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By using subtle gamification mechanics, LinkedIn has grown into the largest business network in the world. In order to better understand how the network uses gamification methods to increase engagement, it is worth taking a look at LinkedIn’s goals.
What are LinkedIn’s goals?
LinkedIn is all about its users. It is only successful if it has enough active members who regularly exchange information on LinkedIn and interact with each other and with the network itself.
For this to work, they need a solid database containing many career-relevant information about it’s users. Therefore, LinkedIn has a strong interest in people actually sharing their personal career details and uploading them into their profiles.
But it’s not only that. Just a database without any interaction would sooner or later become boring. That’s why LinkedIn wants each member to create, share and comment on fresh content – just like a real social network.
LinkedIn therefore has three central goals when it comes to its users.
Users are supposed to
- fill in their profile completely
- interact actively with each other and
- regularly create, share and comment on new content
It is not surprising that the gamification mechanics that LinkedIn uses support exactly these three goals.
Gamification for Goal #1: Filling out Profiles
In order for members to remain loyal to the business network, all profiles should be filled in as completely as possible. This will improve data quality, make networking via LinkedIn more effective and ensure customer satisfaction. LinkedIn therefore has a natural interest in its users creating complete profiles.
A few years ago, however, this did not really work out. Users simply didn’t feel like filling out all the data fields, and many profiles looked like a patchwork carpet.
To increase the completion rate, LinkedIn uses a simple but effective tool: The progress bar. Users see a progress bar that fills up when they add new information to their virtual profile. After successfully entering all relevant data, members also receive a badge – they are now “superstars”.
The image below shows the progress bar (on the left) and the badge that users receive on completing their profile.
It is understandable that users don’t just want to be 20% complete – the progress bar motivates us to become a fully-fledged (i.e. fully-filled) professional.
Through this simple mechanic, LinkedIn was able to increase the rate of full profile completion by 55%.
Gamification for Goal #2: Interacting with Each Other
LinkedIn wants us not just to search and find other members, but to actively connect with them. Not only does this increase the bond between us and the network, we also interact with it more often and stay loyal longer. The encouragement of activity between users thus has an indirect effect on the success of the career network.
To boost interaction, LinkedIn uses a clever trick. Not only can we advertise our skills on our profile, we can also have them validated by others and validate the skills of others.
As a result, this has evolved into a kind of metagame.
If a member leaves a positive confirmation to another member, this member feels it is his duty to confirm the giver as well. Science calls this principle reciprocity.
In addition, short reviews can now be awarded – similar to Amazon, where customers rate products. At LinkedIn, in a sense users become products that can be evaluated and reviewed.
Because these evaluations are public, a motivational soothing effect unfolds. Of course, everyone wants to have many positive reviews, and an effective way to get them is to rate others first. The rating and confirmation spiral works great, and LinkedIn is enjoying it’s users increasing interaction with the network.
Gamification for Goal #3: Create New Content
Not only the activity between members, but also the creation of new content is very much in LinkedIns’ interest. If members are actively creating, sharing and commenting, there will be new content on a regular basis – and therefore a constant reason to open the LinkedIn app and update the feed.
To boost motivation for creating new content, the network shows detailed statistics about how often your profile was viewed. If the numbers drop, users are encouraged to become more active.
Who wants to vanish into the forgetfulness of the Internet, especially when it comes to their own career?
LinkedIn has managed to make filling CVs and networking fun and, as a result, risen to one of the most successful business networks in the world.