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.
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.
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.
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?