Tag Archives: Facebook Fan Page

Quick Hits: Playdom Launches Two Titles; Mafia Woes; “Game Friends” Gains Support

After being fairly quiet since early August’s launch of (Lil) Farm Life, Playdom launched two games in the last two weeks: TikiFarm (a South Pacific themed farm sim) and Wild Ones (an artillery/strategy game with pets – still in alpha).

wild-ones-logoCrowdStar and Zynga have been greatly accelerating the deployment of games and it’s possible that Playdom’s recent funding and new CFO have positioned it to focus on a similar strategy.

Wild Ones offers similar Worms-Style artillery and strategy like Playfish’s Crazy Planets, with the caveat that it’s a true multiplayer game, linking you with players who aren’t necessarily your friends. Again, it’s still very rough and a lot of iterations are likely as the game is optimized, but It will be interesting to see if they can solve the difficulties of scaling a synchronous game on Facebook, as to date only Zynga Poker seems to have been able to do so. In similar games, churn has dogged Playfish’s Crazy Planets (it has had difficulty maintaining a Sticky Factor above 10%) and German developer Plinga has recently launched Turtle Squad.

Mafia Wars Still Suffering From Technical Issues

The scheduled maintenance on Wednesday the 16th doesn’t seem to have fixed all the problems that started last week for Mafia Wars users since the new roll out of i-frame technology and anti-hacking measures. One industry person noted that trying to solve issues with “tricky JavaScript tricks is a great way to create browser-specific hell.”


While some have noted a user boycott that resulted from the problems, you can’t escape the fact that if a game doesn’t work, people don’t return. Whatever they’ve done, I had no problems after the initial roll out, but I personally get stuck in unresolved loops and can’t play at all since the maintenance on the 16th. Zynga is scheduling another maintenance period for today.

Game Friends Idea Gains User Support

In less than a week, over 110,000 Facebook Users have joined a petition to better filter their Game Friends vs. their real-life friends. The Facebook group was created by Uwe Philip Kirch and inspired by our proposal that Facebook create a Game Friends capability, which would allow you to expand your circle to people who are interested in a game, but not necessarily someone you would want to share your photos and personal status updates with.

Call to Bookmark, Become a Fan Intensifies for Game Apps

The push by marketers to be “bookmarked” has been going on since the Favorites tab first showed up in web browsers. A bookmark on Facebook is the Holy Grail for an app developer: sitting in the footer of every Facebook page is the only way to be consistently “above the fold” and in the view of a user. However, more social games are also encouraging users to become fans of an app, too. More on that below.

Recent changes and trends are making these channels more meaningful to developers:

  • The Facebook homepage newsfeed has defaulted from a real-timefeed (where users only typically see it if they get online within four to six hours after the item was posted) to an algorithmic feed that users may never see,
  • Notifications (which at least are continuously highlighted till you click on them) are going away in the very near future, and
  • A recent study of US women by Q Interactive showed that 85 percent of them use five or fewer games/apps regularly (you can make your own inferences that there are only six bookmark spots in the Facebook footer).

It would be interesting to understand the correlation between being bookmarked and visit frequency (which I think itself is highly correlated to propensity to pay). Lacking that data, we CAN take a look at how well developers are getting users to become a fan of their application. Some of the bigger developers have several games at a low 5% Fans/MAU rate, but there are some notable exceptions (like Pet Society) that hit 15%. See the full analysis in the full post on InsideSocialGames.com.

Between the Tweets: Analyzing How Whole Foods Got to 1 Million Followers

Yesterday I noted that Whole Foods was one of only seven brands in the Top 100 Twitter accounts by follower and the first to move to over 1 million followers. After analyzing over 500 tweets by Whole Foods over the last month, it’s clear the company’s unique culture (devout advocates and purveyors of organic and natural foods) is defining its success on Twitter, similar to what we saw when we broke down Zappos Tweets.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The majority of those 525 tweets (91%) over the last month are replies back to users across a multitude of questions; the Whole Foods team averages just under 14 public responses a day
  • When Whole Foods tweets on its own (averaging 1.3 per day), the majority of those tweets are very culture-specific, lending credence to their cause and authenticity:
    • Culture/Insider: 29% – a wide variety of organic-centric causes (e.g. its Whole Planet Foundation, the USDA National Organics Program, and Non-Genetically modified project) to “Insider” bits like who they buy salmon in Alaska and new store openings (plus the ability to suggest locations for new stores).
    • Promotions: 26% – other than a giveaway around their 1 millionth follower, their promos are also culturally relevant: pitching free organic yogurt and a “wholefoods5” contest “Tell us your food philosophy in 5 words for a chance to win a million grains of quinoa (oh, and a $50 gift card).”
    • Organic Recipes from their blog: 18% – everything from Watermelon Lemonade to Quinoa.
    • Cross Promotion of Other Ways to Connect: 11% – in addition to the blog posts mentioned above, Whole Food promotes its iphone application as well as a bevy of other more subject specific Twitter accounts (more on that below).
    • Other Subjects: 15% – these tweets covered everything from random questions to users (What are you having for lunch? What are you cooking for the 4th) to some non-food product plugs which were eco-friendly products.

