Not so killer use of SCVNGR

A few days ago I offered a basic rundown of the smartphone application SCVNGR. If you haven’t yet heard of SCVNGR, it’s probably worth a read. Click here.

If you have heard of SCVNGR, what follows is the important stuff. Here I will talk about how SCVNGR can be a marketing tool for businesses, while providing insight on how Showtime could have used SCVNGR more effectively.

Since I’ve already written about how SCVNGR works, I’ll just dive right into what I found when I started the hunt.

Social media is at its best when it transcends the bound of the cyber world and enters real life. When I got to my first stop on the hunt (the Seattle Aquarium), I spent about 10 minutes looking around for the booth or person from Showtime who I should be checking in with. I was shocked when there was no one there. Turns out, this scavenger hunt was done completely through SCVNGR.

There was NO human interaction. I expected the program would be integrated into a real life hunt or real life activities. For example, I would have thought that at the Aquarium, I might have to have my body traced like a crime scene or have my photo taken on a boat that looked like Dexter’s “Slice of Life.” No, instead I just had to take a picture of something that looked like a sea monster. What does that even have to do with Dexter?

I viewed this as a truly missed opportunity for Showtime. First of all, having a booth or a representative at each stop attracts attention. It clues people into the fact that something unique is going on. This gives the company the opportunity to promote the scavenger hunt and consequently the show to a new audience.

Second of all, it would allow the brand to touch its biggest fans. Dexter is a popular show, but the percent people who actually would participate in a citywide scavenger hunt dedicated to the show is proportionally small.  The people who would participate are big fans who are tuned into digital marketing—AKA the same people who are primed to be social media advocates.

What’s a social media advocate? Basically this is a person who interacts with a brand online. They don’t work for a brand, but they’ll often retweet, reply, and ask questions to that brand. They are the next step in the viral process that is social media. A social media advocate shares a brand’s message and is excited to do so.

One of the best ways to reinforce a relationship with a social media advocate is taking that relationship offline. As silly as it might sound, it makes the advocate feel “special.” It gives them a higher degree of commitment to their cause—promoting the brand.

It’s not always possible for a brand to connect in this way with their consumers/advocates offline, which is why when the opportunity is there a company needs to take advantage of it! Showtime REALLY missed out on this opportunity. For a promotion to rely on a social platform and then the company not engage in social behavior is silly and short-sighted. In today’s social world, marketing is more about conversation and significantly less about conversion.

Honestly, with no company representative to encourage participation at each stop, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a quick search of Twitter and a scan of the Dexter Facebook page came up with almost no one talking about this scavenger hunt. I participated in the hunt the second to last day, and I only found two mentions on Twitter. For a social campaign, that’s abysmal.

What’s perhaps more upsetting is that a press release about SCVNGR and how Showtime was using the platform was all over the blogosphere. People knew about this event, but it lost a lot of creditability among social crowds because (in my opinion) Showtime failed to create advocates.

I think it’s clear that I found this promotion to be a failure. So how would I do it?

I work in the sports industry. If I were going to use this platform to promote my team (and I think I might), I would set up stations around my city. First, I’d look to our corporate sponsors for locations. Sponsored by a BBQ shack? Make it a challenge to try three different samples of BBQ sauce and then have participants input their favorite variety. Have another station where a participant pitches to an inflatable catcher or takes a slap shot on a street hockey net. A challenge could be posing for a picture with the team mascot, then sharing with their Facebook network.

Keep things fun, keep things upbeat, have a representative at every stop, involve sponsors and involve participants’ existing social networks. In this way, a SCVNGR hunt can become a pep rally for your brand.

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