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Manchester's annual horror festival Grimm Up North has developed an augmented reality game called Monster Hunt.
The game uses the image feed from your Android phone or iPhone camera. You can point the camera at any real world scene and when the game recognises a predetermined feature, it displays a monster superimposed over the camera image. Capture pictures of the monsters and win cinema tickets and other prizes. So far, so good.
In their press release about the game on HowDo the developer is quoted saying that "the game has been played by over 1,000 people since its launch at the end of last month, with photos of players and their quarry now appearing across Facebook, Twitter and Flicker[sic]."
A casual search on these sites disagrees with their quote:
Despite running for 12 days now, no end users have posted any pictures of monsters; there is no social media buzz, just a few people tweeting the link to the HowDo article.
In reality, the end user technology required isn't commonplace enough for this the game to spread virally. For instance, my colleague Keir has an iPhone, but because it's not the latest version, the game doesn't work. Monster Hunt works on most Android phones but Android ownership is still relatively low. My old Nokia Smartphone doesn't stand a chance with it.
This is where the problem lies. Companies will invest in products like this because they seem exciting and developers will get excited about making them as they are something out of the ordinary, but if end users do not get involved or worse, are unable to get involved, then where is value for the client? Social media marketing is not about immediate sales or direct return on investment, but in selling a product like this to a client, there must a certain expectation of end user involvement and use.
It is easy to see whether end users are involved with social media as the majority of the discusssion is out in the open and clients have every right to hold their marketers accountable for the social media work they produce. As a marketing firm using social media to promote your clients, managing a client's expectations from the outset is even more essential than it is for SEO.
I really believe in the marketing potential of social media and augmented reality and I want marketing campaigns like this to succeed but unfortunately, presupposing the intentions of an audience that you don't actually have is unhelpful. In the long term, it could even damage the potential uptake of forward-thinking marketing projects.