What’s Your Facebook Farmville Water? Why Farmville (LG>DP) is Changing Your Business Into Games with Rewards


Farmville and Cityville make tons of revenue for Zynga, and still many traditional marketers are asking how?  After all, I like many of you, don’t spend my time on Farmville, and get annoyed by the messages inviting me to play this, and many other games on Facebook

First watch this video (it’s long) and learn why Farmville keeps people…and remember the focus of this post…what’s your Farmville water? Listen to Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell share his experience, and you’ll really understand (okay it will take at least 10-30 minutes, but believe me, you won’t hear this from your advertising folks, and you won’t understand unless you get the gaming/Facebook effect he outlines:

Now I know many of you won’t watch this video, your loss, because in it are some of the key elements shared by someone who knows games. What I see as a marketer is an evolution from advertising based on storytelling and narrative – whether it’s you telling the story of your brand, or having folks share your brand – to an embedded, social experience.

Uh oh, that word social again, the one that means no money to most marketers. Yet the integration of social media and gaming mechanics is changing the way people view and interact with things online. Farmville is just one easy example, so let me outline the brilliance, and then share the lesson…

Farmville's water is one example of social media lead generation via virtual currency.

What's your Farmville water?

  1. One of the keys to growing your Farmville is water, you have to get water to grow your crops and you need to come back pretty much every day, or you lose. This is a never ending game of getting water, exchanging virtual currency for water and the various other things you need to keep your farm alive.
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  3. Now you get some virtual currency – points and rewards to my marketing friends – just for joining, and by doing things.  But at a certain point, to win the game, you want more currency.
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  5. LG>DP: LG means lead generation, and DP means direct payments. People can choose to buy more currency with cash, but as you see in this video, and in my experience, this is a small percentage of the audience choosing to do this.  Something about exchanging something real for something virtual just doesn’t make logical sense to most, and many of course just don’t want to spend the money.
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  7. LG=Lead Generation, which is what most people do to get more currency at Farmville and other games like this.  In the affiliate world, we call this the Reward Wall, where you redeem offers for credit cards, NetFlix subscriptions, pretty much the mainstream of lead generation is here. Heck, even American Express had its Centurion card featured at one point around the game. It’s a natural idea, fill in the form, spend “nothing”, and get your virtual currency.

This new form of lead generation, part of what I call turning Friends into Fans and Customers, is driven not by the desire for the actual product, but for the currency. Many businesses test this out to make sure their lead generation is driving sales, and just look at Zynga’s reported revenue – 1.8 billion gross, 630 million profits, and you get the picture.

I’m not encouraging you to go buy lead generation opportunities on Zynga, unless you have lots of money and smart testers of course. What you should look at is the impact this is having on general marketing, driven by rewards.

Give your customers a reward, one that incites them to invite and collaborate with others to increase their rewards. Do something as simple as leaderboards, who’s the top one, and spur on the competition for your reward. And try not to make the game have an ending, create something that is never ending.

Can advertising and marketing become a game?  It already is, as social media and gaming mechanics impact everything we do…I’m sure many of the experts in this field find this a simplistic solution, yet when I went to AdTech in March 2011, you’d think everyone was waiting for something in social media to prove itself.

No, you can’t put your pop up ad or lead gen form on Facebook and succeed;  yes, you can add a first, no sales contact step into your path, that engages them not by just the reward, but by the competition and gaming to win that reward, now and if you’re smart, in the future.

For discussion, what’s your Farmville water, what makes people come back, share it with others, meet and greet and make friendships around what you offer, and drive real ROI?