Playing the Game: How Social Media Moved the Needle for 'Spy Hunter' Campaign
By Brad Carraway, VP, brand strategy, Mile 9 -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/28/2012 2:22:26 PM
That was the challenge for our Calabasas, Calif.-based full-service agency Mile 9, which was commissioned by Warner Bros. Games to helm the development and management of an integrated social media campaign for the latest installment of Spy Hunter, the legendary arcade classic reborn for the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS gaming systems. It was literally a sprint from the moment go.
Since the official Facebook page was going to be the primary online brand destination for Spy Hunter, getting it right was vital. And gaining a quality audience of followers on Twitter and driving video views on YouTube were also going to be mission critical to our success.
In order to thrive, we had to focus on what mattered to our audience of gamers, and we made the conscious decision to forgo other ancillary opportunities like Pinterest that wouldn't have moved the needle for them.
How impressive were the results? Over the course of three months, Mile 9:
- Grew the Spy Hunter social community audience from scratch to over 11,800 fans on Facebook, 700 followers on Twitter and a commanding 442,000 total video views on the game's official YouTube channel.
- More importantly, the social media campaign drove upwards of 60 million impressions during the game's crucial launch month, propelling it into the top 10 list of most popular games on many gaming sites.
None of this would have been possible without Mile 9's core social media strategies.
Mapped Out a Content Strategy and Execution Calendar
With a compressed timeframe to work within, developing a weekly content strategy and execution calendar enabled Mile 9's social media team to efficiently plan out key asset postings, while giving them the flexibility to integrate ad-hoc content posts on the fly.
In the calendar, the team mapped out a weekly evolution of content, including game features to highlight, marketing assets (e.g. promotional trailers, screenshots, etc.) to promote and community engagement activities along with their corresponding intended consumer action.
We really started with keeping our hoped-for end result -- consumer action -- in mind, and working backwards. Whether it was eliciting community feedback, user participation or driving video views or pre-orders for the game, we outlined both overarching objectives and weekly focus objectives and built our content around netting those ends.
Grew Community Size and Reach via Integrated Support
To support and grow the Spy Hunter social community, Warner Bros. and Mile 9 employed a mix of paid, organic and viral reach initiatives.
In a sense, what was easy for us was that our social media pages represented the brand's online presence, so we marketed them as such, with a three-prong approach of social networking site (SNS), search engine marketing (SEM) and online banner ads, while selectively using promoted posts to amplify stories that we felt were most relevant to our audience.
Additional organic and viral growth came through encouraging users to share their Spy Hunter community participation with others, connecting with gaming and broad-reaching influencers via Twitter and cross-promoting social media pages through marketing components such as tagging on trailers and print ads.
A great example of viral reach initiatives used by the team was cross-promoting the game via Twitter with local radio personalities such as Manny Streetz, a key fixture of the Ryan Seacrest morning show on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.
While KIIS-FM and other stations were featuring 'call in to win game' giveaways, Mile 9 connected with on-air personalities via Twitter, helping to drive the stations' fast-growing Spy Hunter contest audiences. In response, the on-air personalities in turn promoted the Spy Hunter social media pages, extending the brand's reach to tens of thousands of new Twitter followers.
Doing Some Active Listening
No social media campaign lives in a vacuum, but rather in the ecosystem of your community. This is especially true when you have an enthusiast base of consumers -- and for us, active listening and having a proactive response strategy was one of the keys to our success on Spy Hunter.
As the "voice" of the Spy Hunter brand online, the team made it a top priority to respond quickly to questions, comments or feedback, and often refined content postings or timing based on the qualitative feedback they were "hearing" from the community.
Growing a community base will only take you so far; it's what you do with it once it's there that really matters. We treated everyone who came into our community as one of our own, as an opportunity to get to know them, connect with them and ultimately give them reasons to become advocates for our brand.
It's no secret that developing and managing a successful social media campaign requires not only a daily commitment to developing and nurturing an engaging two-way conversation with your audience, but also an integrated strategy to deliver on the objectives of your business and brand.
And, while every campaign has its own unique character, personality and style, strategies such as content release calendar, integrated support and active listening can be keys to success in developing or enhancing virtually any social media campaign. It sure worked well for us on Spy Hunter.
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