How Brands Can Learn from Mobile Gaming

If your Christmas dinners and New Years Eve parties were anything like mine, then you probably stopped what you were doing, gathered your friends and family of all generations together, and heard comedian Scott Rogowsky’s voice echo off of everyone’s phone speaker as he cracked a few jokes and dished-out 12 questions for a chance to win thousands of dollars.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about… it’s called HQ Trivia, the mobile gaming app that is ushering in a new era of how we interact with digital content by rolling up an interactive trivia game and live TV show all into one mobile app. It seems as if everyone is hooked. This past week alone saw a whopping 1.2 million “contestants” across the U.S. and Canada tune in to play during one of their scheduled broadcasts.

The quick rise of HQ Trivia is not the first time that mobile gaming has become a trending topic and, of course, the “hot new thing in digital” that everyone wants to get in on (Pokémon Go or Candy Crush, anyone). Niantic’s (the creators of Pokémon Go) next mobile game is already “changing the game” and it hasn’t even been released yet. Obviously, these gaming platforms are doing something right beyond just the basics.

As we kick off 2018, many brands are looking to improve their digital and social content. However, inspiration might be no further than right under our thumbs. Brands, themselves, have a lot to learn from mobile gaming apps. Here are six ways they can seek inspiration:

1. Tap into “FOMO”:
Live is nothing new. Brands have been using Facebook Live since 2015. However, live streaming is becoming a huge reason why mobile gaming apps are starting to take off into the millions. The utilization of a scheduled live game allows the folks behind these apps to build up anticipation and give people something exciting to look forward to. Think of it as the modern-day “NBC Thursday Night,” but more frequent. Brands can tap into “FOMO” culture, and capitalize on this emotion, with live or regularly-scheduled content, alike. If your content is as exciting as you are excited about it, then your consumers will follow along and “tune in.”

2. People like people, not logos:
There’s always a differentiator as to why certain apps become overnight sensations. For HQ Trivia, specifically, it’s the fact that there is a live host. When you play the game, it’s more than just answering questions – you feel like you get to know the host, Scott. It’s important that brands, too, have that face and voice to represent their brand, just like Scott does for his platform. Whether it’s having a regular host-like personality or tapping into your influencers to be your face and voice, people, not brands, resonate more with other interesting people. And while comedy isn’t for every brand, the popularity of HQ Trivia is proof that comedy and a real-time personal touch are necessary factors that keep people coming back for more.

3. Tap into your consumers themselves:
Fans are constantly sharing their love for their favorite games on social media and in the real world – and these voices are not going unnoticed. The folks behind these games often tap into conversations happening on social media and showcase user-generated content on their mobile apps, live broadcasts and social media channels. This incentivizes more people to take and share photos and videos playing with friends and family. Your consumers can do the same, if they aren’t already. It is essential to use your platform to amplify your consumers themselves. In return, it builds affinity and trust for them to genuinely use (and share) your product or service.

Even I was recently compelled to share a fun video of me playing HQ Trivia with my cousins…


4. Incentives are key:
It’s an old school tactic, but mobile gaming apps prove that incentives – or the chance to receive an incentive, rather – still works today. Your incentive might not need to be a cash prize like some apps, but something to make your fans feel special and appreciated is a must if you want them to keep coming back. Get creative with it!

5. Spice it up:
Of course each app has a set “recipe for success,” but you need to make sure to keep it fresh every time too. Many games feature different themes, bring in special guest hosts, or throw in various elements of surprise. If your content becomes too cookie cutter, bland or predictable, then there’s no reason to tune in and engage more than once.

6. Finally… HAVE FUN:
Do you think millions of people keep flocking to these apps everyday because they’re boring? No! So why do you think the same thing doesn’t apply to your brand’s content? This should really go without saying, but it’s 2018 and too many brands still “play it safe.” C’mon… it’s a new year! Take a risk just like you would on a hard trivia question! If your content is not interesting and it’s clear that you (as a brand) are not having fun through your content, then your consumers will tune out. Fun doesn’t necessarily mean complicated and “expensive,” either. Some of the best brand content I’ve seen are those that clearly did not even come close to breaking the bank. So there are no excuses!

You, too, have the power to be a “game changer” for your own brand. So, what are you waiting for?

If you missed it, check out my colleague John Ratcliffe-Lee’s insights on the topic in PRWeek (login required).