It’s not every day that a new platform comes along with the power to bring people together en masse, especially when that platform is a glitchy, mobile Pokemon game. The subject is, of course, the phenomenon of Pokemon Go, a simple mobile app that is gathering more daily active users than Twitter. This unbelievable number of users, all acquired within one week of the game’s launch, is compelling companies and advertisers, even those who rarely dabble in digital advertising, to catch the first ride available on the Pokemon bandwagon.
As businesses are already realizing, the Pokemon craze definitely has advertising potential. There are, however, rules to follow when attempting to profit from die-hard or even casual fans of any cult game, movie or TV show. The first rule is simple and by far the most important. Be authentic! You are entering a fandom and should do so at your peril. Before you try to market to Pokemon Go players, play the game! Know exactly what users are seeing, the language they are using, and precisely what they find so fun about the game.
The negative side of attempting to be authentic in your communications, especially when dealing with a group of well-versed fans, is the risk of sounding like a poser. If your audience feels like you are trying to infiltrate their fandom in order to sell them something, they will run away from your brand faster than a Garchomp (see?). This is all to say, before you use the game as a marketing tool, play it and understand it, or hire people who do.
Once you or your marketing team understands how Pokemon Go actually functions, then it’s possible to develop an approach that works. The first step is determining if and where your businesses overlaps with the Pokemon Go audience. Is this the right venue for your marketing efforts? The CJRW Digital team lives social media, and our tools allow us to follow and quantify every trend as it ripples through the social channels. Our team can help you determine if a particular audience is worth the effort, and if they are, we can create persuasive content and target that audience directly.
Just last week, our team developed a social media campaign for Caboodles using Pokemon Go as our inspiration. Aside from being the only topic in recent memory for which team members so eagerly volunteered to do research, the effort involved listening to what both the Caboodles and Pokemon Go audiences were saying. Based on what we heard, we developed a number of concepts to appeal to both audiences. The end result looked like this.
The next step in engaging with Pokemon Go users is understanding what players actually want. The answer? More Pokemon! Though catching Pokemon is a bit of a random process, it is possible to buy “lures.” These “lures” can be bought (for about $1 per 30 minutes) and attached to “Pokestops.” As of now, these “Pokestops” are located at predetermined landmarks, but very soon, they will be available to buy for any location and offer a strong incentive for players to stay in one place.
The end result will be that any business can become a Pokemon hunting spot, at least temporarily. And, if the idea is good and well executed, your business has the potential to consistently draw a new crowd of first-time customers, at least as long as the trend continues. But rest assured, the instant success of Pokemon Go will ensure that, if and when Pokemon Go reaches the other side of its user spike, another very similar app will be ready to take its place, just as Pokemon Go was built around an earlier game called Ingress.
The takeaway is simple. Pokemon fans are scouring the Earth for digital creatures. Engaging with any fandom is like playing with fire. Getting burned means being labeled unhip. Getting it right means making a real connection with an active, worldwide fan base constantly on the move. But as with all fandoms, authenticity is the price of admission, and there are rarely second chances.
Make the most of the Pokemon Go craze while you can with the knowledge that authenticity is even more important than speed when engaging any fandom. Don’t let a hasty attempt to capitalize on a new trend sabotage all future attempts to engage with this growing community of 20+ million daily users.
Like every trend, Pokemon Go will peak and eventually pass. In the meantime, there is an excellent opportunity for businesses (and players) to make the most of the experience. Even businesses that may seem too far removed from the world of Pokemon Go to take advantage of its popularity may have undiscovered opportunities to get involved.
The key to digital marketing is joining the conversation your customers are already having. The pitfall is crashing the party and interrupting that conversation. Marketing through Pokemon Go, or the endless stream of digital trends that will inevitably follow it, requires a well-researched and mindful approach.
If you have questions about how your business fits into these trends, or if you’re ready to engage emerging digital communities with authentic, effective and measurable content, schedule a meeting with the experts on the CJRW digital team. Tell us about your goals, and we’ll tell you everything you want to know about growing your business with digital marketing (and about Pokemon Go if you’ll let us).
We should also mention that CJRW is located in the historic Fulk building. You can get three Pokeballs just for visiting!