What I Learned About Social Media Marketing From My Mum Playing Candy Crush

I must first declare that I’m not a Candy Crush player, as I really don’t possess the talent of moving sugary cubes around, and I simply love chocolates!

candycrush3-177x300But as my mother started to indulge herself in the game a few months ago – that is, her “end of the world” started when the game app crashed and disappeared on her home screen. She swiftly walked into the mobile operator’s outlet  just to get that fixed. And she’s now made friends with my Facebook friends so as to give and get more “lives” and “tickets”! I’m certainly interested in how social gaming is keeping people entertained and how it may lead marketers to break through in social media marketing planning.

Many would have agreed that the success of social games is largely contributed by the deep insights on human psychology – when to give the appropriate treats and tricks, and how to reward players with points, badges, and status, etc.

Humans essentially react more positively as they are motivated by rewards and encouragements. While most social media marketing campaigns abide by the “rules of incentives” (have a quick look at how many lucky draws and sweepstakes you’re invited to join everyday), social games are normally developed with levels, challenges, and quests to reward players. And players are to interact and exchange with their friends in order to proceed.

In the age of “Customer is King,” challenging your target users doesn’t always seem right. However, the joy of completing a challenge and being able to share that symbolic victory (may it be an upgrade, or unlocking a level…) can bring you the loyal customers, who, through the process of “winning,” are in fact comfortably consenting to what you are communicating or promoting.

Many researches have shown the similar psychological play in social games and casino slot machines; the minor incentives and freebies that keep players going with the hope of getting the jackpot. The trick is “when” to give out that little treat to induce prolonged engagement.

Now take a look at how you are producing content for your brand’s social media marketing: Have you planned any surprise? Anything out of the box that will arouse interests to reveal more fun facts? And the trick of giving out easy little “wins” can usually guarantee good viral effect.

The power of “influencers” plays a different role in social gaming. Instead of chasing after “influencers,” social games usually strategize their marketing with advocates – players who are active in other games. Advocates are fundamentally easier to be nurtured and are potentially more supportive.

Some marketers argue that the chase for “influencers” on social media is a waste of time and one should focus more on the advocates. I’d say influencers are still effective for launches, trials, and time-bound/short-term campaigns. But definitely advocates who love your brand are worth more care and longer term engagement. The communications framework, for that reason, should be carefully designed and executed to maximize the viral effects.

Finally, I believe the golden rule for social media marketing and social games is the same: “More fun, more engagement.”

Related reading