Pokémon GO is officially the most popular digital game of all time!
Even if you took a break from technology this summer, you’ve most likely heard about the phenomenon driving kids and adults to seek out digital creatures in an augmented reality at unprecedented rates:
- 21M daily active users in the US alone
- $23 billion value increase for Nintendo in weeks following the game’s release
- 645M+ posts, shares, reactions, and comments about the game on Facebook
What Pokemon GO can teach you
With endless options for digital distraction, it’s always interesting to consider what drives sudden popularity, as experienced by Pokémon GO in less than one week from its launch.
Augmented reality aside, there are at least 3 reproducable aspects of the game you can borrow to get kids and parents more engaged.
1. CREATE A UNIQUE CULTURE
Pokémon GO is an immersive world with a shared language, values & worldview (just like camp and school).
WHY IT WORKS…
- Creates a basis for connecting
- Makes participation more memorable
- Instills a sense of inclusiveness and belonging
Think about neighborhood clubs you and your friends created as kids. There were nicknames, handshakes, code words, and special meeting places. You wore certain colors or matching friendship bracelets. On a micro-level, you created culture. And you’re still doing it – at camp, school or kids’ events.
CATCH ‘EM ALL WITH…
- Shared rituals & traditions
- Unique language & ethics/etiquette
- Develop staff characters & traits
- Arrange meet-ups, functions & teams
No matter the basis for your unique culture – such as art, academics, nature, fitness, or faith – it’s part of the magic that makes memories that draw participants back.
2. INSPIRE PARTICIPATION WITH GAMIFICATION
Pokémon GO gameplay stimulates user engagement on multiple levels.
WHY IT WORKS…
- Pokémon GO game play is simple
- Play > Collect Points > Get Rewards
- Fires endorphins on 3 different levels: Mental, Physical, Social
The more senses you engage, the better. Encourage your participants to spring into action by finding ways to “gamify” elements of your program. Reward kids with points or special merchandise if they bring a friend to your program, share their pics on Facebook, or comment on your company’s social media posts. Keep your loyalty/reward systems simple, and recognize individuals.
3. Cue the Nostalgia
Pokémon GO has cross-generational appeal, engaging the entire family.
WHY IT WORKS…
- Families can enjoy the game together
- Nostalgia marketing is a real thing!
This is a great way to attract your parent audience, too:
- Consider T-shirts or other merchandise with a nostalgic feel that’s also true to your brand (Think Coca-Cola glass bottles).
- Host parent/kid activities with throwback themes in your offseason, such as vintage arts & crafts, kickball games, shaving cream fights, or a Hayley Mills movie marathon.
- Generate virtual nostalgia on your blog or Facebook page with Flashback Fridays (#FBF) or Throwback Thursdays (#TBT).
TIPS FOR PLAYING THE POP CULTURE GAME
Aligning your marketing with trending topics and popular themes in the media is a tried-and-true strategy for engagement. Keep in mind:
- Check with your staff and core customers to learn what your audience is talking about, following on social media, posting, and sharing.
- Check these popular sites that follow trends – Buzz Feed, Mashable, Upworthy, Scary Mommy, and nytNOW.
- Have fun with it! Show your sense of humor.
- Don’t directly promote pop culture– it’s about engagement and affinity, not selling
- Don’t plan campaigns too far in advance; ask what you can implement quickly
- Don’t stray too far from your brand for the latest trend. Stay true to you!
STAY IN THE KNOW
Keep your pulse on trending topics and pop culture so you can climb aboard virtual trends like Pokémon GO – not for selling, but for audience engagement.
Let us know when you find what works for you! We’d love to hear (and share!) your success stories.
Guest post by Camarin Wanamaker, ACTIVE Digital Marketing Consultant.