenez estimated the project consumed about 80 man-hours, or a fraction of what a third-party gamification vendor might charge.

Game-based contests are also a great vehicle for partnering with other brands to get people outdoors.

In its “Coolest Camper Ever Adventure Contest,” SylvanSport launched an essay contest asking entrants to describe in 250 words what they would do if they won use of a Go adventure trailer for three months and a package of gear from 10 outdoor brands. The essays had to explain how the contestant would promote his adventure and those brands, which included Black Diamond, Grand Trunk, Jackson Kayak, Keen, Kelty, Orbea, Spot, Wenger and Yakima. As of the submission deadline, 16,000 unique visitors had viewed the company’s contest page, including a couple thousand who submitted essays, said Kyle Mundt, director of marketing for SylvanSport. He estimated the campaign resulted in about 1 million impressions. The three finalists selected Oct. 1 will have a year to complete and promote their adventures and become eligible to win a Go trailer and another gear cache valued at $15,000.

Another example is Native Eyewear’s “Locals Only Project,” which was designed to get entire communities to compete for status. After touring 18 mountain towns this spring, Native selected Whitefish, Mont.; Salida, Colo.; Northeast Kingdom, Vt.; Telluride, Colo.; and Asheville, N.C. to compete for status as one of the country’s best mountain sports towns. The challenge, now in its third year, elicits a torrent of social media response from each community on Native’s Facebook page. Based on that feedback, Native selected Whitefish as its 2012 winner and will now work with the community’s writers, photographers and athletes to document the town’s mountain sports history, which will be weaved into the company’s marketing.

Contests are not just for motivating consumers. They can also influence employee behavior. In Florida, Sales Representative Bill Kendall has developed a series of “Cartoon Clinics” for the brands he represents, using the online animation tool Xtranormal. Each three-minute cartoon focuses on important brand or product attributes that sales associates can use to close a sale. During the fall and winter, Kendall sent his dealers a new “Cartoon Clinic” every other Friday and offered swag, iTunes gift cards or other small prizes to the first three to five sales associates that listed three specific points from the clinic in an email. Kendall said he usually has winners by the following day. The clinics have caught on with dealers because the content is focused on selling, requires only three minutes of an employee’s time and does not rely on rewarding employees with expensive pro deals.

Want to learn more about how to incorporate gamification into your business plan? Join us in October for OIA Rendezvous, the premier education conference for outdoor executives, where gamification expert Gabe Zicherman will deliver a keynote presentation.