Trainer Tips not invited to Pokemon Go Event - Drama ensues

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Pokemon Go Travel Event does not invite biggest Pokemon Go Youtuber

This is how things start. Niantic announces a Pokemon Go Travel and Global Catch event.  The event was launched by featuring Pokemon Go Youtubers from around the world.  The event has so far been very popular with Niantic announcing that trainers have now caught over 500 million pokemon in the events first 2 days.  The goal is for trainers throughout the world to catch over 3 billion Pokemon.

But that is not the big news here.  

People who know anything about the Pokemon Go community may realize one thing in the video though.  Nick from the channel Trainer Tips argueabley the most recognizable Pokemon Go Youtuber is not included in the video.  Things seemed to be ok with Nick at the beginning.

The big news is that Niantic snubbed TRAINER TIPS.

Then fans really started to take notice that Nick was not included and began to ask questions, and some immediatly became angry.  Nick had been Youtubing about the game since prior to its launch and was one of the key people to help get information out about the game.  He did this like all of the early Youtubers without any special information from the company.   The company did eventually reach out and begin using the Youtubers but not until the game had been out for about a year at the Pokemon Go Fest.

The video from Niantic did include Mystic7 and Reversal who along with Nick are considered to be the top 3 Pokemon Go Youtube Channels.  It also included some new but quickly growing Youtubers like Pokemon Trainer Holly.  Curiousily the first time many people met Holly was on Nick's Trainer Tips channel.

Trainer Tips for his part has uploaded a video where he shows frusteration at being left out but also says that it will be ok.  He tells his listeners to avoid boycotting the game and that he is discussing with Niantic about future collaborations.

Trainer Tips Video Response

Personally, as a follower of businesses, and technology I find this behind the scenes drama as far more interesting than the event itself.  Pokemon Go is a different type of game that tries to act as a community connecting device as much as it is a game.  That focus on community gave rise to a variety of online voices many of whom now make a living by being defacto spokes people for the game.  While the company does not pay them, these people exist in a cottage industry created by the game and have their own large followings.  While they tend to say postive things about the game as that keeps customers coming into their cottage industry they could also become critics.   In this case the spokesperson did not even say anything but his fans acted on what they percieved as a slight.  This is a pretty interesting case to be aware of and makes me think about some old political strategies fund raising strategies where politicians know powerful fund raisers and lobbyist and have their staffs do an immense amount work to keep those people happy.  The tech world does not normally function this way, they are pretty cold to even each other.  Layoffs,companies going down and up are so common that people rarely bat an eye at them.

There are two questions now that companies like Niantic with passionate commonities and cottage industries of Spokepeople must ask themselves.  I am asking myself a five questions from a  business perspective on the relatively new place that Niantic sees itself in.

A) How to keep the Unofficial Spokespeople happy.  Also how to mitigate the potential damage they could do to your brand?

B) How can you use the Spokespeople to make your brand better and utilisize them as agents, celebrities for marketing, and promotion?  

C) How can you use communities to troubleshoot problems in the game/product to correct mistakes faster and with less pain to the overall user base?

D) How can you build the people into your game/product to make them feel like they have a real ownership interest it seeing it succeed?

E) How can you use these passonate spokespeople to enhance the game for other users?

While some companies may see these spokespeople as spoiled or arrogant.  Some companies may hate the loss of control of their narrative its important to also recognize the opportunities and upsides that these cottage industries can offer the company.  In my view the opportunities and benefits here far outweigh the negatives but a company needs to be careful here.  If you choose to try to use them you need to be hyper aware of them, you need to embrace them.

What all companies now can not afford is to ignore and pretend that they do not exist.  Where these cottage industries exist is how your customers are learning and engaging your brand on a daily basis.  More over people develop relationships and affinity with these personalities, often times those relationships will be stronger with those individuals than they are with the company itself.  You can't ignore that as a company, and you really ignore these people at your own peril.  A company can not like these people but at the end of the day that does not help the company.  What likely best helps the company is to find ways to embrace these people and bring them into the fold.

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