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Playing the Game: How Social Media Moved the Needle for 'Spy Hunter' Campaign

Imagine getting a call from Warner Bros. to spearhead the
social media campaign behind one of the most iconic franchises in gaming
history, and having just a few months to successfully ramp up a 10,000+
Facebook and Twitter community before the product hit the shelves on Oct. 9.

That was the challenge for our Calabasas, Calif.-based full-service
agency Mile 9, which was commissioned by Warner Bros. Games to helm the
development and management of an integrated social media campaign for the
latest installment of Spy Hunter, the
legendary arcade classic reborn for the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS
gaming systems. It was literally a sprint from the moment go.

Since the official Facebook page was going to be the primary
online brand destination for Spy Hunter,
getting it right was vital. And gaining a quality audience of followers on
Twitter and driving video views on YouTube were also going to be mission
critical to our success.

In order to thrive, we had to focus on what mattered to our
audience of gamers, and we made the conscious decision to forgo other ancillary
opportunities like Pinterest that wouldn't have moved the needle for them.

How impressive were the results? Over the course of three
months, Mile 9:

  • Grew the Spy Hunter
    social community audience from scratch to over 11,800 fans on Facebook, 700 followers
    on Twitter and a commanding 442,000 total video views on the game's official
    YouTube channel.
  • More importantly, the social media campaign drove upwards of 60 million
    impressions during the game's crucial launch month, propelling it into the top
    10 list of most popular games on many gaming sites.

None of this would have been possible without Mile 9's core
social media strategies.

Mapped Out a Content Strategy
and Execution Calendar

With a compressed timeframe to work within, developing a
weekly content strategy and execution calendar enabled Mile 9's social media team
to efficiently plan out key asset postings, while giving them the flexibility
to integrate ad-hoc content posts on the fly.

In the calendar, the team mapped out a weekly evolution of
content, including game features to highlight, marketing assets (e.g.
promotional trailers, screenshots, etc.) to promote and community engagement
activities along with their corresponding intended consumer action.

We really started with keeping our hoped-for end
result -- consumer action -- in mind, and working backwards. Whether it was eliciting
community feedback, user participation or driving video views or pre-orders for
the game, we outlined both overarching objectives and weekly focus objectives
and built our content around netting those ends.

Grew Community Size and
Reach via Integrated Support

To support and grow the Spy
social community, Warner Bros. and Mile 9 employed a mix of paid,
organic and viral reach initiatives.

In a sense, what was easy for us was that our social media
pages represented the brand's online presence, so we marketed them as such,
with a three-prong approach of social networking site (SNS), search engine
marketing (SEM) and online banner ads, while selectively using promoted posts
to amplify stories that we felt were most relevant to our audience.

Additional organic and viral growth came through
encouraging users to share their Spy
community participation with others, connecting with gaming and
broad-reaching influencers via Twitter and cross-promoting social media pages
through marketing components such as tagging on trailers and print ads.

A great example of viral reach initiatives used by the team
was cross-promoting the game via Twitter with local radio personalities such as
Manny Streetz, a key fixture of the Ryan Seacrest morning show on KIIS-FM in
Los Angeles.

While KIIS-FM and other stations were featuring 'call in to
win game' giveaways, Mile 9 connected with on-air personalities via Twitter,
helping to drive the stations' fast-growing Spy
contest audiences. In response, the on-air personalities in turn
promoted the Spy Hunter social media
pages, extending the brand's reach to tens of thousands of new Twitter

Doing Some Active

No social media campaign lives in a vacuum, but rather in
the ecosystem of your community. This is especially true when you have an
enthusiast base of consumers -- and for us, active listening and having a
proactive response strategy was one of the keys to our success on Spy Hunter.

As the "voice" of the Spy
brand online, the team made it a top priority to respond quickly to
questions, comments or feedback, and often refined content postings or timing
based on the qualitative feedback they were "hearing" from the community.

Growing a community base will only take you so far; it's
what you do with it once it's there that really matters. We treated everyone
who came into our community as one of our own, as an opportunity to get to know
them, connect with them and ultimately give them reasons to become advocates
for our brand. 

It's no secret that developing and managing a successful
social media campaign requires not only a daily commitment to developing and
nurturing an engaging two-way conversation with your audience, but also an
integrated strategy to deliver on the objectives of your business and brand.

And, while every campaign has its own unique
character, personality and style, strategies such as content release calendar,
integrated support and active listening can be keys to success in developing or
enhancing virtually any social media campaign. It sure worked well for us on Spy Hunter.