Step Up Your Game: Secret to Facebook Page Engagement

[The following is a guest post from social media consultant Blake Jamieson. ]

When I was hired by PoolSupplyWorld to manage their social media, the e-commerce company had 37 fans on Facebook. That was February 7, 2012. Less than one year later, the PoolSupplyWorld Facebook page has over 75,000 fans, thousands of repeat customers, and even won an award for Top 10 SMB Facebook Pages for 2012.

As social media becomes increasingly important as a marketing channel, I am always searching for ways to increase fan and customer engagement. Recently, PoolSupplyWorld added social gaming to its social media arsenal. This post details the strategy behind our Facebook game, how we leverage open graph to drive virality, and a review of the metrics thus far.

PoolSupplyWorld Poolaga

The Game

The co-manager of the page, Christian Carriger, built Poolaga using the Construct2 engine by Scirra. Constuct2 was great because it allowed us to create a custom-looking game without extensive coding.

Poolaga, named as a tribute to the arcade classic Galaga, is a simple yet addictive game. Take control of a chlorine bucket and defend your pool from attacking algae!

Poolaga Gameplay SS You can use the arrow keys or W-A-S-D to maneuver your bucket around the pool, and your mouse pointer to aim and shoot chlorine tabs at the attackers. If you get surrounded by too many baddies, you can right-click to ‘shock’ the pool, killing everything in your immediate area.

Using chlorine tabs to fend off algae, or shocking your pool when you have an algae bloom are common occurrences for pool owners. We wanted to turn this otherwise mundane task into an exciting game that people want to play.

To increase the chance of our game spreading virally, we built in a scorebord that communicated with open graph actions. When I finish playing a game, Poolaga will generate a Facebook post with my score (and offer to post it to my timeline). I can easily add text bragging about my achievements in the game.

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 12.09.32 PM In addition to the Timeline post, Poolaga also creates a story in the ‘Recent Activity’ section of my Facebook profile. This story will actually pull and include the names of my Facebook friends whose high score I just beat.

Loomer Post (Profile Story)

The Numbers

Although the stats are not staggering (yet), there are some interesting numbers. It is also worth noting that since the pool industry is seasonal, winter months are typically the lowest engagement for us.

In November, we tested the game internally until we were sure it was working properly. We added the game to our Facebook page, although at first it was not placed in the upper row. We told some friends and family about the game, and people slowly began to play it.

Poolaga Users Nov-Dec

On December 6th, we moved the tab icon to the upper row, and made a post about the game to our Facebook timeline. As you can see, the number of users jumped dramatically on that day.

Poolaga Users Dec-Jan

Throughout the entire month of December, we did not promote the game. We wanted to see what kind of organic growth the game received. On January 10, our MAU peaked at 110 users. We then saw a decline in MAU, as the users added on December 6 began to drop off. Keep in mind a ‘month’ for Facebook insights is 28 days long.

Since we clearly saw a boost in users when we posted about the game (24 daily users on Dec 6), we plan to post about the game once per week on our Facebook page. It will be interesting to watch user retention, and find out which PoolSupplyWorld fan is the Poolaga champion!

Your Turn

Have you seen an example of a brand using games to increase engagement? Click HERE to play Poolaga and let me know what you think!

Follow Blake Here…

Blake on Facebook
Blake on Twitter
Blake on Pinterest
Blake on YouTube

  • Scott Ayres

    I’ve seen and been approached by different app providers about doing “gamification” but often wondered if it resulted in any increases in fans and etc. The one thing I’d love to know Blake is did this massive increase in fans relate to increase in sales?

    • Blake Jamieson

      Great question Scott! In short, yes – our increase in fans has a direct correlation to increased revenue from Facebook!

      • Scott Ayres

        Yeah that would be an interesting follow up post to read. Sometimes I think many brands using Facebook get caught up in busy work and noise, and while that might produce more fans, it doesn’t always increase revenue.

        • Blake Jamieson

          For sure! You will notice that our post content rarely ever ‘sells’ anything. We use engaging visual content to keep our EdgeRank as high as possible…so that when we DO decide to promote a product, sale, etc, we get the maximum number of eyeballs on it!

