6 lessons for PR pros from the rising popularity of mobile games

Is everyone in your family going nuts for the games on their mobile phones? Here is how brand managers can harness the same forces that make these apps a viral phenomenon.

Mobile games aren’t a passing fad.

If your Christmas dinners and New Year’s Eve parties were anything like mine, then you stopped what you were doing, gathered your friends and family of all generations together and heard comedian Scott Rogowsky’s voice echo from someone’s phone speaker as he cracked a few jokes and dished-out 12 questions for a chance to win thousands of dollars.

It’s a new game called HQ Trivia, a mobile gaming app that is at the forefront of how people interact with digital content; by rolling up an interactive trivia game and live TV show all into one mobile app, it seems to have cracked the code. This past week alone saw a whopping 1.2 million “contestants” across the U.S. and Canada tune in to play during one of their scheduled broadcasts.

The quick rise of HQ Trivia is not the first time that mobile gaming has become a trending topic and the “hot new thing in digital” that everyone wants to get in on (Pokémon Go or Candy Crush, anyone?). The creators of Pokémon Go, Niantic, have a new mobile game that is already “changing the game” and it hasn’t even been released yet.

Obviously, these gaming platforms are doing something right.

Many organizations are looking to improve their digital and social media content, and the inspiration might be no further than right under our thumbs. Brand managers can learn a lot from mobile gaming apps.

Here are six ways they learn from the dramatic rise of mobile gaming:

1. Tap into “FOMO” with live broadcasting.

Livestreaming is nothing new. Brand managers have been using Facebook Live since 2015. However, livestreaming is becoming a huge reason why mobile gaming apps are starting to take off into the millions.

The structure of a scheduled live game allows the marketers behind these apps to build up anticipation and give people something exciting to look forward to. Think of it as the modern-day “NBC Thursday Night.” Brand managers can tap into “FOMO” culture (Fear of Missing Out), and capitalize on this emotion with live, regularly-scheduled content. If you have the goods, people will “tune in.”

2. Get a spokeperson.

HQ Trivia benefits enormously from the fact that there is a live host. When you play the game, it’s more than just answering questions – you feel like you get to know the host, Scott.

It’s important that organizations also have a human face and voice to represent their brand. Whether it’s having a regular host-like personality or tapping into your influencers to be your face and voice, people—not brands—have more resonance. While comedy isn’t for every organization, the popularity of HQ Trivia is proof that humor and a real-time personal touch are potent factors that keep people coming back for more.

3. Tap into your consumers with user-generated content.

Fans are constantly sharing their love for their favorite games on social media and in the real world—and these voices are not going unnoticed. The people behind these games often tap into conversations happening on social media and showcase user-generated content on their mobile apps, live broadcasts and social media channels. This incentivizes more people to take and share photos and videos playing with friends and family.

Your consumers can do the same, if they aren’t already. By using your platform to amplify your consumers themselves, you build affinity and trust for them to genuinely use (and share) your product or service.

Even I was recently compelled to share a fun video of me playing HQ Trivia with my cousins.

4. Incentives are key.

It’s an old school tactic, but mobile gaming apps prove that incentives—or the chance to receive an incentive, rather—still works. Your incentive needn’t be a cash prize, but something to make your fans feel special and appreciated is a must if you want them to keep coming back.

5. Spice it up.

Of course, each app has its own “recipe for success,” but they make sure to keep it fresh every time too. Many games feature different themes, bring in special guest hosts, or throw in various elements of surprise. If your content becomes too cookie cutter, bland or predictable, then there’s no reason to tune in and engage more than once.

6. Finally…have fun!

Do you think millions of people flock to these apps every day because they’re boring? No! So why do you think the same thing doesn’t apply to your brand’s content?

It’s 2018 and too many organizations still “play it safe.” Take a risk. If your content is not interesting and it’s clear that you are not having fun through your content, then your consumers will tune out.

Fun doesn’t necessarily mean complicated and expensive, either. Some of the best brand content clearly did not even come close to breaking the bank.

How are you going to make your content more interactive and fun this year, PR Daily readers?

Brandon Schuster is a Business Development & Marketing Specialist within Ketchum’s Digital Group. @brandonwrites A version of this article originally ran on the Ketchum blog.

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