Like most adults over the age of 30, when I first learned about Pokémon GO, I shrugged it off as just another Candy Crush or "Harlem Shake" trend that's here today and gone tomorrow.
That was before I saw the people. So. Many. People.
Upon stepping outside, all I could see was the hordes walking around a community park, all looking down at their phones. With ages ranging from elementary school kids to fully grown adults, I quickly determined they weren't texting and they weren't on Snapchat.
So what had them hypnotized like a pack of blood-thirsty zombies?
And that's when I realized it was the fictitious creatures that only live on the screens of mobile devices. It was Pokémon GO.
Again, I brushed it off thinking to myself "this can't possibly last" - but that was before Pokémon GO surpassed Snapchat and Instagram amongst active users within a matter of days.
In the two weeks since Pokémon GO launched, while observing consumer behavior in my own community and also on social media, my mind has been racing around how any locally-owned small business (think your local coffee shop, hair salon, pizzeria, brew pub, etc.) can reap the benefits of having thousands of potential consumers walking around town (literally) and in front of their storefronts on a daily basis.
This is where the social media marketer in me quickly kicks into high gear to share these tips and tricks.
It dawned on me that the same people playing Pokémon are likely the same 13 to 35-year-old target demographic that's on Snapchat and likely sharing with their Snapchat friends where all the local Pokéstops, Gyms, Lures and Meet-Ups are located. They're probably sharing this on Facebook too.
So how does a local business reach this audience through Snapchat?
Give them a cool graphic - also known as a "geo-filter" - to share with their friends, indicating where they found Pokémon and be sure to have this filter live within a walking distance radius of your business.
If you're not familiar with how they work, paid Snapchat geo-filters are display ads that live within the Snapchat app disguised as creative art that's layered on top of a picture or video. From Snapchat.com, you can buy dedicated ad space virtually anywhere in the U.S. for a set period of time as a low-cost means of reaching targeted Snapchat users, all within a set geographic range.
As a 'Test', to see if my theory could work, I ran a Snapchat geo-filter at a Pokémon Meet-Up in Chicago at the iconic Bean this past weekend - an event attended by over 10,000 gamers.
For $5.97 (less than the cost of a Happy Meal at McDonald's) my Snapchat geo-filter was used 783 times in 4 hours and gained 214,000 impressions within a 24-hour period.
Imagine that same geo-filter having a logo to Bob's local sub shop or Susan's coffee house? Or how about for an online business that sells products to 13 to 35-year-olds? Let's assume that a gamer uses the geo-filter a few doors down from your store... you will still benefit when his/her group of friends come steamrolling just steps away.
This is how you growth hack an existing social channel to capitalize on mass consumer adoption of another product to drive eyeballs to yours.
Currently, the Pokémon GO Facebook page has well over 1M+ likes.
With advanced ad targeting, any brand or business owner can place an ad in front of Pokémon GO gamers in their city or community.
A business does this within Facebook Ads Manager by selecting the age range of users they want to reach (ex: 18 to 35), the mile radius within their zip code that they want users to view their ad- keep it within 10 miles to stay hyper local - followed by interest level targeting which can reach anyone that likes the Pokémon GO Facebook page including other relevant pages such as Pokémon's official page, events, etc.
Just yesterday, I was on Facebook when I saw Walmart run the ad below.
The key with Facebook ad targeting is to have an offer or call-to-action relevant to the audience you are trying to reach.
For example, I created a mock ad for a local ice cream shop in my city named "CREAM".
As you can see in the creative above, the sample ad has an offer of "SAVE 50%" exclusive for local gamers that see it.
You can easily measure the ROI of your ad spend on Facebook through in-store redemptions.
Another tactic is to host a Meet-Up at your place of business or pub crawl, in which your place is either the starting location or one of the stops along the way.
A Meet-Up will likely attract hundreds, if not thousands, of local gamers which is always good for business if you have exclusive gamer specials on that day (i.e. free soda with the purchase of a burger, etc.).
Using the two aforementioned tactics, leverage targeted Facebook ads to reach Pokémon GO gamers and drive them to an event landing page on Facebook where they can RSVP and share the event with their friends.
Then, on the day of your Meet-Up, run a sponsored Snapchat geo-filter so anyone that's attending your event can share branded pictures and videos from your place of business.
If you want to go one step further, promote your Pokémon GO Meet-Up to your email and CRM list.
Even professional sports franchises like the Jacksonville Jaguars are joining the frenzy and hosting Meet-Ups at NFL stadiums - get your business in front of these consumers through in-app advertising on Snapchat or Facebook and you've won.
It's hard to predict exactly how long Pokémon GO mania will sweep the country and our neighborhoods, but for now, you're sitting on a potential gold mine of consumers which are paying close attention to what's happening on the iPhone screen in front of them as well as the world around them.
To put this all into context, I made the short video below:
GO get 'em.