HootSuite Launches “Happy Owls” And It’s A… Social Game?

Is this a joke? Well, it's quite possibly the funniest game launch ever. Announcing it through splash screens in the application and "mis-sent" emails to its board and investors, HootSuite generated plenty of interest in its new viral game. Is this really a strategic shift for the company? Probably not. But, it is a clever way to generate some action in an increasingly competitive space.

Is this a joke? Well, it’s quite possibly the funniest game launch ever. Announcing it through splash screens in the application and “mis-sent” emails to its board and investors, HootSuite generated plenty of interest in its new viral game. Is this really a strategic shift for the company? Probably not. But, it is a clever way to generate some action in an increasingly competitive space.

Doubtless, you’ve seen the splash screen for the “Happy Owls” game today, if you’re a HootSuite user. I saw it (and it struck me as odd) this morning. HootSuite, which I happen to feel is the best social media management tool I’ve ever seen (or at least among the best), is eager to take advantage of what it sees as the driver behind “the massive growth of Zynga and the likes,” according to a message that was supposedly meant for a highly specific audience:

Board, Investors and Friends,

Things have been going really well at HootSuite for the last while, but after watching the massive growth of Zynga and the likes, I’ve been thinking a lot about if we are in the right business? Building on top of third party platforms can be challenging, and the team and I want a change. I know that this will come as a surprise, but as of today we’re pivoting business models with the launch of Happy Owls (screenshot and link to private beta below). This game is really addictive and I think we stand a great shot of making an even bigger splash in a really fun market.

As always I appreciate your support, and please keep confidential until our public announcement on Monday.

To make the entire effort more realistic, the “leak,” which hit different people throughout the day, was followed up with a second message (which I haven’t received yet), claiming:

The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore.

Thanks for using HootSuite, and have a great day!

On its blog, the company talks about the release of “Happy Owls,” its first social game, which you can experiment with here. And, HootSuite does give the game space on its blog.

Why is this so cool? Instead of just being another online prank for the first day of the second quarter, it hits the mark in driving action on a larger business objective. Competition is stiff for HootSuite, and over the past year, Twitter has asserted itself more in the corner of the market once left to the “ecosystem.” You have to do anything to get an edge in this space, and HootSuite sure scored one today!

And, it also rocks. When I tweet this headline, I’ll do it through HootSuite.