Pikachu: Social Media Expert?

Social media expert: Pikachu?!
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Capitalising on what’s hot and currently trending is – when done right, of course – a savvy step for brands on social media. Yes, this is a blog about Pokémon GO. Perhaps you’ve heard of that app? Cool. And yes, any social media expert will tell you that it pays to piggyback on what the kids are going wild for…

With the flurry of excitement surrounding Pokémon GO – the augmented reality app that has effectively popularised augmented reality – which was officially released on July 2 in the US, Australia and New Zealand, many brands have done as they often do and jumped on the Poké-bandwagon. The impact of this cute colossus has even expanded into the humanitarian realm now.

Yes, the positive effects for brands may be short-term (Nintendo stockowners would be hoping their gains aren’t similarly short-term)but there’s definite value in showing you’re au fait with pop culture and nimble enough to make relevant and reactive branded content.

To give a quick snapshot of the app’s popularity, and to why brands are dipping their toes in the Pokemon pool, it’s the top- grossing app in Australia and the biggest mobile game in the US ever. Three per cent of Americans are currently using it; Pokémon GO’s Daily Active Users have overtaken Twitter, too. At the time of writing, Pokémon GO users are currently spending more time on the app than WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, or Messenger. It even has more users than Tinder! Yes, you read that right: people are more interested in hunting adorable little monsters than hunting down a significant other… or talking to loved ones, for that matter.

In a social media context, between July 6 – 10 there was 3,813,111 Tweets around ‘Pokémon’ and an additional 1,966,275 Tweets around the hashtag #PokemonGO (per Amobee)Numerous big brands have been partial to jumping on the Pokémon GO social train, with Woolworths, KFC, Red Bull, Chobani, ME Bank, and Doughnut Time trying to catch all of our attention.

Woolworths’ Pokémon-themed Facebook post received exponentially more engagement than its usual content: 39K likes, 15K comments, and 8K shares. If we may put on our social media expert backwards cap for a moment, it’s not just about the numbers. For a massive consumer brand such as Woolworths, a critical part of jumping on such a phenomenon in a timely manner is the personality a post like that conveys, and how interacting with customers engaging on said post builds on this persona further.

On the other end of the scale, smaller brands that don’t have a high volume of social followers have still been able to utilise the app’s popularity – literally luring users into their stores. Inc. reports that business owners can buy a Pokémon GO feature called Lures for as little as $US1.19 to plant creatures in certain locations to drive foot traffic. There’s also this ride-sharing money-maker of an idea that has also sprung up in the States.

Are you using Pokémon GO purely for pleasure, or for business as well? If the latter, have you encouraged your brands to join the Poké-party?

Viktoria Balanzategui