What helps build a brand? Loyal customers who keep coming back, who they let their devotion be known. But it’s hard when, especially given the nature of the Internet, to find those kinds of customers when the competition is extremely tight.

You want your customers to review your product and talk about its uses, and a way that’s becoming more common is called “gamification.”

Making “fun” profitable

Gamification is the application of game theory concepts and techniques to non-game activities,” wrote Margaret Rouse. “Game theory is a branch of mathematics that seeks to understand why an individual makes a particular decision and how the decisions made by one individual affect others.”

This is an ongoing technique that grows with used on the Internet. The more people talk about a product, the more people will hopefully find out. In a way, it’s like word-of-mouth advertising in the digital age.

As business owners must adapt to meet their customers’ ever-growing needs, the usage of games has been one way to keep its hardcore fans and/or lure customers back.

How loyalty programs can pay off

An example of this was discussed in this article by Sue Hildreth. Online retailer Step2 Co. used comments a social loyalty program called Buzzboard. The customers who wrote the most reviews for the company received $20 gift certificates in return. Not bad for being a loyal customer who wants to share his or her experience with the retailer.

With Step2, they took a similar approach that Yelp does in terms of naming its customer reviewers with how many reviews are written. Ranks begin at New Bee to a Honey Bee to a Super Bee, and the pinnacle, Queen Bee. Whether it’s a written review, a video or a photograph shared on social media, any kind of advertising helps. And Step2 rewarded its customers who helped out the most.

Putting your name out there on the Internet is one thing. Creating the value and quality is heavily in the hands of your customers. Small businesses have a lot to compete with, and gamification is a helpful way to reward the customers who have been the most vocal.