Everyone is playing Pokémon Go, a game that allows players to use GPS to track down and collect digital monsters in an augmented reality (AR).
Pokémon originated in 1995 as a popular Game Boy video game published by Nintendo, that encouraged players to collect, trade and battle “Pocket Monsters” or Pokémon. Players are called Pokémon Trainers and are encouraged in an early franchise slogan to “Catch ‘em All!” Players in Pokémon Go do this while visiting local landmarks, parks, and businesses.
Since the apps recent release on July 7th in America, it has gone incredibly viral, with more than 10 million downloads, it took only 13 hours to become the top-grossing app in the US. Pokémon Go is bigger than Tinder and about to overtake Twitter with daily active users, who spend an average of 43 minutes per day in the app.
The beauty of the game is while people are out searching for virtual monsters to collect and battle against their friends, they are also sharing all of their progress on social media. Niantic, Inc and Nintendo will continue development of the game, so don’t expect this craze to go away any time soon. This creates marketing opportunities for savvy local businesses looking to capitalize on foot traffic in their area.
Here are a few suggestions for promoting your business using social media and Pokémon Go.
- Publish “Altered Reality” Photos
It is very simple to get started! First download the game from Google Play or the AppStore, and then sign in with a Pokémon Trainer Club account, or your Google account to access the game. It all begins with the creation of an Avatar, naming it after your business, and capturing your first Pokémon. In addition to the on screen explanation of how to play, the game has a great support page to answer additional questions. Make sure to check out your surrounding areas for Pokémon, and capture them on screen with the AR camera mode in the Pokémon Go app.
You will find that is easy to share fun pictures of the monsters lurking in the store, flying through the halls, or exploring your location, but be ready to do some walking! Pokémon are scattered all around us at different GPS locations, and you might have to follow the map to find all the local monsters.
Be creative with your AR pictures, and don’t forget to include your business information in your posts so other Pokémon Trainers can find you! Check out this Instagram post from the Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, who jumped on the trend pretty quickly.
- Locate the Pokéstops and Add a “Lure”
Pokémon Go has a built in feature called a Pokéstop that attracts players to specific locations. These show up as blue points of interest on the map, and when activated, drop free digital supplies to use in the AR game. The Pokéstops are most often found at important buildings, cultural centers, statues, and parks. If you are lucky enough to have one or more at your business, or even close by, make sure to mention this on all of your social media platforms.
Niantic CEO John Hanke recently commented in The New York Times the possibility of merchants eventually being able to become sponsored locations. Make sure to connect with Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest news and events! Rite tag states that the best hashtags to use for Pokémon Go are currently #Pokemon and #Nintendo, so make sure to use them on every post!
If there is a Pokéstop in proximity to your business, you can also buy “Lure Modules” to attract even more players. These are found for a very small fee in the Pokémon store app, and are accessible for 30 minutes after activating. Active Lures will draw more Pokémon to the location, and benefit anyone in the vicinity. Like this coffee shop in Phoenix:
- Tout Your Bragging Rights
Once an Avatar reaches level 5, the player is able to join one of the Poké-Teams by checking into an in-game Gym. When a player joins a team, they will have the opportunity to use the Gyms to train their Pokémon, or battle other teams for glory, bragging rights, and rewards. Gyms are represented as points of interest much like the Pokéstops, and look like towering structures in the in-game Map.
If your business has a gym on your property, you can publicize who has captured it by taking an AR picture of the point of interest, and challenge others to come and try to take control of it. Use the screenshot feature on your phone to snap pictures of the current team and player in control of the Gym, and dare others to take or help defend the location.
- Team Solidarity
There are three different teams in Pokémon Go: Team Mystic (Blue), Team Instinct (Yellow), and Team Valor (Red). These Teams have a growing culture and community building up around them. Facebook and Instagram are flooded with hashtags in support of a players chosen team, and localized groups are being created online to share pictures and stories about Pokémon Go Adventures. Make sure to join any Facebook groups based in your geographical area, and include hashtags on all your posts that represent both your business, and the game. When your account Avatar is approaching level 5, consider running an in person competition to pick which team you should join.
- Offer an Incentives, Contests, and Promotions
Consider having Pokémon promotions and contests during normally slow hours where visitors compete for their Team by completing specific tasks or challenges or offer a special item or discount for a specific team’s color on different days of the week.
Have Pokemon Trainers search for a hidden Pokémon toy on site and tag it’s picture on Facebook and Twitter with your businesses information or players can capture a specific type of Pokémon with the AR camera and bring its picture to your business for a discount or prize or bring in a can for a local food bank to win points for their “Team”.
At the end of the day you can show pictures of people coming in and announce the Team that had the most participants as the winners.
The goal is to draw as many players to your business as possible and enthusiasm for the game is what is most exciting to the players. Encourage people to wear their Team Colors and remember to post updates throughout the day to attract people to join in.
Now that you’ve learned about the game, enjoy interacting with the players and engaging them in new ways with your brand. Manning Media’s skilled marketing team can help you “catch’em all” with their innovative customer engagement plans. Call Manning Media in Frederick, 301-620-7700 or in Hagerstown, 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE .