It’s official. Pokémon Go is taking over the world.Get in Loser - Catch Em All

Maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but not by much. Over the last eight days since Nintendo launched Pokémon Go in the U.S., the app has quickly surpassed the number of daily users on Twitter and engagement on Facebook, and has broken the record for the biggest U.S. mobile game ever in terms of daily active users. The app was initially launched in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, and just launched in Germany yesterday and the UK today. The company plans to continue its world domination roll out the app to additional countries in the near term.

How did Pokémon Go get so popular so quickly? The short answer: It hits all the sweet spots.

  • Users can participate from wherever they are, whether that’s on their commute to work or taking the dog out for a walk.
  • It creates the “surprise and delight” effect, because you never know which Pokémon you might find where.
  • It triggers nostalgia for all of us who grew up with Pokémon.
  • It’s accessible to all ages – whether they were familiar with Pokémon before the app or not.
  • It fosters competition and a sense of achievement for every Pokémon collected and battle won.
  • It is phenomenal fodder for memes of all kinds to fill your social media channels (Pokémon Go’s own Twitter feed is good proof).
  • And – coinciding with all of the above – it’s incredibly cool to see a whole virtual world layered within the real world.

Pokémon Go is an important trial for augmented reality (AR) – and just the beginning now that an AR game has been adopted by the masses.

The post-launch aftereffects have been both positive (in-person meet-ups, discovering new places in local communities, even catching a murder suspect) and negative (people walking into traffic and unsafe areas, predators using the game).

But one of the biggest impacts of the game? The health of its users. Fitbit - Catch Em All

Pokémon Go has broken through barriers to getting people moving in a way that most health apps haven’t been able to do. As Gizmodo humorously reports, Pokémon Go users are suffering from a pandemic of sore legs due to accidental exercise. The game is healthy for users in more ways than one:

  • You can’t just play the game from your couch. You have to leave your house and move to capture Pokémon and participate in the game. Your nearest Pokémon, “Gym” (location for battles in the app) or Pokéstop (where you can gather items used in the game) isn’t always that close – you have to walk, run or otherwise travel to that location.
  • In the game, you can hatch eggs that turn into new Pokémon, but they won’t hatch unless you actually walk. Trains and cars don’t count and won’t help you.
  • Since the launch of the game, there have been many reports on the benefits to mental health, particularly for individuals with depression and anxiety. The game makes going outside fun rather than scary, and encourages exercise and socializing, both of which have proven mental health benefits.

This is good for game participants – it is also good for health care brands that work to combat community health concerns, obesity and mental health issues.

So far, the opportunity for brands to leverage the Pokémon Go phenomenon has been relatively limited to social media postings, as there isn’t a space for brands in the app itself yet. That will change as the company has plans to incorporate sponsored locations.

In the meantime:

  • Find out if your current location is already tied to the game or near a game location (a Gym or Pokéstop). If so, you can still connect with people as they visit that location.
  • If your location is not part of the game yet, there is a solution to that too. By setting up Lure modules (purchased in the app) you can draw people to your location for 30 minutes. You’ll gain foot traffic and users will have the opportunity to collect rare Pokémon. This is a tool you can use now to draw users to your location or events that are open to the public, such as health fairs and other community engagement events.
  • Consider what stories you may have related to Pokémon Go that you can share. Have your employees started walking more and getting active because of the app? Have you heard anecdotes of patients with positive health impacts due to game play? Do you have a physician who could provide a unique perspective on the health conversation related to Pokémon Go? Consider how you can utilize all of these stories as content for your social media channels, blog posts and, in the case of experts, media interviews.

The instant popularity of Pokémon Go can provide a great opportunity to brands. Keep in mind that however you choose to leverage this new game, it should be done in a way that will feel authentic to you and adds value for your audiences.

Have you developed any interesting strategies around Pokémon Go? Share them in the comments!