Generating good content that performs well on Facebook is hard enough today, but will be even harder tomorrow. Facebook’s algorithm-tweaks are continuously decreasing branded social reach-and-engagement efforts of even the best marketing teams. It’s clear to see why this is happening, and as marketers, we have to accept that. (It’s actually a Good Thing – in the end. Maybe there’s another post we could write about this too, just let us know!).

But what if I told you that there is still a little light at the end of the hard-work tunnel? And how about I showed you now, with real examples, exactly how you can overachieve in the social space (not just on Facebook) with your next branded event?

You will then be able to create a ton of high-value and engaging content giving your brand a competitive advantage at every event or trade fair that you attend.

The magic word is gamification.

Okay, but what is gamification? Basically, it means to make use of competitive game-design elements in a different, non-game context. If you play a game, you want to win it, right? If the game is also fun to play, you’ll play more often too. Combine elements like these and you are on the winning streak. As a result, it can, for example, amplify user engagement, motivate your team and support your recruiting strategy.

Learn how every business (yours included) can easily adapt this method for your business. In the following, the #protelfamily demonstrates how to make use of gamification in order to generate a reach of 44762 views, 806 likes and 102 shares within four days. Actions speak louder than words, huh? But first, let’s listen to Einstein’s words.

Albert Einstein and his definition of insanity

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Looking back at protel’s performance at last year’s ITB Berlin (2017), we recognized, although we used our social media channels moderately well, we could have done even better. We’ve learned that having a motivated team out there on the ground – who understands the power of social media – is no longer a “nice to have” – it is absolutely essential.

Our mission, which we chose to accept, was to put this motivated team together and provide them with the right tools for the job.

Grey-blue- painting of Albert Einstein an a wall.
He must be, right, right?

Due in part to the foundation of protel North America Inc. in the US in 2017, we participated last summer in HITEC Toronto, the world’s largest hospitality technology show. The plan was to send some of our most brilliant minds to that trade fair – and we briefed them beforehand about how they could help to increase social engagement. HITEC Toronto was a huge (social-) success! We created our own event-hashtag and, more importantly, posted content before, during and after the trade fair.

We gained up to 4 times more engagement on social media than the main competitors in our niche.

However, it was hard to get the stories and impressions from our team in Toronto transmitted to our social media team back at HQ in Dortmund, Germany. Although we received some really good pictures, the overall plan was missing – and these key learnings are what we based our ITB-Plan around…

Pick the right tool to set up a gamification contest

This year, we used a social media tool to create and approve social media content. Admittedly, that’s nothing special so far. But here’s where it gets really powerful. We created workspaces for different events or groups of people. A good tool should allow you to create different roles for your team members. So set up your publishers, creators, editors, approvers and commentators.

Nevertheless, it needs some clever thinking before you surprise your workmates with this new workflow. Hence, we recommend writing a short how-to guide for your folks. Therein, show them how to connect to the tool, how to add content, and most importantly, what you want them to do.

Okay, hold on for a second. Einstein, tool…what does this has to do with gamification? Stay with me and find out how we effectively used a gamification tool during ITB Berlin.

Create teams and promote your captains

Knowing the names of the event’s participants in advance is super important. Make sure that everyone gets involved, no matter if he/she is a big fish within your company or ‘simply’ a temporary intern. So everyone is equally important! After that, think of a suitable way to create different group or teams. Remember, it’s going to be a game and competition. We liked the idea of having a contest between our marketing, sales, product management and business development departments. For this reason, we created four teams and promoted one person to the captain of each team.

Tip:  Think of your people. Who is already active on social media? Who can motivate others best in order to take pictures and create pieces of content? This doesn’t have to be the person with the highest rank in your platoon or the head of the department. It’s usually quite the opposite because picking an average employee can actually increase the creativity and performance of your teams.

Not to forget, there’s one account that has access to every workspace. This is your social mastermind, the person or team (probably your marketing or social media team) that are pulling the strings in the background. They’ll review every piece of content, do the finetuning and decide individually if it’s ready to get published.

Make your folks familiar with the tool you are using

Dealing with a new tool can be tricky, especially, if a lot of people with different tech-backgrounds are involved. Make sure that everyone knows how to use the tool properly. Thus, it might be wise to create some test postings in advance. On top of that, play with the comment function of your tool (a good one should provide this). An easy-to-use comment function will, later on, give you the opportunity to give feedback to everything that has been uploaded. Ideally, this will improve the quality of the content.