Some additional tidbits about the how Whole Foods is managing the tweeting around its core brand:

  • Whole Foods generally doesn’t reply or post on weekends.
  • They have multiple people managing the core Whole Foods account and leveraging CoTweet to do so.
  • Whole Foods has worked with Twitter to set up their account to allow direct tweets without the need for Whole Foods to follow the end user, allowing for more confidential customer support with less hassle.

Whole Foods Growth to 1 Million Followers

Was it some promotion that got Whole Foods to 1 million followers? From the chart below, you can see that the growth has been pretty steady, with an inflection point around June 18th. Looking through the tweets during that time, they did offer an atypical (for them) Dave Matthews Band promotion. But beyond that, there really are no huge promotions running to push up the numbers. Indeed, the only promotion around their 1 millionth follower was launched July 9th (on Twitter, their blog and to their 98,000 fans on Facebook) and they hit the level Sunday July 12th but from the chart you can see no real bump in the new follower rate as a result.

To me the main reason for the continual growth of Whole Foods is due to it being a leader in a specific niche — organic foods — and its continual response to customers and on-topic usage of Twitter to support it’s leadership in that niche.

Getting Local: Twitter as the New-Age Phone Directory?

One of the more difficult issues for brand marketers with multiple retail outlets is how to effectively manage customer communications beyond the corporate office and down into the local markets. Brands like Best Buy are starting to tinker, but Whole Foods looks like they have made a solid commitment and have put together an impressive list of contacts. Whole Food’s list of Twitter accounts by department, region and store is the modern-day equivalent to the corporate phone list, allowing a consumer to contact and connect with the brand both on the corporate level, but at the local level as well. Some highlights:

  • With 38,800 followers collectively, the 3 subject matter accounts (wine, cheese and recipes), 8 regions and 111 stores would rank #859 in the top 1,000 by followers, just ahead of Matt Giraud of American Idol fame.
  • Just under 40% of the 280 stores have a specific twitter account (many in the last two months), and several others in Texas and New York are under regional accounts. Houston and New York City are the two leading regions with 2,528 followers of both accounts.
  • The top stores with the most followers (between 650 to 900) include Columbus, OH (@WFM_Columbus), Nashville, TN (@WFM_Nashville), Birmingham, AL (@WholeFoodsBham) and Boston, MA (@WFM_Symphony). Naming conventions are fairly haphazard, so you can tell that a lot of the impetus behind this has come organically (no pun intended) from the stores themselves.
  • Tweets by store really are a reflection of the local management, highlighting the ability to push local sales, or highlight in-store tours and events. Just as with any marketing program, different stores are actively tweeting, others only periodically.
  • Besides the 111 stores with Twitter accounts, there are 98 stores with their own Facebook Fan Pages.
  • For managing these tweets, there doesn’t appear to be any specific corporate-driven tools, as several are using the web, blackberry and other tools.

Whole Foods appears to have taken a bold step and is leveraging its employees and distinct personalities of its stores in each region and city to provide more outreach around the brand than any centralized PR or marketing function could possibly provide. It will take time to optimize and share best practices for engaging and reaching out to customers across the network of stores, but it sets a helpful path for other organizations to follow.

Questions for Discussion

Who else is setting up similar structures (Best Buy comes to mind)? What other companies have the specific culture around a niche that would make this successful? How do the traditional grocery store chains compete? How could you scale this for local franchises? Could McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts make use of this strategy or is there a limit to the number of stores that can really actively participate and provide truly “valuable” information to consumers? The numbers are still pretty small on a store by store level (and the program is really still very new) – how can we really understand the ROI at the local level?