Pokémon Go-Getters: Capitalizing on the Sociocultural Trend

http://dev.villanovaice.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/suburban-square-pokemon-go.jpgSummer 2016 will forever be remembered as the summer of Pokémon Go. This past July, Niantic released the augmented reality app in the US, sparking an almost immediate cultural phenomenon. Children and adults alike flocked to art museums and parks, their gazes fixed on their smartphones. For better or worse, restaurants became Gym battlegrounds and social media exploded with Pokémon-themed content.

As the digital marketing intern at the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB), I spent a majority of my time building web pages with content designed to encourage tourism in Montgomery County. With Pokémon Go’s geolocation capabilities (i.e. Pokémon appear at real-world locations), I saw a huge opportunity for the tourism industry. One week after the US release of the app, I created Pokémon Go in Montco. The page was a list of Pokémon hotspots, featuring photos of the virtual creatures across recognizable locations in the county.

The success of Pokémon Go in Montco was unprecedented. After a huge response in pageviews (20,000 and counting) and social media shares, we knew we needed to keep the ball rolling on this remarkable fad. Next thing I know, I’m traipsing through Valley Forge Park looking for Pikachu, zigzagging through the zoo for Pidgey, and mall-walking for Mankey. With a comprehensive Pokémon blog series and purchasing the PokeMontco.com domain in addition to the original page, the online PokéMontco campaign captured nearly a quarter of our pageviews for the month of July.

<br/ >http://dev.villanovaice.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/elmwood-park-zoo-pidgey-pokemon-go.jpgUltimately, the key to capitalizing on Pokémon Go was relevance and credibility. The geolocation capabilities of the app were a natural fit for tourism; thus, promoting Montgomery County through Pokémon Go did not feel forced. We provided our online audience with information they were seeking by creating content that corresponded with commonly searched Pokémon Go keywords in the area, such as “pokemon go king of prussia mall.”  Furthermore, by playing on location and blogging about my personal Pokémon experiences, serious players trusted VFTCB as a reliable source. Regardless of whether or not Pokémon Go was considered a flash in the pan, we certainly made the most of it.