We all love to share things. It’s what social networking is all about. But one problem that Marketers and Community Managers face is how to convince those that are on their site, Facebook Page or Twitter feed to share or retweet their latest posts. As social networking has become more and more popular, and has increasingly become a way that brands are interacting with their customers (or potential customers), it has become more important to make your posts engaging enough or make the idea of sharing content so attractive that they’re encouraged to do it.  

All blogs these days are automatically fitted with share buttons. These buttons allow you to easily click your mouse and send the post to your chosen social network. These are a great way for fans of your content to send out a post that they found interesting and think that their friends would love it. Furthermore you can easily install plugins on your Internet browser to share content and all modern smartphones are equipped with ‘share to Twitter’ or ‘share to Facebook’ buttons. But if every site and phone have these buttons how else can you convince your readers to take that extra step to share your content? Well…make it a game.

Enter the Israel Defence Forces. I know that I’ve used the IDF for a few examples over the last few posts but they’ve really seem to got social media down. The IDF Spokesperson website is not geared towards Israeli citizens. It’s in English and provides more information about Israel’s military action than different units that citizens can join (though it does have that information too). It’s a website for curious Westerners and journalists who want an easy story to report without picking up the phone. It’s also a website for fans of the Israeli army. 

Needless to say the IDF, as all brands do, wants to get the best coverage possible. It wants people to share the official content of the Israeli army, the official YouTube videos and articles about Hamas terror tactics and Israeli food transfers into the Gaza Strip. To help increase the chance of their information being shared they made it into a game. IDF Ranks is a ‘game’ that launched several months ago to encourage people to share content from the IDF website. Players log in with their Facebook or Twitter accounts and every time that they share content with Google+, Facebook or Twitter then they get several points. If they search the website then they get several points. If they consistently return to the site and comment then they get several points etc etc etc. As you accrue more and more points you are eventually promoted and with that comes badges which you are allowed to display in your public IDF Ranks profile. It is a fun game for those who are already within the social community of the IDF to play. 

With the launch of the recent military strikes against Gaza it has come under scrutiny for ‘gamifying’ war. Whilst these are legitimate concerns you cannot deny the effectiveness of the strategy. The IDF has made a fun game for its viewers whilst at the same time has pushed its content out to people who may never have seen it.  That’s exactly how brands should be approaching share buttons. I’m not saying that every single site should implement a game with a leader-board as that would get old (and quick!) but it’s important for marketers to think outside the box when it comes to sharing posts….because that’s where good ideas come from!