Toys R US new Game “Towers” (Image: Toys R Us on Facebook)

Toys R Us has added a social media gaming twist to its online engagement strategy this week. It’s called Towers, a Facebook social game that allows fans to play, learn, and most importantly, earn discounts at Toys R Us locations.

Promoting the game on its Facebook page to its over 3.4 million fans, the retailer explains Towers: “Work your way up from Trainee to CEO, while building and managing your very own toy store. Plus, earn great discounts to use at Toys R Us stores nationwide as you progress through the game!”

The new game is another part of the toy seller’s efforts to increase its presence on the biggest social network and find new ways to engage with consumers who spend more and more of their time online.

They’re not the first brand to jump into social gaming and they shouldn’t be the last. A 2011 report from emarketer notes that a May ’11 survey of US internet users ages 18 to 44 found that half play social games every day.  Considering Facebook’s potential audience, that can’t be ignored.

Here are four benefits of adding games to your social media strategy:

Community building – Engage people where they already are, and Facebook is where many, many people are.  Adding a gaming aspect to your social media presence gives people a (hopefully) fun experience while also rewarding them with coupons, discounts, or whatever you wish to offer. Even the smallest of rewards, particularly ones earned through even the easiest of game challenges, can help build more brand loyalty and a strong online community.

Education – Learning is easier when it’s fun, right?  That was pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim’s thinking when they launched that industry’s first Facebook-based social game, Syrum. Noting that people are more inclined to learn when engaged with something fun, Boehringer writes that “Syrum has been specifically designed to demonstrate the complex processes around medicine research and development through gaming mechanics. It aims at promoting science and innovation to the digital community in a fun and engaging way.”

Social Responsibility – Domino’s, Mastercard, Pepsi, and other major brands have teamed up with GamesThatGive to create branded Facebook games that allow fans to play the games and, depending on how much they play and how well they do, they contribute money to the charity of the brand’s choice.  Players are incentivized to become a fan of your page and invite friends.  As an example, here’s Mastercard’s game page, launched in 2011, to help raise money for Junior Achievement.

It can be easy - You certainly don’t need to build a big, expensive custom application to add gaming to your social presences. Simple social applications, available through social marketing suites like (ahem) Salesforce Marketing Cloud, allow you to create gaming experiences for users without taking months to develop. Applications like puzzles, quizzes or polls, videos or even utilizing existing applications through an embed code allows you to easily add gaming aspects to your presences without building a bulky, likely short-lived gaming experience.

Spotted any other brand’s incorporating games into their social media strategy? Tell us about in the comments.


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