A lot has changed since the days when Second Life was the cool online game. Today, social games are integrated into top social networking sites and have created a new avenue for brands to connect with consumers. In fact, according to eMarketer, 1 out of 2 U.S. Internet users between the ages of 18-44 play social games every day, and U.S. social gaming revenues will pass $1 billion in 2011.
- 54% of men play social games daily.
- 46% of women play social games daily.
- 66% of tablet owners play social games daily.
- 53% of smartphone owners play social games daily.
- 14% of people who play social games do so at work for at least one hour each day.
- 2 out of 5 social game players prefer to receive new product information via social games (that’s lower than e-mail but much higher than traditional advertising).
One of the most important takeaways from the research is this — players like “social challenges features of the games they play.” In order to get the best results from brand integration into social games, consider how you can integrate your brand as part of a social challenge. The research offers the following statistics:
- 57% of respondents believe that product discounts are a “very compelling” incentive to complete a social challenge.
- 37% of respondents believe that product discounts are a “somewhat compelling” incentive to complete a social challenge.
- 88% of respondents believe that loyalty programs are at least “somewhat compelling” incentives to complete a social challenge.
- Challenges that can result directly in social action were also found to be compelling incentives for many social game players.
- 33% of respondents believe that challenges which result in changes to a player’s status in the community were not compelling incentives.
The important thing to understand is that people are using social games and they are open to receiving brand messages and experiences on social games as long as those brands add value to the overall gaming experience. The worst thing you can do is interrupt players with your branded messages. Instead, enhance the user experience. Of course, that means you need to spend a significant amount of time actually playing the game and learning about the community of players before you can truly integrate your brand in an effective manner. That’s a big step that is too often skipped.
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