Social Media Marketing In The World Of Online Gaming
I am not a gamer, not even a casual one. To state I find it difficult to identify with those people who practically have controllers growing out of their hands would be almost redundant. I am not beguiled by Bejeweled nor have I felt an impulse to help Flo out with her Diner. Until a few months ago, gaming jargons that are now so popular on the Internet made little sense to me (now, they make a little sense because I looked them up in Wikipedia. Seriously, pwnd is not a word, it’s gibberish!). And for months now I have been stoically resisting various (separate) attempts by my friends to make a farmer out of me (No, I don’t want to be your neighbor, and I certainly don’t want to grow pumpkins!). But even I can’t deny that social games are the hottest trend on the web, and have gained enough impetus to change the social picture, and that marketers are practically chomping at the bits to capitalize on the massive marketing opportunity they present
Be it the wildly popular (and weird) games on Facebook or the social network-cum-location-based mobile game
Foursquare, the interweb is finally alive to the as-yet-untapped promotional possibilities that social games offer. Evidently, games make social experiences ‘funner’; once accustomed to such a model, users will hardly be open to embracing a game-less one. (I can say this on authority, as I have had a similar experience with my 5-year-old niece and her broken Game Boy.) That and the fact that the social gaming market, in spite of being in its infancy, is worth a billion help me assume that this trend of social games will only grow bigger (but if that means more Farmville invitations, God help me!), and hence, I think fleshing out a marketing model based on it is, in fact, a great idea.
Clearly, more people are on to it. Foursquare must have foreseen this trend too, because four months ago, it launched its advertising platform, Foursquare for Businesses. And possibly taking note of the blitzkrieg growth-rate that it is enjoying, marketers are (already) lining up, hoping to cash in on it. Foursquare has already landed a deal with Bravo Media, the force behind Bravo TV – famous for its housewives and Padma Lakshmi. There are other early adopters, local businesses mostly, that are teaming up with Foursquare to promote their brand and fares. For example, when Foursquare player ‘checks-in’ at a local café that’s collaborating with Foursquare, he may end up landing some great discount deals, that are not available to the regular patrons.
Even outside of the Foursquare network, in the more open arena of social networking, social games are finding equally interested takers. They are working at producing promotional collaterals that are more interactive and having them integrated into the games themselves.
A recent campaign for Nestle, ran by AdNectar, resulted in almost 1 million virtual cookies being shared on Facebook through various gaming applications. The resulting plug in the news feed didn’t hurt the campaign either. In another move, social gaming ad company, gWallet introduced ad videos to games like FooPets and Mob Science and enticed users to watch the ads by promising points and virtual goods. Appssavvy, a social media ad company, devised an ad for the DVD release of Public Enemies that had the movie sponsor ‘jobs’ in Mafia Wars, and also allowed users to collect ‘loot’ from the movie characters. It was such a big hit that some 25 million people ‘used’ the plugs 55 million times, and according to Appssavvy, received over 1 billion viral impressions as well. Ingenious!
So far, I have stated two almost obvious things – that the social gaming business is thriving and that Internet marketing based on social games is a very workable model. (But if you weren’t already aware of it, I’d like to take the credit of enlightening you.)However, I bet you don’t know why Internet marketing based on social games can be really big. Not to worry, I will tell you why. It’s the data, the enormous amount of data, that the gaming companies can provide, that will help marketers build collaterals appropriately.
I hope this example will better illustrate my point, a report released by Social Media World Forum sometime last year found that around 80% of the women who play social media games clicked on ads or signed up for promotional features in return for points and virtual currencies. That is a behavioral analysis of your potential demographic right there! Now you know how to grab the attention of almost half the social gaming population.
Since, even the big players (no pun intended) are still trying the social gaming space for size, I can’t comment on how cost effective a model it will turn out for a small business. However, it won’t hurt to give it a shot, if you can come up with something that is interesting & catches the attention of the readers, then, I don’t see why your gaming model should not be a hit. Put on your thinking caps now! It will certainly help you be prepared for the future, when social gaming promotional models will be not just be optional but necessary.