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Keeping Customer Engagement the Sims Social Way

Over the summer, I wrote a post about the Sims Social coming to Facebook and what it would mean for EA’s branding and social media efforts. As an EA Games fangirl, I’m happy to report that Sims Social is doing pretty well for itself. Though I’ll admit, it’s nothing like what I expected.

After how much I’ve complained about movie trailers, I should’ve known that the final Sims Social product wouldn’t mirror the initial trailer. What seemed to be a real-time gaming experience just ended up being a rehashed version of the Zynga model, but with the Sims brand attached to it.

And yet, I find myself playing the darn game almost every night. While this could be attributed to my previous Farmville addiction, the Sims Social is also doing a great job at keeping their fans and players engaged.

Give away something at low/no cost to you. Like many of the games on Facebook, the Sims Social has its own form of currency: Simoleons, Social points, and SimCash. The first two you earn by performing actions in the game, but you need real money to purchase SimCash.

So when active user numbers started declining, Sims Social gave every single player 25 SimCash. You can also send your friends packages with all three in-game currencies, and every consecutive day that you log in to play, you’re given some in-game currency. I’m excited because I can buy more virtual items, and EA is stoked that they are increasing engagement by giving away something that is absolutely free for them to create.

nook display

If you ever need help with your Nook, take it to a B&N store!

Who else is doing it? After the gas pedal fiasco, Toyota has been offering extended warranties and maintenance to rebuild trust; Barnes & Noble offers free in-store support for their Nook products; and many companies hand out promotional products. Giving away something that you already have or requires a little money to produce will not only increase your engagement, but loyalty to your brand.

Get more if users involve their friends. Many of the in-game quests and skill levels cannot be accomplished without reaching out to your fellow Sims Social players. Either you need your “neighbors” to send items via a request, or you have to hope that they will click prompts on your personal wall. (Or, in my case, you have to text your brother until he gives in and clicks.)

But since your friends (or brother) will need to log into the app to send items, there’s a fairly decent chance that they will stick around and play with their avatar. And then they might send you more gifts. And then they might even get involved in a new quest. Suddenly, they’re back to being a casual user again.

buffer be awesome on twitter

More referrals = more Buffer slots

Who else is doing it? A lot of internet startups have been following a similar model. Companies like Dropbox and Buffer will let you use their services for free, but if you recruit new users, they’ll give both parties extra storage space or buffer slots. Once users become enamored with their services, they can either continue on with the free service, or they can upgrade to the premium paid models for an even better user experience.

Create a limited edition product. The Sims Social has created limited edition clothing, furniture, and home décor for holidays and special theme weeks. They’ll feature it in their shop for the season or week, and then phase out the items.

Users who may have dropped off in the past may want to come back for a haunted organ, sci-fi-inspired clothing, or a digital Christmas tree (or in my case, three). The Sims Social pairs these weeks with quests with a limited time frame. If you start one of those, you’re definitely going to be interested in coming back to finish before the quest expires.

pumpkin spice peppermint mocha caramel brulee

These festive Starbucks cups come but once a year.

Who else is doing it? Starbucks sells a multitude of drinks or coffees that only appear once a year; Disney plays their own game of supply and demand with DVD releases; and Target partners with designers to run limited edition clothing lines. In fact, Target’s latest line was so popular that it sold out in a day.

Engagement is a fickle thing. Heck, the Sims Social implemented many of these changes because of their dip in active users. So the next time that you feel your popularity waning, don’t just sit there! Take charge and brainstorm ways to get yourself back in the limelight.

Users, what are some of the ways brands engage you? Brands, what strategies do you use to increase engagement? Any key ones that I missed?

IMAGE CREDIT TO URSONATE, WESLEY FRYER, BUFFERAPP, AND PAULSWANSEN.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Jill Tooley

    I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for limited editions. There’s something about the phrase that naturally makes me think there’s a time restriction, which gets me interested. Limited edition flavors and scents are especially intriguing to me, because I hate having to wait a whole year for pumpkin-flavored or peppermint-scented things I love! ;)

    Another awesome post using the Sims as a resource for business — I really enjoyed this one as well. Social games may annoy us, but there’s no doubt they engage users well! Especially with all of the in-game freebies they’ve had as of late. There are plenty of tips to follow here!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I, too, am a huge sucker for limited edition items. I just gotta have the different scents, flavors, and colors. I think that’s one of the reasons I own so many pairs of Chuck Taylors. I mean, there’s only a time window of time during which I can buy Chucks with a cupcake print! I better buy them NOW. (I almost did this with Walmart’s exclusive blue Wii for Black Friday. I hate Walmart, but it was a LIMITED EDITION BLUE WII. I managed to refrain AND not get pepper sprayed. So I’ll call that a win.)

      The Sims Social had been losing a little luster for me lately, but then when they started giving me so many in-game freebies, I couldn’t help but start playing again.

      • Eric

        “Limited edition” probably sums up my retail behavoir best, and it’s become the bane of my existence. Prime example? Baker’s Square pies. My biggest “Charlie Brown” moment happened in a two-day stretch (didn’t feel like cooking, and wound up having dinner there twice in as many nights). The first night, I ordered the monthly special with my meal. Enjoying the heck out of it (and not being smart enough just to buy one and take it home), I came back the next day, eager to order the same one. And, when I gave the waitress my dessert order? “Sorry, honey, but we don’t have that one anymore.” Whether it be pie at Baker’s Square, the seasonal Cranberry Sierra Mist, or the tie from J.Crew that sells out on me every year before I can buy it (2 years, now!!!)…I’m a big damn sucker for limited edition.

        Which works once a year. If you want big time business from me for four weeks? BAM! There you go. After that? See ya next year! Eric’s impulsive tastes are going back in the vault!

        Neat article, Mandy, and crazy to think actually how many retailers and companies employ this method of sales.

  2. amy

    I love your tip for giving away stuff that is free or little cost to you. It lets customers know that you genuinely care about them. That’s one reason why I love visiting Sam’s or Costco on weekends. I don’t know how many packages they go through when giving away samples, but it seems that for every person who tries it will typically buy it. At least I do (and then I wonder why my freezer is always jam packed with stuff LOL).

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You’re absolutely right! Weekends at places like Sam’s are the best! And I don’t know if it’s just because the sample is good or because you just feel guilty, but I know that we always end up buying a package, too!

      I just recently learned that Jewel samples alcohol on Friday evenings. I went, and I ended up buying like three different kinds of wine. The tiny bits they let me sample probably cost them less than a dollar, and I ended up buying about twenty dollars in wine. Win for me, bigger win for Jewel.

      • amy

        I know what my next Friday night’s plans will be ;) Thanks for the head’s up, Mandy!!

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