What Pokémon Go Can Teach You About Creating Buzz

An interactive experience can boost audience engagement. Are you thinking how to incorporate one?

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By AJ Agrawal • Sep 22, 2016

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Pokémon Go has achieved huge success in recent months. In fact, it's managed to win more than 75 million downloads and is now one of the best-selling apps online. The buzz surrounding it hasn't subsided and players all over the world are still obsessed with this relatively simple app.

Related: The 5 Most Ridiculous Pokémon Go Stories of the Week

Your business might not produce anything on the scale of Pokémon Go, but you certainly can learn from how the game created a buzz and went viral. Here are some of those things you can learn from the success of this app.

Use native functionality to stop people from leaving.

The web is becoming more app-like with every passing year. To make your app stand out, you can't rely on just a good user experience and speed. Apps need to take advantage of the unique technology that comes with mobile devices. Pokémon Go did this with GPS and the smartphone camera. That's how it created a contextual experience.

The importance of a contextual experience can't be ignored. People want to feel as if the experience is tailored to them. That's what keeps them interested because it's fulfilling their needs.

What made Pokémon Go popular was that the app changes, based on where users are in the world. No two players have exactly the same experience. The app is made for them as individuals.

Use an interactive experience to boost engagement.

You don't need to be told that the user experience is important. But stop for a second and consider how your customers are experiencing the app in question. You need an interactive experience to better boost engagement.

Related: 3 Ways to Level Up Your Marketing With Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go decided to do this with augmented reality. The game itself was the same one that was there in the early 2000s, but the company came at augmented reality from a different angle. This was a truely interactive experience that led Pokémon Go players to spend more minutes on that app than on other mobile apps like Facebook.

You don't have to use augmented reality to create an interactive experience. There are a lot of options available to you on both desktop and mobile websites. Interactive content in general has been shown to be far more successful than static content.

One company that's picked up on this is Ikea. It's implemented an interactive catalogue, where you can see exactly what a piece of furniture would look like in your home. Expect more and more brands to do this as interactive content starts to catch on.

Make something that's highly shareable.

Drill down into the buzz surrounding Pokémon Go, and you'll find that it was all about making something that is highly shareable. A lot of brands waste marketing dollars because what they're selling isn't shareable. A big PPC mistake is to discount the fact that people have to want to tell their friends about what they've just seen.

Pokémon Go players have constantly shared screenshots on social media of strange places where they've found Pokémon. One picture -- of somewhat questionable taste -- was shot at a funeral, where a Pokémon sat on top of the casket.

Apparently, the benefits of user-generated content can't be underestimated.

Rely on something that people already know.

Unless yours is a new business, you should rely on the brand people already know. Nintendo decided to use the exact same concept it had always used. From an objective point of view, little changed.

Brands can also take advantage of previously successful marketing campaigns. For example, if you already created a mascot as part of your branding, make it into an interactive character. It doesn't matter what the new campaign is about because people will be drawn to the mascot they already know.

Also remember that those in your target market like to feel comfortable. They don't want something completely new. Something they can recognize will draw them in.

Last word: Is it easy?

There's nothing easy about creating buzz and the quality of "going viral." Pokémon Go made it look simple, but the reality is, there are no guarantees. True, every piece of viral content has some of the same things in common, but even their creators can never predict that something is going to catch fire.

Related: 3 Ways to Level Up Your Marketing With Pokemon Go

The best thing to do is have the ingredients listed above in place. Sooner or later your target market will catch wind of your offerings and start shouting about it.

AJ Agrawal

Founder of Verma Media

AJ Agrawal is the founder of Verma Media, a marketing agency that focuses on emerging tech, like blockchain and AI, and on cannabis companies.

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