What Pokemon Go Taught Me About Content Marketing

By: Chris Thompson on July 16, 2016 Categories: Content Marketing, Corporate Communications

1 out of 10 people you know is now addicted to Pokemon Go. And for the rest of us (the 9 out 10), we’re probably all still wondering what is this thing.
The game leverages your smartphone and GPS to provide an augmented virtual universe where you can roam the streets and capture Pokemon characters, combat power, and Stardust  – cause sometimes your unaugmented commute to work is just not enough to please the senses. This game is doing so well, it has surpassed all other mobile apps including Candy Crush, Tinder, Twitter and Facebook.

What does any of this have to do with content marketing? Simple… Right?

Understand your Target Market on a personal level

Pokemon has a huge following and is arguably one of the most successful product franchises of all time with various card games, video games, animations, apparel, and merchandising just to name a few. Since 1998, it’s captured the hearts of many Gen-Xers, Millennials, and has stayed relevant to Gen-Zers.

Fast forward to today and 40% of Pokemon Go users are 25 or older. This age group grew-up with Pokemon, they mostly all spend 8 hours a day on their smartphones, and for many, text-walking is now known as a new mode of transport and accidents may happen. Nintendo must have thought “Perfect – let’s make a game that incorporates it all!”

Go Viral or Go Home

The makers of the game (Nintendo and Niantic Labs) claim the only advertising they did was post a couple tweets and the app just took off from there. There’s something about gamification that ignites our innate survival instincts and drives us to compete with our friends and family. And if you want to compete, you gotta get your friends hooked too. 

In the game, you keep track of your score (which you can brag to your friends about) and in upcoming releases, the makers state you will be able to trade your Pokemon and battle with your friends’ Pokemon. Each one of these tactics has helped spread the word virally as users want to share the game.

Leverage the latest in Technology

The game leverages the latest in smartphone technology. The game is mostly played through your camera as you look for virtual objects in real life (that’s the augmented reality part). Users walk around looking for Pokemon which leverages GPS functionality much like Google Maps and activity trackers like Fitbit and NikePlus. On an aside, one article even proposed that this new game is secretly the best new exercise app.

There’s definitely something sensational about walking around looking for virtual objects on your phone. Pokemon could have simply created another console game and continued to stack its massive list, however by creating a mobile app and branching out to the modern video gamer, the makers understood the importance of leveraging the latest in tech. They used global positioning and augmented reality to create a life-like gaming experience and gave its audience the ability to use their smartphones which created a killer success.

Now Go and Seize the Day

What we can learn from this new app is to really understand your target market, leverage word of mouth viralability, and the latest in tech mediums. This is something that can be directly applied to content marketing – make sure you understand your target audience, their interests and what makes them tick. Think about content that they will want to share with others and make sure you’re using the latest technology to deliver it.

Pokemon Go is a great new summer game and it’s sure to be another cultural phenomena that will not disappear quickly. Although I’m curious to see what will happen during the rainy winters here in Vancouver or snowy days in other parts of North America as walking outside might become a bit more uncomfortable. 

And as a word of advice: make sure you don’t crash into street poles and don’t Pokemon Go and drive, especially while doing a youtube video. I’m not looking forward to seeing Pokemon Go Fails videos on youtube… 


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