Take it from a professional gamer: Social media marketing is more than just fun and games.
Andy Jennings, Community Manager at PerBlue, a mobile game development company in Madison, told the Social Media Breakfast Madison audience Wednesday (January 21, 2015) that social media bind his customers together, build loyalty and open up avenues for reaching new customers.
The key, he said, for his or just about any business, is to build "socially integrated products."
Say what? What the heck is a "socially integrated product?"
Simply put, Andy said, it is making a product in which "social media is part of the experience."
Take gaming for instance. People don't just play online games, they use the games as a medium to share experiences and make new friends. Social experiences are a key element to gaming (and other businesses), and a good marketer not only recognizes that but leverages it.
Andy, whose company's products include Titan Empires, Greed for Glory and Parallel Kingdom, integrates Facebook, Twitter and forums with the games so that users can connect and participate in dialogues while playing the games and beyond. In the process, they also share their experiences through these online social platforms with others, who instantly become potential customers.
Andy told the love story of two of PerBlue's current employees who met while sharing gaming experiences through integrated social media. That's right, he said, "Two of our employees met through the game and are engaged now. People are getting married because of this stupid little mobile app. They come to play the game but sit and chat all day long."
The first type of socially integrated product, Andy said, is an internal community built within the product and tightly integrated into core service. The focus here is to sustain the current user base and get users to engage more and more.
"It should be part of the experience, seamless and make sense, easy to engage, and add value," he said. An example would be a forum integrated with a game, where users can directly interact with each other while playing.
The other type of socially integrated product - external - would include Facebook and Twitter accounts built around a product. "It's a good insight for us to see player sentiment and also for them to talk back and forth to each other," Andy said.
"Each of these (social media) platforms has a specific purpose, so always (set a goal for each platform and) keep that goal in mind."
Andy cited a few other examples of socially integrated products:
Diamond Candles, a company that places a ring inside a candle. Most rings are inexpensive but a very small number have a $5,000 ring inside. "They integrated social media and it drives their whole business." Using the hashtag #diamondcandles on Instagam and Twitter, they have created quite the online buzz. They even created a campaign in which certain candles have a piece of paper with a code embedded in candle. The customer goes online and enters code. His or her web cam turns on and records the customer's reaction while a slot machine goes around, giving the customer a chance to win a ring. The video is automatically uploaded to a website, and the customer gets a prompt to share the video on Facebook or Vine. This has created a repository of videos which focus primarily, of course, on the few excited winners of the $5,000 rings.
San Chez Bistro, a Grand Rapids, Michigan, restaurant that allows customers to Tweet a reservation, which gives the restaurant greater exposure and implied endorsements on social media.
Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, which closely monitor social media mentions and surprise guests with requests found on social media. Their motto is, "Bring social media into the real world."
Cree Lightbulbs, which has online contests asking people to post workplaces with poor lighting. The winner gets money for improved lighting.
How do you know if you are successfully "socially integrating" your product? Ask yourself these questions, Andy said:
How is your content supporting your product?
How tightly are your communities tied to your product?
Are the barriers to engage as low as possible?
Does participating in your communities add value for your customers?
Do you genuinely motivate your customers to participate?
Social media, he said, "should be seamless, with clear calls to action."
"Your social media account should not be a separate entity but rather an extension of your product."
Written by Bill Hurley, (@billhurleymedia / billhurleymedia.com / beachmaniac.com) Editor, writer, social media strategist, website developer, digital publisher. BillHurleyMail@gmail.com, Bill@smbmad.org.
Video by Geekazine:
This blog is also posted on the Social Media Breakfast Madison website. Bill is the SMBMAD Website and Newsletter Editor, blogger and a member of the Social Media Breakfast Madison Board of Directors.