The show begins – incoming content and comment function

From the social media managers’ perspective, you can not do much more at this point than believing in your people. Turned out quickly that our people took the competition between the departments seriously. Our social team received a lot of fantastic input: Interactive photos with partners and customers, photos from our stand and products, amazing impressions from behind the scenes and much more…but see for yourself 😉

Our team and partners standing in front of our booth at ITB Berlin
ITB Berlin means meeting our partners from all over the world again – can’t wait to see you next year!

Your social heroes can, just like Felix below, give some personal insights even before the trade fair has started. Remember, we’re in the social space here! Means, do not only post about your products and services. Otherwise, you’ll bore the audience or worse.

Birds-eye-view of Felix and his luggage for ITB Berlin
ITB Berlin survival pack 😉

Salvo gives our customer, the Best Western Plus Amedia Berlin Kurfürstendamm, a quick demo of our new protel Genius dashboard. It helps to sculpt win/win offers that hotel guests cannot refuse.

Salvo presenting our new protel.I/O dashboard to visitors at ITB Berlin - gamification in action
Salvo demonstrating the new look of our protel.I/O dashboard.

Being able to comment on uploaded content is a big deal and highly recommended! Specifically, since you can motivate someone when he/she has uploaded a gem, give suggestions or ask questions if something is unclear to you (see the screenshot below).

3 men standing behind a table looking inside the camera
Involve your clients, partners and friends! Best regards to Martin and his team from Top Gahn.

Measure the results and draw your gamification conclusion

The event is over, time to relax? Nooo, not at all! This is when it gets really interesting. In other words, it’s time to find out which team gets the crown and is the winner of the competition.

So think of the social media metrics. Which one is most important to you? We counted the reach, likes and shares of the team’s postings. With a total reach of 16530, Team Jeremy generated the highest reach across the three social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The uploaded content of his team also gained the most shares, 43 in total. Team Felix’s postings generated an amazing amount of 306 likes. Overall, we generated a reach of 44762, 806 likes and 102 shares within four days! Pretty sweet bearing in mind that the more your followers engage (likes, shares, comments), the better your next postings will perform. Or, in other words, Facebook’s algorithm tear you down slightly less.

As a consequence, we’ve awarded not only one but two teams as the winners of this gamification competition. Alternatively, you can award one team per metric or channel so that even more of your social heroes get a piece of the cake.

Enough already! Show me the monies!

Okay, but how effective was the contest really? Set up a nice and easy comparison between your results (collated social metrics) and those of one or more of your main competitors. What we did was to manually aggregate the data from the monitoring tools we use and drop them into a spreadsheet of choice. This simple graphic below compares our data (in red) vs one of our key competitors (in blue) over the space of the four-day event in Berlin. Jus’ sayin’.

Comparison social metrics protel and competitor
“In God we Trust, all others bring data” – William Edwards Deming

Organize a debriefing and celebrate the winning team

Sharing is caring! Despite all the leads that you’ve received and deals you have made, make sure to emphasize your social media achievements likewise. You’ve promised your people a reward for their effort, now give them what they deserve; lots of positive feedback and their well-deserved prizes.

Jeremy presenting the results of ITB Berlin 2018
Jeremy, protel’s Marketing VP, shares what happened at ITB with the whole crew in Dortmund HQ

We provided our winning teams with a bag full of “protel-love”: Snacks, heart balloons and a high-quality, protel branded power bank for their smartphones. It will power them up for their next social mission 😉

Winners gamification contest
Say cheeeese 😁!

Whatever it is, make sure it’s something really useful. Cherish the work of your colleagues. So no $2.99-give-aways!


Generating both good and enough content can be tough! There are possibly two main barriers that diminish the success of your content strategy:

  1. Although your content/social team has got a vision and the skills to roll out a well-grounded content plan, your employees are not willing/able to be a part of the story-creation process.
  2. You’ve got motivated and creative people, but you’re still searching for the right tool or method to deploy such a campaign efficiently.

Either way, do not throw in the towel! We at protel have managed this, so you can too! Everybody loves a competition. Think of the next big event or trade fair that your company will attend. Find out – and skillfully approach/coach – which staff members will be going, create different “social teams” and motivate them by giving positive feedback to their uploaded content. Later on, measure the results and organize a debriefing to celebrate your collective success.

  • How would you beat a reach of 44762, 806 likes and 102 shares within four days?
  • What are your experiences with Facebook’s algorithm change so far?
  • Have you done a gamification contest before?

Tell us by sharing your results and experiences in the comments below, we’ll glad to share our insights further.

Marketing Communications Manager at protel hotelsoftware GmbH, Germany.

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