Marketing Like Bing: The Farmville Example

Bing Shows How to Inspire Consumer Engagement with a Brand

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There are many ways to market your business through Facebook. Some are obvious, and others not so much. One thing you can pretty much count on is that there are incredible masses of people on the social network that you can potentially reach, and in ways that will allow them not only to engage with your brand in a comfortable setting, but with other Facebook ecosystems they are already engaging with.

A perfect example of this was recently demonstrated by Microsoft in one of the company’s many marketing strategies for its "decision engine" Bing. I sat in on a Bing panel this week at SXSW, where some of Bing’s marketers talked about a variety of ways they have used social media to gain users. One of these ways was through none other than Farmville (if you’re a Facebook user, and don’t live under a rock, you’ve at least heard of it).

More people use Farmville than Twitter, according to Bing, and People are sharing all kinds of activities within Farmville itself. That’s why the company saw a great opportunity to experiment. What they did was offer a special offer inside of Farmville, that would give users free "farm cash" if they became a fan of Bing on Facebook, which would encourage continued user interaction with Bing. As a result:

- Over 72% of users who clicked on the engagement became fans
– 59,000 people published the story to their news feed
– Over 70,000 clicks were received on secondary feeds
– In 24hours, Bing had over 400,000 new fans to keep

Bing Says Farmville Bigger than Twitter

Microsoft said its goals for engagement and social media efforts have been to:

- Add or create relevant value (stuff that’s not even necessarily a Microsoft property)

– Add depth to Bing’s personality

– Lead someone to a relevant engagement with Bing or each other.

– Yield passionate or emotional response from people

– Be intimate and/or scalable (can we be both)?

Bing’s Farmville experiment achieved all of these. However, the point of this is not that you should go out and immediately start a campaign through Farmville (although maybe it’s worth looking into if you think it’s a fit). The point is that there are more ways to harness a massive social network user-base (Facebook recently surpassed Google as the most-visited site in the U.S. for the week), according to Experian Hitwise). That’s a pretty impressive feat. Also consider that consumers favor brands who are on Facebook and Twitter, according to a recent study.

Really, it’s not even about Facebook or Twitter. It’s about getting out there wherever people are, and this is where they happen to be at the moment. That may change by this time next year, or the year after, but the principle will not. We’re at a point in history where it’s never been so easy for consumers and brands to engage with one another. Perhaps even better for brands, is that it has never been easier to reach customers in places they choose to entertain themselves, and I don’t mean just get in their faces, but actually reach them and get that engagement from them.

Marketing Like Bing: The Farmville Example
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  • http://www.adelaidedance.com adelaide dancing

    “It’s about getting out there wherever people are, and this is where they happen to be at the moment.” – very true!

  • http://www.hangar17.com Open source development web agency Hangar 17

    Good successful story, Microsoft said its goals for engagement and social media efforts are fantastic. They knows very well about social media, they did and they got success.. This simple concept may use to many of webmasters to turn on social medias for their business.. :)

  • Sarah

    I’d like to know when that was done, I am a daily player of FarmVille and I never saw any Bing Farmcash offer nor did I note this offer from any of my friends or neighbours!?

  • http://cherylsgifts2go.com Cheryl

    I thought this was fantastic. As an addicted Farmville neighbor, I certainly noticed this right off. There are so many people who diligently work on their farm in Farmville, how could they not notice.

    This was a good idea – to play upon the playing of Farmville.

    PS. It is a remarkable game, fun, exciting, interactive and, loved by all who play it.

  • http://www.tailoredpcdocuments.biz Gail

    I play FarmVille off and on all day because I work at home and it’s a “break” for me. I have definitely clicked on a few of the ads that run on the right side of the screen in Facebook when you’re playing FarmVille. I can easily see why it would be a great marketing tool. I’ve noticed too that the ads they run are targeted at the individual Facebook user based upon the information you provided in your profile when you signed up. I enjoyed the article on this subject.

