Finding the Sweet Spot to Get Gaming Influencer Marketing Right
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The gaming world thrives. All ages and backgrounds of gamers have expressed their willingness to invest in gaming. They also spend a lot of time as both consumers and active participants. In 2021 alone, gaming enthusiasts clocked more than 100 billion hours watching YouTube gaming.
Did you catch that? I didn’t say “playing.” They’re watching others stream their gaming exploits — talk about a captive audience.
With this growing crowd of gaming enthusiasts in mind, there’s a golden opportunity for brands to jump in with influencer marketing partnerships. There are two ways to do it. Here are some ways brands can make it work and build loyal customer relationships with influencer partnerships in gaming.
1. Get clear on your goals/intentions
If you are an advertiser looking at the gaming market, you should first define your reasons for entering. Ask yourself:
Which audiences am I trying to reach?
What’s my end goal? What’s my end goal?
What action do I want them to take?
When you start from the right place strategically, you’re less likely to be tempted into flashy partnerships that may not best serve your target audiences. You’re also more likely to find influencers who make sense and partners that make sense.
2. Dispel myths about the gaming community
The worst thing you can do when entering any market is to rely on stereotypes and generalizations to develop your marketing strategy.
The gaming market is made up of people from all walks of life, including gender, age, geographic location and economic status. For example, more gamers fall into the 35-to-44 age bracket than the under-18 bracket. And women currently make up almost half of all gamers (45%), even though most people would likely stereotype the average gamer as male.
Your gaming audience is nuanced, and so should your influencer strategy. For example, just because a significant percentage of women are gaming, that doesn’t mean you have to target female gaming ads to the latest Call of Duty game.
Research shows that different demographics can be drawn to certain gaming styles. Women are more likely to play puzzle or simulation/strategy games, while men are more likely to play sports and tactical shooter games.
Once you know who is playing where, you can identify their value as potential marketing targets, and then find influencers that appeal to each niche.
3. Create the right types of collaborations
To build the right influencer marketing campaign, find the partnership options that are the best fit with your target audience. Examples include:
Team sponsorship: Get specific targeted messaging out to your team’s avid fans. Although you may reach a smaller audience, your message will be more in line with their aspirational purchasing goals.
Tournament sponsorship: Tournament sponsorships get you in front of many eyes but can also be very expensive. Big-name brands like Doritos have jumped in and sponsored industry-leading tournaments, gaining hours of captive eyes and ears soaking in their messaging.
In-game collaboration: Creating partnerships with game developers can provide value and attract attention from players. For example, Coca-Cola recently released its new “Pixel” flavor as part of a Fortnite collaboration.
Gaming influencer partnership: Work with a streamer or gaming influencer to promote your products and services. This could mean using your products, or making mentions during their streams. This allows you to build a mutually beneficial partnership and also feels genuine to their audience.
Cross-platform collaboration: The gamer promotes your partnership across their other social media platforms as well as on the gaming site — these partnerships can be valuable if you work with a gamer who is well-established on different platforms and still growing their influencer presence on social media (especially since the majority of gaming influencers are still only doing a few campaigns a year).
4. Add value and think long-term
Another similarity between the “real” and gaming worlds is that it’s rare for people to be able just to walk in and start aggressively selling their products and expect the crowds of people to flock to them.
The same applies to the gaming community. Think about how your brand can add value and contribute to the influencer activation. Brands that look for synergies and think about contributing and giving are more positive.
You’ll notice their promotions are designed to create connections and mutually beneficial partnerships — think of Ryan’s World-based games like Super Spy Ryan, developed for kids and built entirely around an influencer and brand partnership. Or Gordon Hayward spurring massive online attention for a viral promo claiming he could “crush” Lebron … to clarify, in the game League of Legends, not necessarily on the court.
Both cases involve mega-influencers. However, the concept is the exact same regardless of whether you’re working alongside a celebrity or a microinfluencer. The brands involved took time to understand their audience and cleverly designed partnerships that delighted their existing fans, attracted a new audience and created real value.
Money that is invested in thoughtful partnerships will yield greater returns than money that is just used to get a shout-out or put a logo somewhere.
Gaming isn’t going anywhere. Its audience is growing every minute. Gaming platforms are even successfully pulling the attention from other streaming and entertainment services. For example, in a recent survey our firm conducted, 68% of gamers claim they use Twitch as their preferred method of streaming live sports, so they can interact with fellow watchers simultaneously.
To make gaming a viable marketing channel, brands need to have a dual approach to gaming influencer investments. They must develop them with a long-term vision and be open to trying new things. As they learn more about the platforms, the influencers and their target audiences, brands will be more likely to find the right partners and create a formula for lasting success.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.