Zynga’s social strategy

Today’s reading and the Nike chapter for Friday show why we spend all the time establishing an understanding of the breadth, display, search, and communication functions last month. Zynga, a 2007 startup, focuses on social games, which provide entertainment value for players and social platforms that allow people to reconnect with friends.

Piskorski showed that Zynga’s social games had narrow breadth, little display functionality, and limited search advantage. As far as communication went, the games facilitated reconnection among players but provided very little in-game interaction.

So how could Zynga make money on that? We will discuss the first and second parts of Zynga’s social strategy, so make sure you’re familiar with them and their success from the reading. Even though Zynga had a lot of pure profit, it wasn’t enough to fund the advertising needed to recruit new players. They needed current customers to help with acquisition of new players, and they had limited success with this.

Piskorski forcefully underlines his main point of the chapter near the end: “Simply getting people involved in a seemingly social activity, such as gaming, or calling a game ‘social’ will not generate new interactions. To facilitate and encourage such interactions, social strategists have to think through explicit solutions to breadth, display, search, and communication functionalities” (p. 167).

This makes it sound like Zynga is a failure, but that’s far from true. You’ll need to know about their PR problems, their philanthropic arm (Zynga.org), and their IPO and what happened in the following months. We’ll then discuss whether their non-social social approach has gotten any better.

Assignment for Friday

Now that you have a company for your social media audit, I hope you’re already learning a little about them. Check out the news to see whether there’s something that your company is responding to or needs to be responding to in the next few days. If not, go with seasonal cues (the types of things your company talks about at this time of year). Pick either Facebook or Twitter and write a series of three posts appropriate for the medium. Work to speak in the chosen voice of your company (what they already do, not what you think they should do), and note the day/time that you would post each piece of content. Type the three posts in a single document, print it out on a single sheet of paper, and bring it to class on Friday.

Recent grad’s social media career

Jill Dougher, an ACU JMC alumna working at FleishmanHillard in Detroit, was one of the people behind the social media response when a Chevrolet dealer fumbled his presentation of a Colorado truck to the World Series MVP last week. Chevy’s quick response on Twitter was covered by Ad Age and other media like Sports Illustrated and Slate. Owning the #TechnologyAndStuff hashtag got a lot of free media for Chevrolet.


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