  • http://www.superfloorcoat.com Concrete Floor Coatings

    Great strategy guiding people to what they’re looking for. So its great way to get people to interact in different industries.

  • Gary wilson

    You know I never really thought about that. I play farmville everyday cause I work from home and have lot’s of people but yet I never thought about using farmville as a way to reach people or get them to my bussiness. Very good information. I like it. This could start somethingreally god if used right.


  • Martha Jones

    Excellent article because it explains the issue so much better, in a layman approach. I LOVE WPN. :)


  • http://www.khanapakana.com/ Indian Recipes

    Well said, I would gladly say that thanks to Facebook we were able to short list the software product we were about to purchase. We noticed horrible feedback on the company’s Facebook page.

  • http://free-internet-marketing.bennisspiderweb.ws/ Free Marketing Downloads

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Who ever thought that playing a game could bring such marketing results?

  • Guest

    I have never heard before.Thankyou for this information. It is perhaps like sim city

  • http://www.b-seenontop.com Donna

    Another excellent strategy. Yet I wonder how many adults have the time to tend to their “farms”. Does anyone know what the Farmville user population looks like?

    • Stacie

      I read an article on USAtoday not too long ago that said there were 72 million farmville players. They interviewed a few ppl from various walks of life like a farmer in southern illinois and a sex therapist in chicago.

    • http://www.dogfools.com M.A.

      I have around 100 neighbors in Farmville. They are men, women, all races, many nationalities, all ages. Don’t know about incomes, but many are unemployed, some disabled, some play from work or laptops. Some college students, but I think younger gamers like Zynga’s Mafia Wars game better.

  • http://beautifulminds.in Vishnu

    That was Novel as some one commented earlier, exactly reaching out to the place where most of the people are ! Social media is gaining its ground over search engines!

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  • Anubhav

    So Bing offered Farmville users free “farm cash” if they became a fan of Bing on Facebook and got fans. Cool but then what? How do they plan to engage with these fans?? How do they intend to add any value to Users who most likely is searching on Google in the next tab???

    • Sooky

      Are you playing dumb? It’s a simple concept, exposure. Ever driven by billboards? Well, imagine one with the immediate option of testing the product/service being advertised, well, as long as you clicked the link, But even then, just by being made aware of it, your chance of using it has just increased. There are some things that Bing is better at than Google (debatable), and some people may become aware of this through even their first trial usage (or heck, they might just even think it looks better o_O) and although they may not use it as their main search engine, they may still rely on it, you know, for say its video search, etc.

  • Stacie

    But did anyone actually get their farm cash after fanning or was it all a scam/experiment and no one but the company got what they wanted?

  • http://gomodesign.com Guest

    So, a HUGE muli-million dollar company has the funds to advertise within the game of another multi-million dollar company. And…what is so innovative about this? This is not a new tactic, by any stretch, and anyone who has not been living under a rock (as the reporter said) KNOWS the HUGE numbers Farmville is pulling (Zynga, too for that matter).

    BUT…who give a flying-whatever about numbers? Anyone in social media (or has been on the web for years) know that numbers mean absolutely nothing if the fans are not converted to users or clients.

    Except for bragging at industry cocktail parties, you can have millions of fans whose SOLE motivation was Farmville Cash. They are FANS OF FARMVILLE CASH NOT BING!!!!

    So, I don’t see this remotely as a success story. Unless Bing’s traffic improved significantly and stayed there.

    Why didn’t any report on the REAL numbers that count: new Bing users?

    • Guest

      My thoughts exactly!

  • http://www.webtalentseo.com Guest

    It is nice to see that this worked for Bing we have been questioning ourselves on whether or not to advise clients to spend money with them. I guess the proof is there.

  • http://www.nerdalert.biz philadelphia seo firm

    This is really very interesting, thanks for writing it. You should also stop by our web page. We’re a company that provides Seo services, Web Design, Custom made Application Development and IT ideas in Philadelphia.

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