When news was reporting on the dangers of Pokemon Go, one Reddit user took that opportunity to promote his safety App, getting heaps of attention and downloads in the process. When Pokemon Go launched on July 6th, it took the mantle of the fastest downloaded app of all time. So popular that, according to data from Google, people were searching for Pokemon Go more than porn!
Naturally, with any modern trend, people become hungry for news.
Facebook users shared stories about businesses using lures to attract attention; Twitter users shared funny screenshots of Pokemon through the ‘augmented reality’ mode; news sites reported on the dangers of staring at your phone instead of the road; tech blogs reported on how Pokemon’s VR is the future of gaming; financial sites reported on how Nintendo’s stock is rising; and even Forbes, known for their business-focused material, had articles such as ‘Ten things I wish I knew before I started Pokemon Go.’
From people to businesses, everyone had something to say about Pokemon Go. When companies jump on major trends to increase their reach and exposure, that is known as Newsjacking. When a trend resonates with people, they will get so hungry for information that they will click on anything about that topic.
I imagine Forbes has now attracted thousands of young new readers who came for the Pokemon Go stories, and now know of Forbes as a brand.
What is Newsjacking?
Professional marketer David Meerman Scott coined the term in his book ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR‘, and quickly gained popularity in 2012 for content marketers.
Newsjacking Has Three Significant Benefits:
- It lets your audience know that you are up to date on current events.
- It amplifies your voice to attract a new audience who may have stumbled onto your article
- Your unique perspective on a popular trend can convert the new audience into fans.
Let’s look at how developers jumped into the Pokemon Go conversation and plugged their work.
Newsjacking with Pokemon Go
During the release of Pokemon Go, millions of fans flocked to their favorite social media site to share stories about Pokemon Go. Savvy Devs used that opportunity to market.
Reddit user Ashterothi promoted his safety app in the Pokemon Go subreddit and received almost 900 upvotes. Reddit user Razor-PT gave advice on GPS tracking for his Fake GPS app in that same subreddit to score almost 3400 upvotes. While Klei (the makers of Don’t Starve) made a Don’t Starve/Pokemon Go crossover that amounted to 185 retweets and 565 likes – becoming their top tweet ever according to favstar.fm.
I also jumped on the Pokemon Go trend, by creating a presentation titled: “3 things to learn from Pokemon Go’s disasterous launch.”
When to Newsjack
While it’s easy to jump on any trending news, your timing is also critical.
Below is a chart to explain the optimal time to Newsjack, courtesy of David Meerman Scott’s website, www.newsjacking.com.
By now, Pokemon Go has passed its “peak” stage and is slowly moving into the “old news” stage. But think of other significant gaming moments you can Newsjack.
Events – Such as E3, GDC, PAX
Launches – When major releases are launching.
Controversies – Trends that affect developers – like key resellers or piracy for example.
Industry changes – like VR, 3D gaming or new consoles.
These gaming moments don’t have to be major trends internationally. A start strategy is to Newsjack on a smaller scale. One example would be if your favorite fantasy author quotes Nietzsche in their new book release, and your game is covered with Nietzsche references, that’s an opportunity to Newsjack and attract their audience to your game.
How to Newsjack Without Being Spammy
While it may seem disingenuous to market your material in front of someone else’s limelight, imagine this perspective:
During Pokemon Go’s server failures, wouldn’t YOUR GAME have been a great alternative?
If fans are counting down the days for the next [strategy/puzzle/indie darling] to be released, wouldn’t your game (if similar) be valuable to suggest?
With Newsjacking, you’re also letting your audience know about those new releases. To me—that is a victory for both of you.
When you jump into any conversation, it’s important to know the audience you’re targeting. If you’re new to the particular community/social media platform, spend time reading the top 10 posts to get a feeling for what works best.
Look at the style of that community/social media platform.
- Do they post a direct link?
- Are posts one sentence long? One paragraph long? Just images?
- Is the tone super serious, super light-hearted, or somewhere in the middle?
- Are their specific tags, hashtags, or mentions?
- Are comments relevant to get views, or is it more important to get likes/favs/pins/etc.?
- Emulating successful posts gives you a one-up when you’re posting.
The framing of your Newsjack should be one that shows you are a fan, that you’re coming from a place of nerdy excitement. You’re entering their territory to talk to them. So it’s never a good idea to insult them and put those fans on the defensive.
Using Pokemon Go as an example-
GOOD IDEA: “As a huge fan of Pokemon since Red/Blue, I’ve always loved . . . ”
BAD IDEA: Pokemon games haven’t innovated since Red/Blue. My game is Pokemon for grown-ups . . . “
Add to the Trend—Don’t Subtract!
What useful insight can you and your game offer? What are the analogs to the trend you are Newsjacking and your game?
Using Pokemon Go again as an example-
GOOD IDEA: Talking about how your monster game is also affected by the weather around you, and how real world interactions is the future of gaming.
BAD IDEA: Talking about how REAL GAMES should be played indoors, like your game.
All the Newsjacking That’s Fit to Print
As you can see, Newsjacking is one of the easiest marketing tactics that can get your game in front of a hungry audience. With a thoughtful approach, you can quickly grow your following.
What Newsjacking opportunities do you see that are coming up? Let me know in the comments.