Offline is mimicking online fervor. All the 'kids' are doing it. Multiple facets of business are better discovered, engaged, and shared on the Web. We do and will see ongoing shifts. Consider Danny Sullivan's observations of the WSJ. How about WSJ's coverage of Verizon's spectrum deal?
Online is the place to be. Like printed-news counterparts, magazines are making online transitions as well. A NY Times article showcases a unique off-to-online transition. How does getting 'fit' online sound? No, Self magazine isn't teaming with Nintendo Wii (though the digital world is creating strange 'partnerships'). Today, the mag has plans to introduce an online game, hosting the name of an offline, 'Self Workout in the Park' event.
The online event is brand new. The offline event has been taking place for 19 years in New York and other locations. Women are primarily the target market; online games involve health and wellness implements as well as elements of beauty and fashion. The goal is to closely emulate the offline version while implementing online avatars, puzzles, opportunities to win goods, and get (your avatar?) in shape.
Though Self Magazine's iteration of online play is new, the online gaming notion is not. We know 'social games.' Think Farmville and Badgeville.
Self is reported to invest a mid-six-figure amount toward the marketing effort. That's a lot of magazine sales. In addition, marketers (BlackBerry, 7 for All Mankind) aligned with the Self game, have invested several hundred thousand dollars for sponsors.
Why? I think New York Times author, Stuart Elliott hits the nail on the head:
The Self effort is part of a growing trend that reflects how profoundly legacy media like magazines are rethinking how they seek revenue from advertisers and consumers.
Okay, brands with similar ideas, perhaps you're inspired; however, as a marketer with intense interest in branding and reputation management, I naturally take notice to genuine intentions and how implementations ultimately…play out. Consider this article by another Times' reporter. Who's playing who regarding 'gamification'? I wrote about gamification on my personal blog a few weeks ago.
My advice is to engage in gamification for the right reasons, such as to build an online community and strengthen connections with your brand's users. In addition, don't assume participants are in it for genuine reasons as well. Do they want prizes or do they really champion your brand?
I know some online marketing tactics seem intriguing and really innovative; but, will they specifically work for your brand? At this point in your brand's history? Is the process the right fit for your brand and users?
In his post, Elliott directs attention toward the odd dynamic of a fitness brand endeavoring at intriguing its brand users to 'get fit online.'
It may seem odd that a magazine dedicated to encouraging its readers to improve themselves — whether through its editions in print, online and on mobile devices, its mobile apps, a mobile texting diet and events like Workout in the Park — would offer them an opportunity to stay sedentary and play a game in which their avatars, rather than their physical selves, try to shed pounds and buff up.
If you neglect your 'self' in offline life, your body shows it. If you neglect your online 'Self' avatar, it shows too, shadowing 'reality.' Will Self's community be interested in staying fit and intrigued offline and on too? Self needs to ask itself that question and so does your brand before online game engagement.
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