Social media gaming to boost brands

Zak Shah, CEO and founder of social competition site, looks at how social media gaming could be a cost-effective way to engage new and existing customers.

Social media is a powerful marketing channel with its access to huge audiences and the sort of detailed demographic information earlier generations could only dream of.

But how can you rapidly scale up your social media presence in a short space of time, and guarantee a return on your investment? Introducing an element of social media gaming may be part of the answer.

Social networking sites are unlike any other channel of communication, and this can present challenges for advertising and promotional campaigns. In traditional online and offline marketing, the financial investment that a company puts in usually correlates to how successful that particular campaign will be; the more money it invests, the bigger the return.

It buys more space or airtime, more people see the ad and it sells more goods. Pay per click advertising has a similar rigour. However, social media is not as simple as that – in fact sometimes, overt sponsored interventions can be counter-productive.

Active users on social media sites will knowingly engage with brand campaigns, however only if there is some tangible benefit for them. There has to be an incentive to draw their attention to a campaign and get involved in some way; this could be a prize, recognition for an achievement or a reward. Now is the time for businesses to engage with customers on a personal level, and they can do this through a fun and interactive method of low-intensity promotional marketing.

So what can social media gaming do for a brand? Advertising a product or service on social networking sites can be extremely time consuming and costly. For example, the average cost to run a promotional trending topic on Twitter is around $50,000, whilst brand management on Facebook can be a logistical nightmare, and requires a lot of time and effort. Social media gaming can deliver results, without the financial investments required for a targeted advertising campaign.

Not just for kids

Many associate games with child’s play, but let’s consider the demographics of some of the largest social networking sites. According to Mashable*, of the 845 million active users on Facebook, the majority are 45 years and over (46 per cent), with Twitter’s 45+ population following closely behind (33 per cent). A common misconception is that online gaming has to cater for the younger audience, even though they only make up a small percentage of the general social media population.

Social media games do not have to mirror popular ‘cult games’, which can cost thousands to develop. In fact an online game could take any form, such as an interactive competition whereby players take part in large-scale contests to win prizes. What is important is that you deliver a fun and interactive game that caters for the huge variety of social networking users, young and old. By encouraging the older generations to contribute, you are instantly marketing your brand to the largest demographic of all.

Active to Interactive

It is no longer suitable to sit back and rely on static advertising to bring in customers. Companies are becoming increasingly more visible on social networking sites, using it for crisis management, customer services and promotional campaigns. Now is the opportune time to re-evaluate marketing strategies, and re-engage with dormant customers. A low-intensity, interactive social media game could become the unique selling point that sets a company apart from all of your competitors.

Make it personal, take it local

All too often, companies are unaware of the potential that local businesses have as a means of attracting customers. That is why it is important to create partnerships at a hyper-local level, making it easier for users to engage with the brand wherever they are, regardless of location.

Consider the value of social media gaming for ‘Daily Deal’ sites – for the most part, their customer base consists of a range of people across all ages and backgrounds, and they are largely inactive in terms of engaging with the Daily Deal provider. By developing a fun and interactive game for its users, these sites could revive existing, dormant customers and rapidly increase returns on investment, which are relatively low for social media gaming in comparison to targeted advertising and promotional campaigns.

Social media gaming provides companies with a cost-effective, flexible and interactive promotional solution that allows them to mould the marketing campaign to suit the customer. Social media games might not be for everyone, and some companies may feel the nature of gaming to be too tactile for the market. However, with some time and patience, it could be the defining feature that puts a business at the top of the leaderboard.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.