2 min Read
July 29, 2016

Think hard before you go to Pokémon GO

Big Duck

It’s 2016. Any nonprofit marketer or fundraiser reading this blog is well aware of what happens every time a new app, social network, video, or retired athlete in distress explodes on the internet.

Basically, everyone goes crazy.

Okay, so Pokémon GO might be one of those rare cases when a new viral phenomenon actually is worth your time–people are spending more time in the mobile game than any social networking app and it already has more daily users than Twitter. Plus, there is a convincing argument for testing new channels before they’re saturated.

But let’s not lose our heads here. Again, it’s 2016. It’s been awhile since nonprofits scrambled to make a mark in Myspace and someone figured out how to put blocky white text over a photo. We should know better.

New media isn’t new any more. Even talking about new media, a term Google defines as a “means of mass communication using digital technologies such as the Internet,” makes me feel like a bit of a grandpa. By now, Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and other….ahem…platforms for mass communication using digital technologies, have clearly established themselves as big winners in the attention economy.

With a limited PR or advertising budget, you would review the reach and demographic data that publications make readily available, not to mention the data you may have collected from past efforts, to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck. New media has been around for long enough that there is now plenty of solid data out there to help guide your strategy. You can find pretty much any data available for traditional media, plus things like average clickthrough rates and cost-per-click (CPC) vs. cost-per-impression (CPM).  So whether you’re working with a five-figure marketing budget or a two-person team, there’s no reason to let excitement about the latest trend distract you from making informed decisions based on real data and best practices.

Of course, more nonprofits are closer to the two-person team side of the spectrum, and as organizations add staff they often ratchet up responsibilities so that expanded teams are quickly as strapped as they were before new positions were added. Getting caught up in the excitement of shiny new platforms can easily derail these organizations, leading to fragmented and ad hoc marketing strategies that don’t make positive impressions or gather promising leads.

You shouldn’t ever adopt the position of never testing new marketing channels — and plenty of interesting nonprofit uses of Pokémon GO have been gathered, from quick newsjacking techniques to more robust campaigns. 

But the time has definitively come to approach digital marketing with the same level of rigor as you would with more traditional media. It takes time and resources to do anything right, so if your overloaded department is getting tempted, or pushed, to take advantage of a new big thing, remember that slow and steady (and deliberate) often does win the race.

Do you have stories of tough decisions for how to allocate your budget or time? Let us know how you made the call, and what you learned!