          • Scott Ayres

            Totally agree. My policy/theory has always been to share and educate in 9 out of 10 posts. And maybe “market” in 1 out of 10. You gotta earn the right to sell people stuff and build trust.

          • Blake Jamieson

            Spot on!

  • Roy Steves

    It’ll be especially interesting to see, as Blake mentioned, how the game does in spring and summer, given the extreme seasonality. Being primarily an online brand, things like this make PSW a little more likely to be remembered, as offline competitors rely on people seeing their storefronts on the way to work, etc.

    • Blake Jamieson

      Yes sir, it’s going to be a GREAT year!

  • Trevor

    Sure people interacting with the game generates newsfeed stories, but when people see that people they know are playing a game on facebook what is going to motivate them to consider making a purchase from the company?

    When I see people I know on facebook playing games it doesn’t tell me that they recommend the business whose game they’re playing, it tells me that they’re messing around on facebook.

    • Blake Jamieson

      That is a good point Trevor, but social media has to be treated different than traditional media. Rather than going for the hard sell, or chasing product endorsements, our strategy is much more passive. We rely on engaging content to help spread our page, and our prices and customer service to drive our sales!

  • Emiah Gardner

    great post. How quickly did fans grow? Was the 75k increase a direct result of the game or were you doing other efforts to increase your facebook fans?

    • Blake Jamieson

      I started in February, and the fan growth really started to kick in around April when pool season got into full swing!

      The 75K growth was not because of the game. The game is a relatively new addition. Although I would love to see the game drive new likes, I am more focused on using it to engage the fans we already have!

      • Sarah

        What did drive most of your growth? was is simply because pool season came around or were you using advertisements?

        • Blake Jamieson

          Hey Sarah!! Sorry I only noticed this comment now..I know it’s been forever. The growth was due to a combination of pool season and ads. I actually wrote an entire blog post about the growth of the page here:

  • Christian Carriger

    Thanks for the mention Blake! I had a really fun time building Poolaga. As someone who has been playing video games for 20+ years I thought it would be cool to try and make one myself. To give you an idea of how awesome the Construct 2 GUI is I had no idea how to make a game and am not a programmer, but I was able to teach myself how to use it and build a game in just a few days and then a month of in house testing and a few refinements made the game what it is today!

    • Blake Jamieson

      Love it Christian! You seriously CRUSHED it with this one!

  • Katherine @ Signal

    Playing games on Facebook reeks of Jean Teasdale and Players Plus cards. I agree with Trevor that game play and actual sales are two different things. Rather than build games for games’ sake, we should be thinking about creating meaningful connections between our brands and people who actually want to interact with the brand. I’m not against “gamifying” your Facebook page, but the game should be related to the brand. Classic example of a strategic — and awesome — gamifciation campaign: The contest, to be admitted into Grey Poupon’s “society,” related directly to the brand strategy and helped them to acquire fans in a direct way.

    It would be great to see a suggestion on third party software that would make building an app similar to the Grey Poupon contest easy for small businesses on Facebook.

    • Blake Jamieson

      I agree with you 100% Katherine (and Trevor). Game play and sales are not always correlated. And yes, brands should work to create a game that has context for their brand…which is exactly the motive behind ours.

      I am not exactly clear on which ‘game’ you reference for Grey Poupon. When I went to their page, the ‘Application’ was simple a video where cartoon commentators talked about my Facebook statistics. Also, for a page of their size, the engagement is actually pretty low.

      As far as third party software, I really like Construct2…but it just depends on the type of game you are trying to make.

  • Polish translator Warsaw

    I hate playing games on FB. Maybe because it’s not productive, maybe because they are very often intrusive. anyway, I’m intrigued by your “experiment” with the efect of advertising the game on FB. If you share your findings equally honestly it will be interesting data.

  • Pingback: Marketing | london business websites, top london businesses, london business directory()

  • Pingback: Facebook Marketing Metrics that Matter with Blake Jamieson [Podcast] -