Pokemon Go: More than a Gaming App. It’s a Social Phenomenon
Like many marketers, I try popular mobile apps and games to stay abreast of innovations in mobile advertising. When Pokemon Go was released, I was curious to see what the excitement was about. The initial buzz and early adoption have been impressive. In fact, Apple reported that Pokemon Go had the most downloads of any app in its first week of release. Friends and family across the globe have been posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat about capturing these virtual creatures. In my own neighborhood, groups of teenagers have suddenly been circling the park peering at their phones and joking with one another. Teenagers aren’t the only ones. I have witnessed plenty of adults playing, also. Pokemon Go is getting people out of their homes and into their communities for exercise and interaction. In short, it’s become a social phenomenon and I think it’s brilliant.
When my own sons wanted to download the game, I did not hesitate to consent. As a result I learned that those teens roving the park were not just hunting Pokemon. They were also taking advantage of the four PokeStops that are located there, as well as a PokeGym. For novices, PokeStops are designated points where players can replenish their game supplies for free. Gyms are where players engage their Pokemon in virtual battles to gain experience points and earn coins to make purchases in the PokeShop.
Before long, I began receiving messages from clients wanting to know how they could capitalize on the PoGo craze. The bad news is that advertising is not currently available on the app. The developers appear to be monetizing the game solely through in app purchases. Similarly, businesses who are interested in having a PokeStop or PokeGym at their location are out of luck. According to their website, Niantic is not currently accepting requests for new locations. I anticipate that this will change once they work out some other glitches in the game, as well as some challenges they’ve been grappling with related to the volume of traffic to their servers which has been causing delays and disruptions of service.
In the interim, if you are looking for ways to leverage the popularity of this game for the purpose of business development, here are a few ideas to consider. But remember, using any trademarked images or names in advertising without permission is a violation of copyright law and will expose your business to risk. So, just as their website cautions, be sure to use caution before you proceed.
For Businesses Fortunate Enough to Be Located Near a PokeStop or PokeGym
For those of you with business locations near a PokeStop or Gym, consider one of the following techniques to drive traffic to your location during key times of the day and week. These can easily be promoted via social media, SMS text alerts, and email.
- Near a PokeStop? Have a PokeParty! Cast a lure module at a nearby PokeStop every 30 minutes during regular business hours on a given day of the week. Lure modules attract Pokemon, which in turn attract PoGo players and parents. You will have to purchase the lures, as only a limited number are available initially with your account. The coins you will use to purchase the lures are available in various quantities in the PokeShop.
- Host a Competition. Gyms are popular destinations because they give players the chance to earn points and coins, and also because they can see the cool Pokemon that other players have found. Be sure to post regular updates to your social media accounts on which team currently holds the gym and the prestige level of the gym as well.
- Offer a Course by a Professor. Gym locations are the ideal spots to offer free instruction on how to compete. There are few instructional resources available through the game. More and more videos are appearing on Youtube each day to fill the void. That said, there’s a great benefit to having an experienced player show you how to do this in person in a safe, educational environment. Offering a course taught by a “PokeProfessor” would have huge appeal for parents and others who are just starting out in the game. If you don’t have anyone on staff who can perform the role of professor, try partnering with or requesting a referral from a local gaming store.
No PokeGym? No Problem.
- Team [Insert Color] Day! There are three team colors in Pokemon Go: Blue, Red, and Yellow. Tap into team loyalty by hosting a celebration for each of the different team colors. Decorate your business with those color balloons, offer discounts to people who come dressed in their team color, etc. Print and post flyers about your event at gym locations within a 3 mile radius of your business location.
- Show your Poke Pride! Offer an incentive for trainers who have different types of Pokemon: Example: PoGo players who have a Magmar receive a [insert offer] between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.
- Promote PoGo Safety. The news is full of reports of people getting themselves into trouble playing Pokemon Go. Express concern for your clients and their children by offering safety tips and recommendations for hunting Pokemon safely.
These are just a few thoughts on how you can capitalize on this latest game craze to help drive traffic to your business, build audience in social media, increase awareness, and enhance your brand. Have more ideas? Please submit a comment below. Need help developing a promotion for your business? Feel free to give TCB Marketing a call at (215) 368-8226.