• Kalle Noble

Social Media and Gamification

A mock-study proposal on social media and gamification.

Research Question

Gamification has begun to be subtly introduced within mobile applications within the past years and has been introduced into some social media platforms, but how would this technique effect user engagement if scoring and achievements were fully implemented within social media like Instagram?


The hypothesis for this study is that implementing gamification features into Instagram such as overall points and achievements will drive up more user engagement with the platform versus engagement with the application without such features.

Independent Variable: Gamification Implementation

Dependent Variable: User Engagement

Proposed Effect: Increase

Research Background

Gamification has long been used for incentivizing people for education purposes, employee workplaces, and for marketing practices. It is the practice of incentivizing people to engage more with a subject using elements typically found in games like scoring, points, and competition. Techniques similar to this that are found in marketing would be point systems with credit cards or vouchers for free items after spending a certain amount of money at an establishment. The study “Enhancing user engagement: The role of gamification in mobile apps” goes over key findings of twenty-four different research studies that found that implementing gamification features would typically drive up engagement amongst groups of individuals. Out of these twenty-four studies, only a single study found a negative correlation between gamification and engagement. In the twenty-three other cases it was found that increased engagement was the most common factor associated with gamification. Points systems and achievements specifically work as extrinsic motivation. This is typically due to increased perceived enjoyment when completing tasks and creates reward satisfaction as well as hedonic value with users according to Szendrői et al. (2020). This is important to marketing because higher usage of social media applications will allow for more advertising to be seen over time.


To conduct this study an A/B test would be used. First, the normal engagement level of users on Instagram would be recorded. After a month of recording, the engagement level of the same Instagram users will be measured once again with gamification elements implemented. During the initial control period users will experience Instagram how it currently exists. During the second period users will be presented with a profile score that displays how much individual users have engaged with instagram. This user score would only be viewable towards users that are following each other and part of the experiment themselves. Additionally achievements would be implemented that set goals for the users in the experiment to use. The application engagement would be measured by how often users interact with each other on the application and once the experiment has concluded the usage of instagram users would be compared over both periods of time to see what percentage of users had increased their engagement level with the application.

Expected Results

The expected results would be that 95.8% of users would see an increased level of usage for the application while 4.2% would show same or decreased level of engagement with the application as shown in Figure 1.


These results would mean that implementing more practices of gamification into social media would bump up engagement with the mobile applications. For the broader scope of marketing these findings could be shared with any social media application in order the drive up user engagement and advertisement views. Alternatively the broad level effect of gamification could work on much less people or possibly turn certain people off from the application. In the scenario where this results in fewer people sharing the same effect of more engagement it may still be worth implementing for those that are affected by the gamification elements. In the scenario where it turns people off from the application the theory would need to be scrapped. The limitations in this study would be accounting for higher engagement over time of the application that was influenced by an outside factor. Further research could be done on intrinsic motivation like teaching photography lessons within the application to better engage users with social media.


Bitrián, P., Buil, I., & Catalán, S. (2021). Enhancing user engagement: The role of gamification in mobile apps. Journal of Business Research, 132, 170–185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.04.028

Hsu, C.-L., & Chen, M.-C. (2018). How gamification marketing activities motivate desirable consumer behaviors: Focusing on the role of brand love. Computers in Human Behavior, 88, 121–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.06.037

Lucassen, G., & Jansen, S. (2014). Gamification in Consumer Marketing - Future or Fallacy? Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 148, 194–202. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.07.034

Nour, M. M., Rouf, A. S., & Allman-Farinelli, M. (2018). Exploring young adult perspectives on the use of gamification and social media in a smartphone platform for improving vegetable intake. Appetite, 120, 547–556. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.10.016

Szendrői, L., Dhir, K. S., & Czakó, K. (2020). GAMIFICATION IN FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS: A MAPPING STUDY. Business: Theory and Practice, 21(2), 598–612. https://doi.org/10.3846/btp.2020.11864