pokemon goWith the popular new app Pokemon Go breaking records left and right, many of us are asking, “How can we capitalize on its popularity?” The game may only be a few days old, but there are already some key takeaways that marketers can learn from both it’s structure and rise to success.

  1. Augmented/Virtual Reality is the future of marketing engagement. If you had any doubts, they’ve now been answered. Smart phones are sophisticated enough to make this type of technology accessible to the general public. And, like other technological advances, once an audience becomes accustomed to a certain level of sophistication and personalization in marketing, that’s what they come to expect. Any lesser experiential engagement tactics will seem lackluster in comparison.
  2. There is power in identifying and compensating influencers. www.luresquad.com has already popped as as a tool to connect business owners with power players of Pokemon Go. The business owners can compensate players with free menu items or discounts in exchange for the player to place a lure near their business. The lure will attract Pokemon, and therefore, other players, to the physical location. It’s a great way to get new people into your business and boost sales, especially if you sell spontaneous purchase items like ice cream or snacks. This is exactly like influencer marketing: identify individuals who have a social media audience that resembles your target demographic. Compensate them to draw their followers to your business, allowing that audience to make what feels like a natural and authentic connection to your brand.
  3. There is an appropriate way to jump on the trendy bandwagon. Finding an authentic way to connect your brand to a trending topic in a way that adds value to a conversation that is already happening can be very useful in expanding the reach of your business. The key word here is authentic. The content your brand creates must bridge the gap between your business and the trend in a way that makes sense both for your brand voice as well as for the people within the audience. Is the audience for the trending topic within your target demographic? If so, find a way to join in! This post itself is a perfect example.
  4. Sometimes viral trends come in unexpected places…but they’re not really that unexpected! Viral ideas tend to have common traits—traits which Pokemon Go definitely exhibits. Per Jonah Berger’s Contagious, viral ideas have six basic characteristics:
    1. Social Currency: Pokemon Go carries social currency because it’s a game. The more Pokemon you catch, the farther you advance in the game, and along with that advancement comes bragging rights.
    2. Triggers: Things are more likely to become viral when the idea can be easily triggered. Since the game exists everywhere, each time a player goes to a new physical location throughout their day, they think about what new Pokemon could be nearby and it drives them to open the app. The more they play the game, the more they will lean about where Pokemon tend to gather and they will become reminded of the app whenever they physically enter those popular places.
    3. Emotion: This speaks for itself, but ideas are more likely to become viral when they generate an emotional response. Pokemon Go evokes an incredible amount of nostalgia in Millennials for the card game and tv show that was so popular when they were younger. Even though the app is new, the Pokemon brand itself has a sentimental pull: it’s something that users are already familiar with and once loved.
    4. Public: Can the idea be widely shared, and can user engagement with it be publicly known? The game engages players in an augmented reality world in which they can play with and against each other. While the current version of Pokemon Go engages this trait at the most basic level, soon-to-be-released updates are promising more interactive gameplay with other users.
    5. Practical Value: Pokemon Go offers simple entertainment. That in itself is valuable.
    6. Stories: Ideas become viral when they are easily interwoven with people’s personal stories and experiences—when people want to talk about them with others. Social media platforms are already blowing up with content from Pokemon Go players sharing stories of tracking and capturing Pokemon both alone and with groups of friends. The gameplay also triggers physical encounters that become stories in and of themselves.

Pokemon Go is one of those rare unicorn ideas: one that not only goes viral, but goes even further and turns into a full-blown phenomenon. Less than a week after it’s release, the app already has more daily users than Twitter, and it’s nowhere near reaching it’s full potential yet. Continue to watch this app as it evolves and improves. There will certainly be more lessons to learn in the weeks to come.