Customers: A New Way to Catch ‘Em All!

It’s not difficult to see the benefits of a good social media strategy for any local business these days. From the corner coffee shop’s latest locally sourced, vegan, organic, non-GMO double caramel fudge macchiato post on Instagram, to people liking the local bookstore’s store mascot iguana Jub-Jub’s Facebook page, or having the greatest tiny horse Pinterest board known to humanity, the more active businesses are on social media these days, the more exposure brands can get. Getting that exposure is oftentimes crucial to having a thriving local business. But how can businesses leverage current social media in a new way that can potentially drive new and more customers to their store? By combining it with social gaming apps.

What is a Social Gaming App?

A Social Gaming App (SGA) works similarly to Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs). These apps connect people together in a world of augmented or virtual reality by utilizing what almost everyone has easy access to – a smartphone. And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, there is no doubt that the latest and greatest SGA phenomenon to hit the market is Pokémon Go. Within 2 days, the app was downloaded onto more than five percent of all Android phones in the US, and has a higher average user time than Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat! So how can a local business take advantage of something as big as Pokémon Go to drive business and help generate leads? Let’s dive in and start to Catch ‘Em All (customers, that is)!

How does Pokémon Go work?

Pokémon Go is the latest app from Nintendo. They have partnered with a Google company called Niantic to bring the fun of catching wild Pokémon to (augmented) reality. Utilizing Google Maps API, the app encourages people to get outside and explore their environment to find pocket monsters and see parts of their neighborhood they may not otherwise. Players use their phone’s camera and Pokéballs to catch Pokémon, level up their creatures with in-game food items, and battle other players at gyms spread throughout their city. It’s a simple game containing a vast amount of depth, which has been keeping people busy capturing Pidgeys and Rattatas left and right.

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Utilizing Pokémon Go for a Business

With social channels’ noise constantly becoming denser, capturing any share of an audience has become increasingly difficult. By using current social channels to involve social games, here are a couple ways a business can increase traffic to their site and storefront.

Setting the Lure

The first way business can benefit from Pokémon Go is by using the app as a way of attracting people to their brick and mortar stores. Within the game, there are lure modules and incense that attract wild Pokémon to a player’s location. These special items place a circle of incense around the player – or nearby Pokéstop location – for 30 minutes. This trigger also happens to apply for any and all trainers who are nearby, benefitting anyone else looking to capture Pokémon.

Niantic has already started to open up the process for submitting a business or a nearby landmark to become a Pokéstop, thereby allowing more and more people to join the game – or more and more savvy businesses to get in on the craze. By leveraging current social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.), and using #pokemon, #pokemongo, #gottacatchemall, and other custom hash tags, anyone can monitor what others are doing in the SGA world, and jump on those trends as well. If you can become a Pokéstop, try to get in on those conversations and show the larger community that your business will soon be a place to gather and capture possibly rare Pokémon – but only for a limited time. By sharing when businesses will be using incense triggers could not only be a way to attract foot traffic, but may even get people talking about that business being a hub for like-minded people to gather and see what they are all about.

Capturing That Lead

Another way to utilize social apps is by taking advantage of the new and popular. If the trend with Pokémon Go is anything to take note of – and it certainly is – these types of social apps are going to be popping up all over. This can bring new and interesting ways of getting a store’s brand name out there.

  • Instead of joining a kickball league, try starting a Pokémon Go group that takes over the most gyms in the region.
  • Instead of simply networking with other industry professionals in the office or at a bar after work, invite everyone to meet at different areas around the city and go hunting for Pokémon.
  • Partner up with a volunteer outfit to clean up the community while taking breaks to find new creatures.

With reports of enterprising entrepreneurs taking out ads to drive people around, in Uber-like fashion, to capture these beasts, being on the front lines of innovative strategies could pay dividends for gaining new customers and creating brand awareness.

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Measuring Your Efforts

So how does one go about tracking the exposure that comes from these ideas above? Aside from probably having a ton of fun and meeting new and engaging people, there are three simple ways to start tracking.

  1. Observe the amount of social likes and shares that the business fan page accumulates. While there is not a direct correlation to a business getting a boost in organic rankings by having more followers on their social media, the side effect of obtaining more followers, likes, and +1’s is that those followers will help spread a business’s name and website around. This generates backlinks, which have the benefit of boosting a site’s authority and trust in the eyes of search engines, thus improving an organic ranking factor.
  2. Monitor the impact by running the store’s website through something like Ahrefs or making sure it is linked to Search Console. These programs will help show new backlinks and mentions of the business from other referring domains.
  3. Make annotations in Google Analytics whenever running social get-togethers to monitor correlations and bumps in traffic to the website. Using this data should give a business pretty hard and fast numbers as to the overall impact of the social media efforts in conjunction with a SGA like Pokémon Go, and how those efforts affect site traffic and in-store visits.

These pointers are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to utilizing a Social Gaming App like Pokémon Go for your business. With more and more people playing the game and new, unknown updates in the pipeline, businesses that get in on the ground floor of this phenomenon will only find benefits. From creating new events and attracting new customers, to tracking your efforts through social media and analytics, the only thing left to do now is Catch ‘Em All!