About hermanjonker

Third-year Bachelor student (Business Administration at RSM Erasmus University)

Social Media and Gaming

“Gamers are loners.”, “Gaming is not social.”, “Everything was better in the past.”
In the old days, when kids went to the arcade, they went with friends. These days, kids lock themselves in their rooms alone with their gaming device. That isn’t social, or is it?

Sony and Microsoft don’t agree with these statements. Their latest products, respectively the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, have social media integrated. They blend the online and offline world. For example, when a friend finds a legendary item while playing ‘single player’, the position of this item appears on your single player map too.
While playing a videogame you can also stream your gameplay live. This way your friends can watch you play and via their headsets they can interact with you. There’s even the possibility to aid your friend while using your tablet or phone. (Hunt 2013)

You could say console gamers are finally catching up with PC gamers on the social aspect. Failbetter Games, for example, is pulling people in socially long before Sony and Microsoft did. Failbetter creates unique interactive stories, like Fallen London, “which could be best described as a sort of choose your own adventure story in which you play alongside Facebook and Twitter friends, asking them for help”. (Harper 2013)

Moreover, the crowd-funding website Kickstarter lets both big and small game developers fund their game ideas. This really changes the gaming industry, because fans spread the word themselves via Twitter instead of the developer marketing their games via traditional media. (Harper 2013)

There are countless communities where people spread their love for gaming. People interacting, collaborating and sharing. Building new relationships, maintaining them, even ending some.
It’s like people are all around you, but are they really? Is it the same as having a real person standing next to you, breathing? What is the difference? Do you think people are less social because of these changes in gaming that are supposed to make it more social?

References:
– Hunt, T. (2013) ‘5 Ways Video Game Companies are Leveraging Social Media’. Visited on 4 November 2015 via https://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/media-journalism/5-ways-video-game-companies-are-leveraging-social-media/.
– Harper, E. (2013) ‘Insiders Explain How Social Media and Video Games Are Merging’. Visited on 4 November 2015 via http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-video-games/.

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I guess you’ve all come across these ads on the internet. Some of you may have clicked on them. Lately, these kind of ‘ads’ are disappearing. Those were/are all scams to get your personal and financial data or infiltrate your computer with viruses. Other (real) advertising banners have also become less and less effective, amongst other things thanks to these scams. What can we do to make online advertising effective again?

From a jaw-dropping 50-90% Click Through Rate to a poor 0.1% CTR (MacDonald 2015). You could say banner ads are not an effective way to promote your product, service or company. There’s also a term describing the phenomenon where website visitors consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information. This is called banner blindness (Nielsen 2007). Yet, there are some ways to improve your (banner) advertising.

Media rich engagement ads are ‘voluntary’ ads. In other words, they expand and play, once you hover above these interactive ads more than two seconds. Beware, consumers may also develop banner blindness to these engagement ads.
Banner blindness does not extend to audio, thus Podcasts are another effective alternative to traditional banners. For example, Spotify uses audio advertising like this. However, hearing the same voice and text over and over again, can be very annoying for consumers.

The opposite of Sponsored Posts and a very effective kind of advertising posts is User Generated Content. In short, consumers themselves post about you on their social networks creating a ‘buzz’. Be careful though: this ‘buzz’ can also be a negative one.
The idea behind Content Marketing is not creating ads that look like content, but actually creating content. “Don’t sell anything, just be useful.” Take a look at CMO.com, Adobe’s initiative (MacDonald 2015).

Another great way to increase advertising effectiveness is not to improve these banners, but rather on how to replace these ineffective (banner) ads. The answer to this problem is: using apps.
Starbucks does a tremendous job by using their app to involve consumers. ‘For Mobile Devices, Think Apps, Not Ads’ (Gupta 2013) discusses some tips to increase this consumer involvement:
– Add convenience
– Offer unique value
– Provide social value
– Offer incentives
– Entertain

The Starbucks app does more than just advertise its products. If you’re interested, you can read more about it in the article.

Do you know other new, creative ways to advertise? Let me know in the comment section below!

References:
– Gupta, S. (2013) ‘For mobile devices, think apps, not ads’, Harvard Business Review 91(3) 71-75.
– MacDonald, M. (2015) ‘Better than Banner Ads: Smart ways to spend your ad dollars in 2015’ via http://www.tintup.com/blog/better-than-banner-ads-smart-ways-spend-ad-dollars-2015-muriel-macdonald/ on September 23, 2015.
– Nielsen, J. (2007) ‘Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings’ via http://www.nngroup.com/articles/banner-blindness-old-and-new-findings/ on September 23, 2015.

Pewdiepie

I guess you’ve all heard of the YouTube celebrity Felix Kjellberg A.K.A. Pewdiepie. If not, he is the most subscribed YouTuber with an astounding 40 million subscribers, mostly playing ‘indie’ or unpopular videogames while live commentating the event. In 2015, his annual income is estimated to be 4 million dollars a year and his net worth is estimated around 16 million dollars. And he’s only 25 years old! (Net Worth 2015)
Where does all this money come from?

