Gamification 101 (or How I Turned my Dead Facebook Group Around Using Stickers)

Apr 16, 2018

This blog post first appeared in the Coffee With Dan Facebook group

Cast your mind back, Wayne’s World style, to July of this year; Spider-Man: Homecoming had just come out and I had written a piece on it that I was REALLY proud of.


Awesome. My group was on life support and needed a kick up the arse.

How do I get these nerds to engage?

What do we like? What makes senses to us? What gives us a sense of achievem…



IMPORTANT – none of this will work if you aren’t doing all the vital things of providing great content, showing up daily, everything Dan espouses and embodies in Coffee With Dan and Espresso With Dan.

Achievements. Introduced on the XBOX 360 and quickly copied by everyone who makes games (apart from Nintendo coz they always just do their own thing with very mixed results).

Achievements rewarded gamers with Gamerscore, valueless points what displayed on their profile for everyone to see. E-willy waving at its finest.


Beat a level? Blip! Achievement Unlocked – Level 1 Complete – 10G 
1000 Headshots? Blip! Achievement Unlocked- Widowmaker – 100G
Tied a lady to the tracks and let a train run over her? Blip! Achievement Unlocked – Dastardly – 5G

Seriously, in Red Dead Redemption, a cowboy game, you could mimic the old west movie tropes to gain Gamerscore.

Turns out you an drive people to try new behaviours by rewarding them with points.

Games companies quickly cottoned on to this, and some unscrupulous types (with shitty games) made the maximum 1000 Gamerscore incredibly easy to gain and watched their piles of shit fly off the shelves and then quickly traded in.

People like to feel like they achieved something and boast about it. Who knew?

(lots of people)

So how can we use this competitive nature to our advantage to drive membership and engagement?

I introduced an achievement system in the group, used a simple wall chart and stickers with a defined set of achievements to drive engagement and get the group creating things.

Maybe getting ahead of myself here.

What is Gamification?

It’s using game mechanics, thinking and design in non-game context to drive behavior. Often competitive, whether PvP or PvE (player vs player, or player vs environment – competing against each other, or against the game itself).

Points, high score tables, narrative, challenges, rewards, encouraging useful behavior.

In can be something big like an online game (see America’s Army – a recruitment tool by the US Armed Forces – McDonald’s Monopoly, to simple leaderboards, a ‘choose your own adventure’ to guide people to content, online puzzles that require registration, Alternate Reality games, loyalty/reward cards or daily check-ins to build a hot streak.

Taking all the research that games designers have done for the last 30+ years and applying it to anything else.

In this case we wanted group engagement.

Here’s what I did to take my group from sputtering its death rattle to pretty darn great.


I designed a set of achievements that would:

1) Drive engagement with the group and team
2) Encourage new behavior
3) Get them interacting with each other
4) Help grow the group and podcast

I made sure they helped individuals and weren’t just the sneaky shit game’s reason to get bought and I was open about the fact that some of them were to help me out.

I got people to sign up, bought a wall chart, stickers, and away we went.

Overnight things took off massively.

People were clamouring to get gold stars on a chart and win a Frisbee with a Coaching for Geeks sticker on it.

A twice-weekly update – a leaderboard of who was at the top, who’d gained the most ground, and encouraging people who were further down, drove engagement back up every week.

All for some stars (and a Frisbee with a sticker on it)

It was hard work. Checking in, keeping a spreadsheet, adding stars daily when they were powering through. It took dedication and with just me running this thing, a bit much.

Next time – have my intern take care of it, move it to a self-reporting system (use a google sheet or something fancier) and have the group confirm each achievement instead of me.

Add more content creation for more achievements – make a YouTube vid or a blog post for us – 5 achievements.

How could you implement gamification?

First of all you need to know what you want to achieve. Gamification is a tool rather than a goal – it’s no good putting the time in just for the sake of it – what do you want?


Membership Growth – we ran a 30 Day Level Up Challenge (another story for another time) which grew our group, immersive stories, real world games, prizes
Engagement – what sort of engagement do you want? – leaderboards/rewards work great for a lot of this, levels, rewards, hot streaks
Onboarding – a tutorial level, or beginner mode, filling out questionnaires, registering for events/webinars/leadmagnets
Sales – a multiple choice story that leads to a product or service, loyalty/reward cards, McDonalds Monopoly

Potential Pitfalls

Noise – You can easily get people creating noise for noise’s sake ,“I need to post how many times? here’s some crap, here’s some more crap, and some more, done”

Finishing the Game – If you create a ‘beatable’ game what do they do next? The point of engagement is entrenchment – you want them to sick around, get involved, become part of the community, and ultimately buy from you.


Internal Vs External Motivation – If they’re there just for the rewards, but not for the group, the social elements, the learning, the community then they’ll just fuck off again once they’re done.  

If you want to know about the branching narrative of the 30 Day Level Up Challenge then I’m sure I can write that up too – as long as you give me a sticker.

So – what could you do to gamify your group/business/life and what would the aim of it be?

This is very much just the surface, let me know if you want to take a deeper dive.

Get in touch if you’d like to gamify your business or life!

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