Pokémon GO Teaches Us About Viral Trends

Pokemon GO logo for the iphone app video game

Have you heard of Pokémon GO? I started seeing it mentioned on Twitter this past Saturday, more on Sunday and even more today. People were getting hooked on Pokémon GO. I have a group text with four friends from college, none of us were playing Pokémon GO on Saturday. By Sunday night, we were all playing it. I was getting funny screen shots from them of where the Pokémon were showing up.

Pokemon Pinsir in the Pokemon GO video game

The broader lesson here is Pokeémon GO teaches us about viral trends and how your business can benefit.

What is Pokémon GO?

Pokémon GO is a “augmented” reality phone app game. You physically travel around the real world, catch Pokémon, train them and battle your Pokémon with others. Pokémon are these mythical creatures that, when nearby, will show up on your phone like they would in the real world. If you throw a PokéBall at these creatures just right, you will catch them.

Spearow showing up in the car Pokemon GO

Using your phone’s GPS, you find the Pokémon by walking around outside (or if someone else is driving) and these Pokémon will show up when you least expect it. Landmarks like churches, restaurants or the Park Township Holland, MI, office, are places where you will find a Pokémon gym or a PokéStop. You are forced to travel around your real world to engage in this virtual Pokémon world if you want to level up.

The Perfect Storm to Go Viral

My generation grew up with Pokémon and it has been widely popular since the late 90’s. From the video games, to trading cards, a TV show, movies, CDs etc… Pokémon is in almost every medium. When this game came out on the phone, of course you have to try it because you grew up knowing Pokémon or you know someone that likes Pokémon. I can understand why the internet is on fire about Pokémon GO because it’s a fun game that forces you to interact with the real world. Pokémon GO is unlike any phone app game I have ever seen on the mass market.

The Digital Marketing Lesson From Mythical Creatures

Pokémon Go’s big lesson: Know the news and current trends in the digital world, you can potentially use any of them to your advantage. If your digital marketing plan is flexible enough and the trend makes sense to your business, you can create content or get engagement around it while the trend is hot. In a sense, you are taking momentum from the craze and making it work for your business. Since so many people are talking about and searching for Pokémon GO, the chances of being discovered if you have done any marketing around it go up.

Google trends interest in Pokemon GO over time

Pokémon searching has spike the last few days

Get More Exposure Because of a Hot Trend

The most creative companies or organizations normally get a lot of exposure and sometimes even go viral around trends (the UGA men’s swimming Harlem Shake video was viewed over 38 million times). This creates even more opportunity for those that might not normally find you to pay attention to your message. Businesses have been using trends to their benefits for years, living in a digital world just allows those trends to be amplified and you to scale your marketing around them.

Real World Business Applications

There are so many possibilities on how to market your business around Pokémon GO, this is a great article on how it can benefit your business or organization. Here are some highlights from the article:

An Indie clothing stored turned out to be a PokéStop, they put out a creative sign encouraging people to come in and it caused people to take notice.

Sign at clothing store encouraging people to come in from playing Pokemon GO

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas found out they had PokéStops and Pokémon across their campus. Pokémon were hiding in the indoor museum and by outdoor sculptures. They took pictures and wrote a blog post about it.

Weedle shows up at the museum of art in Arkansas

If you are a local coffee shop, bar, frozen yogurt place etc… a Pokémon inspired drink or treat could get customers to come in (like Starbucks does with the Pumpkin Spice Latte every year).

A PokéStop Business Example

When I was out running yesterday, a local restaurant turned out to be a PokéStop. Someone put out a lure, which attracts Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes. It caused me to stop for a moment and I caught some Pokémon. When I started running again I saw someone playing Pokémon GO walking towards the restaurant (because of the lure?).

Pokemon GO lure

If this same restaurant were to put out lures when it is slow and advertise on Facebook (great insight from the article), post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc… when they were putting out lures, they could draw even more people.

Weedle at a restaurant in Holland, MI

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Even though I write this on every post, thanks for reading.