If 2010 has been the year of mobile apps in the event space, 2011 will be the year of social games. The addiction to Facebook games, such as Farmville, Mafia Wars and others, is bound to spill over into trade shows and conferences. The proliferation of contests for the best blog, best technology company, best event organizer, best ad agency and best darn (insert category here) ever only has whetted the appetites of industry professionals for more competition (and recognition). Plus, now there is a game strategy that trade show organizers, conference producers, and exhibitors can use to tie the real and digital worlds together. Oh, and it's free.
Described simply as "Foursquare for the Web," the folks behind ]]>The Social Collective]]> have developed a web application called ]]>MOJO ]]>that allows players to "check-in" to Web sites, videos, podcasts and other digital "locations" to earn points, badges and other incentives. Players are encouraged to take specific actions, such as clicking on a Web page, watching a video or listening to a podcast in order to earn goodies. The game can also be extended to the trade show floor and conference rooms as players use their mobile phones to text numbers or scan QR codes "hidden" in the booth or on signage outside the conference room to earn more points. Future versions will tie in the
social Web so that players can be rewarding for tweeting a URL, "Liking" a site on Facebook, or commenting on a blog post.
MOJO drives engagement — the "Holy Grail" of live events. It incentivizes attendees to engage sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and event content before, during and after the event. For example, before the event, attendees can be rewarded for clicking on sponsor Web sites, submitting questions to speakers or setting up meetings with exhibitors. During the show, they can earn points for visiting booths, attending conference sessions or uploading pictures to the event's Flickr site. After the event, they can earn badges for downloading exhibitor content, posting comments on the show's blog or completing a post-show survey.
"During the recent Oracle OpenWorld, we synced MOJO to micro-movements within the Social Collective platform," says Clinton Bonner, MOJO's chief evangelist at The Social Collective. For example, conference attendees were rewarded with a badge for completing their personal agendas, following at least five people, scheduling private meetings and so forth. "If companies are going to invest in event [social networking] software, this is a way to ensure uptake so they get their money's worth and drive meaningful interactions," Bonner said.
MOJO and its likely successors address some of the current challenges for event stakeholders such as:
• Converting virtual attendees to live event attendees: Attendees have to play online and onsite to achieve maximum points.
• Driving engagement between attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors: Higher engagement frequency yields higher point totals.
• Rewarding attendees for engaging with show content and participants: Players are rewarded for experiencing content and engaging with humans.
• Pushing the show brand out to social media channels: Future iterations of MOJO will award points for tweeting, Liking, following, commenting and other social actions.
• Stimulating conversations and word-of-mouth marketing: Attendees will be trying to outscore colleagues and want to talk about it.
• Enhancing the attendee experience: Games are fun, unique and memorable.
• Building attendee loyalty throughout the event life cycle: Players will want to consistently experience new offerings and content throughout the year.
• Increasing the ROI of event web sites and digital content: Driving more visitors to web sites and online content helps recoup the investment in "good" content.
• Providing event organizers with the ability to "touch" prospective attendees by announcing new content, badges, and points: New content and the chance to earn more points is another good reason to make contact with customers.
• Extending the promotional reach for exhibitors at low cost: Exhibitors receive more exposure and can design their own incentives to reward visitors.
Research from the ]]>NPD ]]>Group revealed one-fifth of the U.S. population has played a social game during the past three months. That translates to 56.8 million U.S. consumers. This is not the same group of individuals playing console-based video games or "World of Warcraft" online. A significant portion of social gamers (35 percent), are new to gaming and overall, 53 percent of social gamers are women. That statistic alone should appeal to event organizers with a high female attendee population.
For most attendees, especially those in the battered meeting industry, the incentive trip to Tahiti is off the table due to budget cuts. They have to reward themselves. Social games give them a reason to engage and a reward for their loyalty. MOJO is one example. ]]>DoubleDutch]]>, a geo-location app for the events industry, is another. Several of the virtual event platforms have incorporated social games into their suite of offerings as well. As with anything good and new, more social games will follow, and quickly. The mantra for 2011 may be "gamify or die."