Assuming you haven’t been locked away in a cellar for the past week or so, I’m sure you have noticed the overwhelmingly popular craze that is Pokemon Go. You’ve probably been seeing it everywhere. Groups of people wandering about the streets, parks, even your local coffee shop in a seemingly aimless stupor. Released July 6th; within days the mobile game has become a global sensation, now surpassing Facebook and Twitter in daily users and becoming the number one app for iOS and Android with over 15 million downloads.
I’m sure you may be thinking to yourself, “Okay, but how does this help me?”. Well many businesses, artists, even politicians have noted and taken full advantage of the games popularity, broad appeal, and mechanics to boost recognition, engagement, sales, all that good stuff for themselves! So lets discuss this new outlet and the possible ways it may be used to help benefit your business or brand. A Pokemon Go crash course for being the very best! Like no one ever was! (Pokemon reference…We’ll get there)
What is Pokemon?
Before getting into the nitty gritty, it might be good to understand a little bit about what Pokemon actually is. Pokemon is a wildly successful media franchise owned by The Pokemon Company; a collaboration between the companies Nintendo, GameFreak, and Creatures. It began in 1996 as a pair of video games and has since spread to practically all facets of the entertainment industry with video games, comics, toys, movies, tv series, trading cards, even music.
The franchise is centered around the idea of creatures called Pokemon (Pocket-Monsters), which humans known as Pokemon trainers will catch, collect, befriend, train, and battle with other trainers Pokemon. The franchises mascot, Pikachu, is universally recognizable.
What is Pokemon GO?
Pokemon games have always been about trainers traveling the world on an adventure to catch all discovered Pokemon and be recognized as a Pokemon Master, hence the franchise slogan “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” Pokemon GO, developed by Niantic Labs in conjuction with the Pokemon Company, takes this idea to the next level by using augmented reality, as well as GPS. Players now have to leave their couch and explore the outside world around them in order to catch em all..and they are loving it!
How Does it Work?
Glad you asked! Well by using global tracking and positioning, the game registers your movement and location thus moving your character. Based off of data such as geographic location, climate, weather, etc. the game randomly spawns Pokemon of different types in different locations, that a trainer can then use their phone to locate and capture inside a Pokeball.
Points of interest known as Pokestop’s, where trainers can obtain useful items upon visiting, and Pokemon Gyms, where trainers can battle each others Pokemon in an attempt to claim the location for their team, also dot the map and are typically located at public art installations, historical markers, historic buildings, public parks and fountains, music venues, popular shops, places of worship, and other points of cultural significance.
As I’m sure you gathered, these Pokestops and gyms are where the main focal point of marketing potential is located. Locations at or around designated Pokestops have been hit with an influx of traffic, and local businesses have quickly figured out how to capitalize on this.
How Can I Use These Pokestops?
While the promise of useful items and other trainers to socialize with is enough, you can go one step further in using Pokestops to draw a crowd. Pokemon GO is a free to play app, but also has in-game purchases in the form of items that provide special benefits, the most notable being the Lure. Upon using a lure at a Pokestop, Pokemon will be drawn to that location for the next 30 minutes. That is quite the incentive to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or live music while the Pokemon come to you, and many places are officially making this trick a part of their marketing tactics.
How Can it Be Used Over Social Media?
Even large businesses and corporations are caught up with Pokemon GO fever; providing deals, fun posts, and various other calls to action in order to appeal to this massive, heavily engaged audience. Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has even worked it into her campaign, announcing official events at various Pokestops. (Lure module included).
Social Media in general has had a hay day with Pokemon GO, with people posting various tweets and pics using the trending hashtag #PokemonGO. This opens up all sorts of potential for marketing campaigns, Instagram photo contests, various ways to get creative with it!
Who else is playing!?
Pokemon GO and Musicians
Pokemon GO provides a great opportunity for musicians to increase their audience at a live performance. Some great things to try would include the lure method. Advertise it on your social media accounts that you are in on the fun! Provide a lure for the location during your set so trainers can catch Pokemon while they are enjoying your music. Encourage them to take pictures of the Pokemon they catch during your performance, posting to social media with your unique hashtag and #PokemonGO (this will help add exposure) for a chance at some free merch! Provide a discount for trainers who show they’re Pokedex (List of captured Pokemon) at the door, or a special guitar pick, etc. The game is meant to encourage social interaction and you can expect to pick up some loyal fans within the close knit community.
The Potential Only Goes Up
After only a week the game has become a viral sensation. From kids to adults, celebrities to politicians, seems like just about everyone is on the GO train, and many business oriented minds have picked up on its potential. Since the games release, Nintendo’s stocks are blasting off (…again) with a 50% increase, companies are scrambling for partnerships, movie rights have been requested..and it’s only been a week. The game itself is still very much at a bare bones stage with more features to be added (Such as trading Pokemon between players). Niantic Labs’ director even stated in a recent interview that they would soon start implementing promoted Pokestop locations and events, where rare Pokemon can be found. As seen in the video below, the appearance of a rare Pokemon is no joke, so the guarantee of finding one at a concert or organized event holds some serious merit!
Other Tips and Tidbits
Know your teams
*After playing the game for a bit, you are prompted to choose a team. Loyalty to your team and competition with the others has become surprisingly intense and is possibly something you can take into consideration when planning a campaign.
The Pokemon Go Plus
The Pokemon Go Plus is a small device meant to be a supplemental accessory to the app. Connecting to your device via Bluetooth, this little accessory alerts you to happenings in the game, such as the appearance of a nearby Pokemon or Pokestop. Though currently unreleased, pre-orders are live and soon the PGP will be an essential piece of a trainers arsenal! Many Etsy shops and artists are already creating designs for the PGP in different styles and colors.
The game is very much in its beginning stages, and its huge success in such a small amount of time means it can only be improved and built upon. Since Pokemon’s release in 1996 there is now a roster of over 800 creatures to capture and collect, with more coming soon due to the latest installment of the game franchise being released in November. Currently you are only able to encounter the original 151 So that leaves a lot of playroom for the games developers.