The Gamification of Social Marketing

With so many outlets for consumers to choose from, it it vital to the success of a brand to create new and unique opportunities in order to further distinguish their company.  I believe a trend that is occurring right now is interactive advertising, where the brand reaches out directly to the audience and creates a game-like situation, rewarding the consumer for their efforts at the end.  In the gaming world, we have examples of MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and the Diablo Series that provide the player with an objective and rewards for completing the objective.  This ability to be given a goal, and achieve it provides a sense of accomplishment that both rewards and and inspires to continue further exploration.  By applying this concept to the social marketing world, we can find a new way for consumers to become more invested in a brand thus creating a stronger, more intimate relationship between the two.  Certain brands have already begun to do this, some with more success than others.  The two campaigns that stick out in my mind are Zedd’s True Colors and Bud Light’s #upforwhatever.


To promote his new album True Colors, Zedd put together one-of-a kind interactive listening parties, where he would debut one song from his new album.  Each song was debuted in a different city, represented by different colors, and at unique locations that each represented what the song is and felt like in the mind of Zedd.


In order to win access into these private events, fans were required to take photos in front of six Zedd stickers and then make it to the final big Z and stomp on it, and the first 60 people to complete this task won.  Upon winning, they would receive passes to the event, and would then be taken to on adventures to places such as Joshua Tree, the Grand Canyon, caves, and a aquarium to name a few.  At each of these locations, the fans would get the opportunity to meet Zedd, discuss the music and listen to the new songs.  This campaign does an amazing job of utilizing as many different aspects of social media as possible and applying them to this campaign.  First, in order to participate in attempting to get the tickets, it is a must that you follow Zedd True Colors on Twitter in order to find out the location of the tags and the final Z-Square.  Second, during the scavenger hunt process, the participants will have to use #ZeddTrueColors in order for the people running the event to know who wins.  Secondarily, though, by having everybody tweet that hashtag you are getting free advertising on the hashtag of the new name of Zedd’s album.  The next step of the process is the actual listening events themselves, and by creating such unique experiences, the people who attend are going to take photos and post those photos of the events to their various social media.  This spreads the album onto FaceBook as well as Instagram, thus exposing an even wider audience to the new Zedd album.  Lastly, the Zedd team is able to put together a recap video for every city they visited and upload that to YouTube, and then use that medium to allow the winners to relive the experience, and the people who were not able to participate get a glimpse into what these events might have been like.  In order to make these events possible, Zedd required outside sponsorships and smartly teamed with a cellular device company, T-Mobile.  This cross-promotion with T-Mobile allowed for Zedd to create this unique experience for his fans while also not having to pay for the advertising himself.  Zedd is also sponsored by Beats, so he incorporated the Beats into every recap video, as well as having the fans listen to the new song via the Beats themselves.  This type of campaign is the perfect way for brands to connect to their consumers in a more direct way than even these digital platforms can provide.

Another campaign that occurred, but ended with more backlash, was Bud Light’s #upforwhatever campaign.  While the campaign started out great, by having people who are drinking Bud Light, ask them if they “are up for whatever” and then bringing them on an unforgettable experience.  This is a very similar campaign to the Zedd True Colors, in the aspects of creating a one-time-only experience for people and then allowing them to share that experience across all of their social media platforms.  The issue with this campaign though, ended up being the slogan itself, as at one point the bottles ended up with this tagline: “The perfect beer for removing NO from your vocabulary for the night.”

This is a great example of how easy it is for a company to blindly miss the possible rape connotations that could come out of that tagline, especially with an alcoholic beverage.  This reveals that brands have to be very thought-out in how they voice their message.

Today, everybody has the ability to get their brand noticed through the digital world we inhabit, but the difficulty of today is breaking your brand through the rest of the noise.  While Zedd is an established music artist with a dedicated fanbase, I believe that brands can apply this gamification strategy to their own marketing campaigns.  Rather than using social media to be the destination for all information regarding an artist, why not use it as a catalyst in order to further engage your audience and reach out to them in the real world.  By giving your consumer an objective, means to complete that objective, and a reward, you are engaging them in a way that will create more interest in the brand as well as strengthen their loyalty to the brand.  With every passing day, the world of gaming is becoming the place to be whether you are on the backend of creating the game or as a consumer, the immersion into these worlds creates for a bond that is very difficult to break as well as replicate.






One thought on “The Gamification of Social Marketing

  1. I think Zedd did an awesome job coming up with a campaign that was totally out of the box. It is totally interactive and created a way for his following to bring buzz to his campaign in a new a innovative way. I haven’t heard of this campaign prior to this article and I think it is one worth noting.

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