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I’ve recently blogged about LinkedIn’s use of gamification in Wired’s Innovation Insights.

Many of us rely on LinkedIn as a key HR, sales, career development and business tool. Some of LinkedIn’s ability to engage its users is its elegant use of gamification elements – from completeness bars to competitive game elements that compare a LinkedIn user to their peers. All this makes the LinkedIn environment compelling to many people and results in their investing in making their LinkedIn profiles and the data in them.

This raises, of course, the interesting question of whether competition – gamified competition as exemplified in the LinkedIn example – discourages or encourages users. More importantly, it makes us carefully consider the use of completion oriented elements vs competition oriented game elements.

linkedin gamification

Here are some excerpts from my blog post there. You can read the whole post here.

“LinkedIn wants you to complete your profile; profile completeness is an important goal since it makes the information about you interesting and valuable for other users, driving usage and powering LinkedIn’s monetization model.

The basic information doesn’t take that long to provide, but most people are reluctant to invest the time it takes to complete their profile. How does LinkedIn get you to fill more information? Using gamification.

The “profile completeness bar” appeals to the basic human satisfaction of completion. Even once you’ve gotten to 75-90% (including uploading a carefully selected picture), LinkedIn will try to appeal to your sense of mastery and competition to get to 100%, and beyond. Is there a “beyond 100%”? In LinkedIn, there is. LinkedIn came up with a new version of profile completeness: “profile strength”… even as you reach “All-Star” level, the circle (cup) is not never entirely full, insinuating that there is always room for updates and changes.”

I then conclude the post with a “it depends” – drawing the line between competition that may be disruptive within an enterprise gamification project and competition (and completion) done right:

“When we want to implement gamification elements in the work place we have to make sure certain elements are being kept in order to encourage employees without making them feel worthless or over-challenged. It is important to ensure that the participants’ understanding that the final goal of gamification is the process going on at work (learning, improving sales, improving customer service, etc.) rather than the competition itself. Another means to smooth the competitiveness is to avoid pricey awards and concentrate on more symbolic ones, or reward with group prizes like a joint dinner, or other group activity.”




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