The following is a guest post by Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on business phone systems based in San Diego, California.  She writes extensively for Resource Nation , an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions.

As a marketer one of your duties is to get your company’s brand awareness out to the right audience—and that is sometimes easier said than done.  Staying up to date on the latest tactics is a must for your niche market, and social media seems to be the golden child for some.  Although this is true, I think most of us are getting tired of reading about how Twitter will make your company thousands of dollars a week.

Depending on your company’s target audience, social media games could be a great way to keep them engaged in your brand and help with word-of-mouth marketing (which is why social media can do so well).  MTV is the latest company to roll out a Facebook game entitled, “I Woo You.”

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According to the Facebook page participants will, “date 60 different characters, including MTV CAST MEMBERS. Ask them questions, and then rate their answers. The I Woo You Meter lets you know if you’re a match. Go on a date and post your date photo on your wall.” 

Damon Burrell, VP of marketing at MTV , said, “the true strategic question is how does your brand engage with your audience in a relevant and valuable way? We feel that this is one of those ways for us to be able to do that in a fun and engaging manner.”

MTV is not the first to implement these type of games. At the beginning of summer, 7-Eleven teamed up with Farmville creator Zynga to, “allow millions of consumers the ability to redeem exclusive virtual items with Zynga games (Farmville and Mafia wars) at their local 7-Eleven store.” 

Taking the lead from this promotion, Rixty has decided to team up with Coinstar to, “give 10 free Facebook Credits in exchange for trading their coins for a cash voucher at one of 10,000 Coinstar locations, which are usually in grocery stores. That’s about $1 in value. On the back of the voucher ticket, you get a web address that you can enter on your computer. Then you claim your Facebook Credits and can proceed to use them in games and other apps on Facebook.”

What’s the Point?

So why are these heavy hitters participating in social games?  Well like Burell said above, it helps customers engage with your brand.  It is also a great way to collect information such as email addresses and other contact information—better than purchased lists and outbound marketing.

Nielsen found that , “online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks – accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. Internet time. Email dropped from 11.5 percent of time to 8.3 percent.” 

What to Look For

Before implementing a social game you need to have two main points defined—is your target audience participating in social games, and how will you measure its success.  If you can define these two points, you will be able to decide how and if a social game can bring in revenue. 

One of the main reasons many companies do not participate in social media in general is they can’t tie it to any type of ROI.  This is largely due to the fact that they don’t define any reason for participating other than other companies are doing it. 

Chances are if your major competitors are engaging in social media, you should be as well.  Before you dive in, make sure you take the time to plan out any initiatives you will be doing. (tweeting, blogs, creating games etc.) Start out small and test the waters before dumping a large amount of money into social media campaigns.  
You might not be a heavy hitter like MTV and 7-Eleven, but that doesn’t mean social media games could be a waste of time for you.  Take the time to research and plan and you could be seeing a great benefit from these games.


Originally published Sep 16, 2010 3:00:00 PM, updated March 21 2013

Topics:

Social Media