Think You Know Gamers? Think Again, Says Social Intelligence

When you picture a video gamer or a science-fiction lover, odds are you’re seeing the stereotypical image of a World of Warcraft junkie or a Trekkie.

When you picture a video gamer or a science-fiction lover, odds are you’re seeing the stereotypical image of a World of Warcraft junkie or a Trekkie. However, according to social media intelligence, the typical gamer persona is a thing of the past.

You’ve probably noticed it happening all around you. More and more often, we’re seeing what used to be generally accepted as a hobby for children or game lovers become a widespread phenomenon across all ages and demographics (we’re looking at you, Pokemon Go). The sci-fi and gaming industries are exploding in popularity and experiencing an evolution of appeal—and marketers need to keep up if they want to create the next Pokemon-level craze.

Broader audiences call for broader strategies

It’s no surprise that opening-night tickets to sci-fi films like Star Wars, The Avengers and The Hunger Games often sell out weeks in advance, but what is surprising is who’s buying them.

Social media intelligence suggests that sci-fi films are expanding their appeal from a niche audience to a younger millennial audience. By breaking down the data, it’s clear that those who are talking about sci-fi topics on social media are displaying a larger range of interests than ever before.

In 2010 and 2011, sci-fi lovers on social media showed a strong interest in comics, podcasts, Star Trek, Alan Moore and filmmakers. None of this is particularly surprising, reinforcing the fact that the genre reached a targeted and specific audience during those years.

However, from 2013 through 2015, there was a significant shift in the interests of those discussing sci-fi toward topics like high school and Snapchat. This indicates that the sci-fi world began to appeal to a younger, more mainstream audience with a focus on pop-culture themes.

What does this mean for marketing and advertising professionals in the media and entertainment space? These insights provide crucial information for targeting, segmenting and pursuing sci-fi fans. If you create a campaign that’s specifically geared toward hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts, it will miss an entire segment of fans.

Taking a deep dive into the data pulled from social conversation may provide surprising insights that inspire revamped marketing strategies. Advertisers need to listen to what their consumers are saying on social media, why they’re saying it and what else they’re talking about in order to refine their strategies and resonate with the right audience.

Stay ahead of changing trends within genres

Apart from the noticeable shift in audiences, social media data also suggests changes in the popularity of games themselves. Gaming can be broken down into several subgenres, two of which include MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and first-person shooter games, and each genre is experiencing its own evolution.

MOBA games, which are praised for their deep complexity and strategy, are becoming increasingly popular, as shown by the volume of discussion on social media. First-person shooter games, on the other hand, are beginning to taper off in conversations.

Based on social media intelligence, video game studios and marketers can track a certain subgenre’s popularity in real time and use those insights to inform campaign strategies, product positioning, ad buying and overall messaging. Likewise, marketers in other industries that want to stay ahead of the trends need to keep tabs on what consumers are saying on the most authentic and unedited feedback platform: social media.

Regardless of which genres are trending, advertisers need to pay attention to the buyer personas associated with each one. Although 45 percent of people talking about MOBA games on social media have an interest in gaming, pop culture and sports are prominent topics, as well, proving that fans of the genre make up a general, rather than targeted, audience.

Now, take mobile gaming audiences, for example. Unlike with MOBA audiences, “core gamer” topics do not dominate social media conversations. Mobile gamers’ greater interest in sports and general technology suggests a wholly different approach to targeting when it comes to winning over customers.

Mobile gaming marketers may want to consider featuring a top athlete in promotional efforts or partnering with the next big thing in tech. Gaming subgenres and their audiences are constantly changing, but social media insights allow marketers to keep a constant view into these evolving trends.

All in all, marketers and advertisers need to cater to the fact that gamers can no longer be lumped into any specific persona. The barriers of the gaming “monoculture” are slowly breaking, and the only way to keep up with the times is to track how target consumers are talking about products, trends and the industry as a whole on social media.

Whether it be for sci-fi, gaming or beyond, diving into social intelligence offers an unobstructed view into the mind of a consumer, providing valuable insight into how specific audiences should be targeted. With this level of visibility, campaigns, promotions and messaging can truly resonate with consumers and provide impactful results for brands across industries.

John Donnelly III is senior vice president of global sales and marketing at social data provider Crimson Hexagon.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.