I know, I know. This is the 10,000th article you’ve seen about Pokemon Go. By now you’re either enamored with it or disgusted by it. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. But whether you think Pokemon Go is the greatest thing on earth or that it’s the latest fuel for the rocket car that has us all speeding towards oblivion there are some important lessons that can be learned. The success of Pokemon Go highlights what it takes to make a brand ‘go viral’. Social Engagement, Emotional Connection and Accessibility are the traits most common among the most successful viral campaigns. These traits can be applied to any digital venture, no matter its size or scope.
Pokemon Go may be an extreme example of viral success, but the attributes that made it a part of the zeitgeist can be applied to any modern digital endeavor.
Social Engagement – your digital property needs to carry some social currency. Is it something that people are not only willing to share but are eager to share? The goal is always to get the masses to become your spokespeople, trumpeting your greatness from their own pages. To elicited that passion then, the act of participating itself needs to carry weight and make people feel like they are a part of, if not leading, the conversation. Social media users see headlines and want to make some of their own.
Emotional Connection – Pokemon has been in the public forum for nearly 20 years. It’s grossed an estimated $40 billion in total sales and has spawned 5 movies, 947 tv episodes, 20 games, a theme park and more. So it’s easy to say that Pokemon has established an emotional connection with fans worldwide. But you don’t have to be the most popular franchise in the history of civilization to create an emotional connection. The Ice Bucket challenge didn’t mean anything until the summer of 2014. Dove, the WWF, GoPro, Purina and more have all created campaigns that caught fire because of a true emotional connection they were able to make with their audience. If you want to stand out in the Newsfeed, then you need a hook. Tugging at heartstrings, playing to our aspirations and trading on nostalgia is a great way to get noticed and shared.
Make sure your digital endeavor is accessible, sharable, and emotionally relatable.
Accessibility – How easily can people access your product or message? Thanks to the supercomputers and HD monitors we now carry in our pockets, the possibilities are as limitless as our own creativity. Virtual and Augmented Reality never took off before because of the equipment required and general lack of quality (Virtual Boy, I’m looking in your direction). For the VR of the past you needed an entirely new device with screen, audio and sensory equipment. Now all you need is glorified strap to hold your phone in front of your face. Because of the availability of technology, the worlds of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are going to be much more commonplace—with Pokemon Go being the first great AR success. A good example of accessibility taking public awareness to a new level is Uber and Lyft. They created a platform maximizing the location and communication abilities of our smart phones and implemented a UX/UI experience that leaves little room for error. Uber and Lyft basically took the problem of ‘I want someone to pick me up right where I am and take me to a destination’ and solved it with a UX/UI experience requiring users to hit just three buttons. There were plenty of ways to ‘call a cab’ in the past, but Uber and Lyft streamlined it. They made it so accessible that it changed the automotive marketplace and the way we think about transportation. Use the amazing new technology at hand to implement your product or message directly into people’s lives.
Pokemon Go may be an extreme example of viral success, but the attributes that made it and other ventures, such as the ALS Challenge and Uber, a part of the zeitgeist can be applied to any modern digital endeavor. Make sure your digital endeavor is accessible, sharable, and emotionally relatable. And having a bunch of fire breathing teddy bears doesn’t hurt either. Charizard Go!
– Michael Dennis, Digital Strategist & Content Creator