It seems like every few weeks facebook, Google, and other search engine and online Socially Networked sites make changes in layout, rankings, file handling and in the case of facebook especially changes to privacy settings that “reconnect” users as a default value in at least some of the network.
2. The name of the game in marketing today is engagement and not exposure.
This trend can be seen in video games – they have developed into time consuming, never-ending quests to reach higher levels, Social Networks that create and disband teams on an International 24/7 schedule and the whole system and community is carefully designed, engineered and studied to maximize the time you will stay engaged, the bonds you will create with other players and the likelihood that you will continue with that game franchise and buy the newest version.
In November of 2010, at my own personal house, I witnessed the phenomenon of the release of the new Call of Duty: Black Ops game – my oldest son made sure that we had the game delivered the day of release to our house and he and his younger brothers joined a pretty much non-stop at least 3 day binge that assisted the company in a 5 day sales total of $650 million worldwide, 2.6 million people playing the game on X-Box live the first day the game was available. That’s just X-Box, doesn’t include Playstation. COD: Black Ops obliterates MW2 sales record | The Digital Home – CNET News
Why engagement? Because if you can prove that people are engaged and will be exposed to a marketing message, you can command a higher price from advertisers. But this is a dance in the world of Social Networks… if advertising is pushed too soon or too hard, consumers disengage and may even form a dislike for your brand.
Who’s choreographing this dance? In the gaming industry, teams of psychologists, game theorists, designers and marketers study player behavior on many levels including testing their memory and attenuation of layouts, level patterns, team members and virtual objects, their feelings about their team and social bonds (Just try to get a 14 year old boy to step away from the game on short notice during team play!). They also study brain patterns using virtual MRI’s and EEG readings, hormone level fluctuation indicating pleasure and aggression that are kept in a sophisticated balance and how long it will take the average player to work through enough levels and have the funds and willingness to purchase the newest game version or game station upgrade.
• Benefit? Social Networking and even game playing increases the speed at which news travels, can increase positive social bonds and greatly enhances long distance relationships. A recent study showed that even non-socially adept and withdrawn game players became more social and developed more real life friendships due to rewiring of their brains to enjoy interacting with others. TED 2010: Reality Is Broken. Game Designers Must Fix It | Epicenter | Wired.com
• Caveat? Time spent online in games and in Social Networks is a concern for parents, teachers and employers. If you are a traditional marketer, the hostility that may be felt for your brand when you interrupt a viewer or push marketing messages in way they don’t enjoy or feel used by could decrease your business. If you take someone who stops watching regular television or listening to commercial radio and switches to using Netflix or Hulu or other online venues that bypass all or most commercials – and then re-expose them to 25% advertising to get 75% program viewing…it isn’t pleasant.