March 13

A Brave New World

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Over the last 36 months social networks, social media and social gaming have become fundamental mediums for communicating, sharing, entertaining and even driving business. For many consumers and working professionals, Facebook and other social networks such as LinkedIn have become a direct extension of their daily lives. Social networks and communication platforms like Twitter capture and influence how, what and when groups of people communicate, how large social groups of people are entertained via social games and video, and provide a platform for how consumers share information about their buying experiences and preferences.

Current research shows that 91% of mobile internet access is to “socialize;” women ages 35-54 are the most active group in mobile socialization and 29% of all mobile users surveyed are “open” to scanning a mobile tag to get coupons. These are powerful trends that many corporations are trying to tap into and they are directly impacting how companies are marketing, selling and branding themselves to consumers and to business partners.

Most companies are seeking ways to gain greater insight into customer purchasing patterns, preferences and needs. At the same time today’s tech-savvy, mobile consumers and working professionals expect to be informed, collaborated with, and entertained while they perform their day to day activities. This is causing many companies to rethink legacy sales and marketing strategies and many companies are now attempting to integrate social media, social networking, social gaming and mobile advertising techniques into existing marketing, sales, branding and customer service efforts.

Some retailers are redesigning certain locations in order to appear to be more “community” based or to become physical representations of a “social network” where large groups of consumers can go to socialize and spend money while they share, collaborate, and are entertained.

According to BIA/Kelsey’s U.S. Local Media Forecast (2011-2016), social media advertising in the United States will grow from $3.8 billion in 2011 to $9.8 billion in 2016. The firm projected the local segment of social advertising to grow from $840 million in 2011 to $3.1 billion in 2016, representing a CAGR of 29.8 percent. Additionally, the report forecasted a $4.8 billion social media ad spend in 2012.

eMarketer recently reported that a larger percentage of corporate and product marketing budgets are being spent on social media, social and mobile advertising and video.

While social media spending is increasing, the trend of integrating corporate and product advertising and marketing into social and casual gaming also continues to grow. Facebook reports over 1 billion monthly users, controls 57% of all social network media advertising and one of the largest most dominant providers of social and casual gaming in the world.

Between 2009 and 2012 the worldwide social gaming market grew from $1.84 billion to over $6.2 billion. The market is expected to be $7.49 billion in 2013, and $8.64 billion in 2014. This represents not only massive consumer adoption but corporate adoption as well.

For over 10 years many global corporations have tested the impact of using video games and simulations to train employees. Now they are beginning to integrate corporate and product branding, product advertising, product placements and coupons into social and casual games.

Utilizing games to entertain, educate and inform consumers and working professionals appears to be a growing trend that is not going away. Highly entertaining, addictive, social communication devices like tablets and smartphones are utilized by hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis to complete personal and business tasks – and social networking, social gaming and social media are integrated directly into these devices.

Why not integrate a few highly addictive ingredients like coffee, social gaming and social networking into a single marketing and sales experience?

There are hundreds of millions of ipads, tablets and smartphones that have been adopted within the consumer market. Those devices are highly entertaining and are highly effective communication and presentation devices. These devices provide users with an integrated work-play-social experience that users get addicted to and now they are beginning to proliferate within corporate workforces.

Companies like UPS, McDonalds, Cisco and Marriott are beginning to utilize social and casual games to recruit talent, train and enable employees and business partners, distributors etc. Multiple companies like Selleration Games and LifeGames are attempting to integrate new hire assessment and screening practices into social and casual games so they can more effectively identify candidates who demonstrate “the right stuff.”

Schools at the K-12 levels are utilizing video games to teach students a variety of topics and major Universities like Harvard and Oxford have reportedly developed fun exciting video games to teach undergrads math, business and financial topics. Major Universities are offering free classes via Apple iTunes; you can now access Ivy League quality curriculum, education, lectures via video etc. all through iTunes on your iPad or iPhone.

Every level of society, from children to professors to CEOs appear to be engaged with some aspect of social networks, social media or social gaming. I can see a future where corporations distribute training to consumers and working professionals through iTunes, deliver product training, marketing and advertising via highly addictive, entertaining social games that can be delivered on any tablet, PC or smartphone or accessed via a social network like Facebook or Linkedin.

It’s a brave new world…perhaps it is time to rethink how we are using social networks, social media and social gaming to attract and engage consumers and business partners within each of our industries. The results should be quite powerful!

3_13 1-EMark Dallmeier is the co-founder of LifeGames, creators of BaristaLife a new social game for the coffee industry (www.baristalife.net). Mark has co-founded a number of software and services companies, is a well known management consultant and has held Chief Executive, Marketing, Strategy and Sales roles within multiple companies.

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