First, let me freshen up your memory by explaining the phenomenon called ‘Social Commerce’. “Simply defined, social commerce is the fusion of social media with e-commerce or basically the concept of word-of-mouth applied to e-commerce.” (Marsden 2010)
So, in the case of Pewdiepie’s channel there are some signs of social commerce. For example, every month Pewds gets a package containing several collector items which are all related by theme, like ‘Villains’. He unboxes the items on screen and comments on them. At the end of the video he advises people to also buy these ‘Loot Crates’. The video below is one of the examples of this word-of-mouth on his channel.

Another important way companies gain a lot of awareness is when Pewdiepie plays their game. Then, the so-called Oprah effect comes into force. The Oprah effect is the effect that an appearance on a famous show can have on a small business. (Investopedia 2015) Because Pewdiepie nearly has 10 billion views, a recommendation can have a significant influence on the game developers.

Not a lot of people know that Pewdiepie actually is signed under Maker Studios, a company owned by Walt Disney, which produces videos for channels on YouTube. (Maker Studios 2015) The funny thing is, Pewdiepie says in his videos that he never gets paid to promote the videogames he plays. (YouTube 2015)

Is he telling the truth? Or is he lying and exploiting all of his subscribers? That making money is his main motive?
What do you guys think?

References:
– Investopedia (2015) Oprah Effect http://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/oprah-effect.asp
– Maker Studios (2015) Makers http://www.makerstudios.com/makers
– Marsden, P. (2010) Social Commerce: Monetizing Social Media, Hamburg: Syzygy.
– Net Worth (2015) Pewdiepie http://www.the-net-worth.com/2015/05/pewdiepie/
– YouTube (2015) Pewdiepie https://www.youtube.com/user/PewDiePie/

Social Influence and Diffusion (Homework assignment)

For the homework assignment I had to discuss and criticize the required readings related to the topic ‘Social Influence and Diffusion’. I also had to pick a related paper of my own interest and another two mini-case examples for comparison and discussion. The challenge for me was to stay below the page limit, because there was a lot of ground to cover.

The first paper (Eisenmann et al. 2006) gives these mediating companies, whose products and/or services are called platforms, advice on how to act in two-sided networks. Eisenmann et al. provide three steps to help managers make the right decisions. The implicit conclusion lacked a summary.

The second paper (Aral and Walker 2011) I read, the writers asked themselves two basic questions: Can you add features to a product causing it to go viral? If so, which viral features are most effective in inducing Word-of-mouth and peer-to-peer influence in product adoption? To answer these questions they conducted a randomized field experiment testing the effectiveness of two of the most common viral features. The results were very insightful, not unexpected though.

The third and final required reading (Li et al. 2013) was, more than the paper above, very practical and pragmatic. Sometimes a bit complicated, but that’s because there is much (complex) data involved. Some of the results were unexpected, but when I read the explanations they made sense. The conclusion/discussion was satisfying; stressing a few final points not really mentioned before.

Reading the required readings for week six I expected the topics to be more like this paper (Bakshy et al. 2009): less business-oriented and more focused on the social aspect. I therefore chose to discuss this writing because it’s a different perspective. I also liked the idea of a social experiment in a virtual reality world.

If we compare this paper, for example, with “Strategies for two-sided markets” (Eisenmann et al. 2006) we see that the members are the ‘subsidy side’, Second Life is the platform and the ‘money side’ are the companies who advertise their products and/or services in this virtual world. This way we could combine the managerial knowledge we gained from reading the research papers to ‘beat’ the market.

The first mini-case example (DDMA 2011) has some things in common with “Creating Social Contagion through Viral Product Design: A Randomized Trial of Peer Influence in Networks”. (Aral and Walker 2011) Both give suggestions on how to create a viral effect. Both are a bit outdated too, because the internet is a fast-growing environment; in four or five years a lot can change. The Peugeot case is very practical, but also a bit simple. They should have elaborated more.

The second mini-case example (Stanley 2012) is inspirational, because it can happen to anyone who is motivated. A step-by-step plan is included, but doesn’t really give you any advice on how to actually complete those steps. It only gives the example of the student. In the end, however, she provided some useful tips from her successful networking initiative.

References:

  • Aral, S. and Walker, D. (2011) Creating social contagion through viral product design: A randomized trial of peer influence in networks. Management Science 57(9) 1623-1639.
  • Bakshy, E., Karrer, B., Adamic, L.A. (2009) Social Influence and the Diffusion of User-Created Content. EC ’09: 325-334.
  • nl (2011) E-mail marketing & Social (Influence) Peugeot Case. https://ddma.nl/data/e-mailmarketing-social-influence-peugeot-case/
  • Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., and Van Alstyne, M.W. (2006) Strategies for Two-Sided Markets. Harvard Business Review 84(10) 92-101.
  • Li, T., Sprengers, D., and van Dalen, J. (2013) Leveraging public sentiment to beat the market. Working Paper.
  • Stanley, D. (2012) Case study: Using social influence to build a personal brand. http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/10/04/case-study-using-social-influence-to-build-a-personal-brand/