Gossip Girl: 5 Things Brands Can Learn
The popular TV series Gossip Girl has debuted a Facebook game that smartly engages with its users. Offering cross-platform content, tying the game to real-time events and rewarding users for knowing the brand, the game is a great example of how companies can encourage users to engage with the brand, by knowing their audience and delivering exactly what that audience wants.
By Michelle Fares, Associate.
Gossip Girl is a television show that follows wealthy teenagers on the Upper East Side of New York City. When it premiered in 2007, the show was an instant hit and set trends for fashion, slang, and pop culture references in its targeted demographic of teenage and young adult women. However, four years in, Gossip Girl’s viewer base is waning. In an effort to promote its new season and take advantage of the tech-savvy behaviors of its fan base, the show launched the Gossip Girl: Social Climbing Facebook game
in January 2011.
In the game, users attend events such as parties, club openings, and school events to win points and gain levels. These levels and points unlock new locations, badges and special clothing purchases in the virtual store. Users are also assigned special missions to compete for more points, and have the opportunity to navigate through New York City by selecting certain courses of action. Some actions let users move through events more quickly, but behaving too scandalously can result in getting kicked out and losing points.Implications and Action Items
My own experience with the game proved that Gossip Girl uniquely understands its fans’ interests and behaviors. Since I frequently watch the show with my laptop in hand, creating a Facebook game encourages me to engage with the brand in a medium that I am already using. Offering special challenges that ask me to pull in my other Facebook friends encourages the creation of an online community. The game also ties its events to happenings on the show each week – when one character on the show started interning at a fashion magazine, I began seeing internship events pop up on Facebook. This made me feel even more immersed in the game. And by rewarding me for selecting courses of action or behaviors in the game that Gossip Girl characters would take on the show, the game is encouraging my own knowledge of and loyalty to the brand.
Gossip Girl’s approach has clearly made a positive impression on me and other fans. There are many takeaways for other brands looking to engage users with a Facebook game, including:
- Offer content in multiple media formats: Audiences that consume through multiple devices at once, such as laptops, TVs and cell phones, expect brands to be accessible across platforms. Create games that cross tactics.
- Create urgency: Constant changes to the point system and “Events” in Facebook games keeps consumers engaged, involved and coming back for more.
- Tie the game to real events: Connecting events in Facebook games to events in the real world will give users a sense of immediacy, make the game seem relevant to their lives and encourage them to play along.
- Encourage users to create a community: Create a game that requests users to pull in other users or friends, and design elements that makes them want to interact with others, such as team events.
- Reward users for knowing the brand: By propagating (hopefully imaginary) Gossip Girl behaviors, the game rewards users for knowing the brand. And any company that can influence customer behavior is in a very powerful position.