Take a look around your office at 3:00 pm and you'll likely see at least a few distracted employees glued to their cell phones playing HQ, a new live mobile trivia game show with cash prizes. The game, which was founded by the creators of Vine in October 2017, has taken the world by storm. On New Year's Day, the quiz show app cemented its viral status when over one million people participated in the game.
My introduction to HQ came at the end of a long day when I sat unwinding with my family in our living room. At the stroke of nine o'clock I noticed that my daughter's attention turned, like a switch, to her phone. "This is HQ," she informed me.
Watching over her shoulder, I was struck by the Vegas-style light show that precedes each game and by the first few questions, which are extraordinarily easy. When I realized my daughter was playing alongside more than 600,000 additional players I understood I was witnessing a true viral phenomenon.
What makes HQ so popular and what can marketers learn from the game's success as they strive to make their own campaigns go viral? Check out these five lessons:
1. Small Incentives can have a big impact
If there's one thing that marketers can learn from the success of HQ it's that people will do just about anything for the chance to win money -- no matter how small the amount. The HQ jackpot is usually $2,000, split between everyone who answers all 12 questions correctly. The fact is, no player is going to get rich playing HQ, but the chance to win money is enough to get hundreds of thousands of people to tune in every day. Just take a look at this HQ player's reaction when she won $6 after answering her twelfth question correctly.
The game also appeals to such a wide audience by asking questions that fall under a variety of topics, from sports to geography, giving everyone a chance to be able to get the right answer. As you plan your next marketing campaign, think strategically about what's in it for your audience.
2. Focus on what makes your content share-able
Giving your key audience an incentive to engage with your marketing campaign is one thing, but inspiring them to share your content is even better. HQ trivia users can earn extra "lives" by having new players sign up using their referral code.
As you plan your next marketing campaign, consider carefully what makes it share-worthy. Does it appeal to emotion? Does it make the person sharing it feel like they're one of the first to spot a trend?
Do what you can to incorporate share-ability. This is one of the most important elements of viral marketing, so don't underestimate it.
3. Embrace your mistakes
Part of the charm behind HQ is host Scott Rogowsky's inspiring commitment to cringe-inducing corniness. Also, perhaps because of its rapid growth in popularity, the app seems to regularly have glitches in its live stream -- the questions don't display properly or there's a delay in starting the game.
It's during these glitches that Rogowsky shines with his jokes. It's common for you to want everything to be perfect. The truth is, things can get messy and you have to roll with the punches.
4. Consider your timing
HQ is hosted live at 3:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M. daily, both times Eastern. For East Coast players, the afternoon time offers a natural 15-minute work break in the afternoon while West Coast players have a nice lunchtime activity. The evening game works well to close out the day.
Whether you're scheduling a tweet or delivering an important email campaign, think carefully and strategically about when you're publishing your content. There's also something to be said for the fact that the game is not available at all times. Players have to drop what they're doing and play when the game is on, or miss the opportunity until the next time.
5. Don't underestimate the power of video
The medium through which HQ is delivered -- video -- is elemental when it comes to marketing in 2018. It's hard to overstate the importance of video -- particularly mobile video
-- to marketing. If your marketing strategy doesn't include some element of video marketing you're missing out on an opportunity to engage directly with your audience in a powerful way,
Creating a product or campaign that goes viral is as much art as it is science, but taking a page from the playbook of a successful venture never hurts. Learn from these lessons to give your business its best chance to be the next big thing.