This weekend my Facebook news feed was an extreme mixture of horrible news and people playing Pokémon Go.
To say Pokémon Go has been a success is an understatement, as people from all ages, races, and backgrounds are coming together to run around town looking to capture and train Pokémon.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some negative news associated with it – robberies, server overloads, and possible security issues for Apple users.
But for the most part, people are focusing on how fun it is and how it’s making them exercise more and meet other people in their communities.
I haven’t played yet, so I won’t pretend to understand it all, but here’s a pretty good breakdown for beginners.
Now, obviously, this won’t work for everyone, but Pokémon Go could be a great opportunity for nonprofits to be a little playful while encouraging new people to visit their organization.
Here are some examples…
The Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve & Nature Center posted this to their Facebook Page:
I talked to Daisy Griffin, the Education Director at the Preserve who also runs their Facebook Page shortly after she posted this and she said:
I try to keep the majority of my Facebook posts quick and funny and include a picture that was taken at the Preserve, preferably with scenery that people can easily recognize when they come visit. This one, in particular, I just snapped because my family is enjoying the Pokémon Go game and I thought its popularity would make it recognizable enough to get a few laughs.
I do not yet know if the Facebook post is going to encourage anyone to come out and visit, but at least it’s another talking point for people about what’s going on with the Kreher Preserve & Nature Center.
Rachel Braver, the Communications Coordinator at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, said a couple of volunteers she spoke with in person were excited to see the “PokeGym” nearby. She used the close proximity of the gym to ask for more volunteers, as well as a free offer for others playing:
Rachel says they are also considering buying Lure Modules, which allow you to place a Pokémon at a location you choose for 30 minutes.
Churches are also in a unique position as so many of them have been designated as gyms too.
How do you get six 20-something guys to sit on the steps of your church? Your church is a gym in #PokemonGo. pic.twitter.com/TAYTqXrZKB
— Chris Martin (@ChrisMartin17) July 10, 2016
(If you are a church, check out this post for 8 Ways Churches Can Capitalize on Pokemon Go.)
Some are even using the game for advocacy purposes as the hateful Westboro Baptist Church found out.
Even if you don’t run an organization that needs visitors, you can also find other clever ways to get in on it.
Charity Miles, an app that enables you to earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike, has started a Pokémon Go Challenge:
Here is the NYPD encouraging folks not to play and drive:
Yeah we know Charizard is rare but don’t let Officer Monello & his new partner catch you! Don’t #CatchEmAll & drive! pic.twitter.com/S0ipjYTDeY — NYPD 19th Precinct (@NYPD19Pct) July 11, 2016
This could also be a good time to experiment with Snapchat and Instagram as well.
I have no idea how long this obsession will last, so I wouldn’t waste time devising a “Pokémon Go Communications Plan” or anything – just have some fun with it!
I don’t care if #PokemonGO is dead in 2 weeks- the phenomena of all these people interacting in today’s society is incredible and uplifting. — Jimmy Wong (@jfwong) July 10, 2016
What about you? Have you used this crazy phenomenon for good? Share what you did in the comments below.