Wait, how do you play a game on Instagram? It's just images and captions, there's no way of doing, like, the things you need to do to play a game, right? You'd think so, but as part of a new promotion for Adult Swim cartoon "Rick and Morty", design agency Carrot has launched an interactive game, played entirely within Instagram, through which users can follow quests across 80 linked Instagram accounts to find secret collectibles in order to get access to exclusive content.
Through the game, fans can explore different planets from the show, tapping into each to get more insights and complete actions.
With an image on screen, you tap once, and you're given an option to "warp" to another linked account.
Once tapped, you're taken to the next stage, where you can explore further, linking you to additional worlds and images.
It's an innovative and creative way to utilize the Instagram platform, using still images and the interactive options available to generate engagement - but it's not the first time a brand has used an Instagram game for promotional purposes.
Earlier this year, Reebok hosted a "Hunt for the Pump" game on the platform, in which participants were taken on a "virtual run" through the streets of San Francisco. Through a series of paneled images from city landmarks, users were urged to find the Reebok Pump logo in each, clicking upon which took them to the next stage via another, linked Instagram account.
The game, along with the Rick and Morty "Rickstaverse" promotion, utilizes Instagram's photo-tagging functionality, linking via inserted tags through to other Instagram accounts. The functionality itself is reasonably straight-forward, though the scale of work - particularly in the case of Rick and Morty, with a whole new stream of animated content - is likely the most challenging aspect (one of the illustrators for the "Rickstaverse" projected noted on Reddit that they were forced to change their formatting halfway through the project due to Instagram changing up the viewing options via the desktop site, adding to the workload for the project).
Either way, it's definitely an interesting and engaging promotional option, and one which will likely resonate with a range of different audiences - in the case of "Rickstaverse", fans of the show are given the opportunity to further engage with the worlds and characters they love, and already some users are reporting high levels of engagement with the activation.
Given the rising popularity of Instagram, it makes sense for brands to be considering ways in which to utilize the platform to best effect. What's great about these promotions is that they present a new take on a platform you already know, a new way to engage with content on platforms where people are already active. Thinking outside the box a little, and having the courage to experiment, can deliver amazing results, especially if, in doing so, you're also tapping into a trend - like the growing audience engagement on Instagram. If your target audience is already active on a platform, already spending their time there, you should be looking to utilize that attention and provide functionality that aligns with those user habits - Instagram games, like these, tap into exactly that.
While not for everyone, Instagram Games do show alot of promise and opportunity, and may open some marketers' minds to new possibilities in existing platforms. Can you utilize the functionality of existing sites to alternate effect? Could you create a more immersive social experience by tapping into trending behaviors amongst our target audience?