Creating a game, optimizing it for perfection, acquiring customers via digital channels and then struggling to retain them – every developer has gone through it all. And when it comes to growing your user base beyond the initial handful, it gets even more challenging. In this post, we’re going to share the one tactic that will help you hack your user acquisition – word of mouth.

In a previous post, we discussed how word-of-mouth can boost the effectiveness of a marketing strategy by 54%. The post also spoke about 84% of people trusting personal recommendations from friends and family, more than advertisements from businesses.

Word-of-mouth has been ranked as the no. 1 influencer for people interacting with businesses or even making purchases.

In simpler words, if you haven’t leveraged the power of user recommendations, then you’re missing out on a major chunk of your target market. And it’s time to rev up your marketing strategy to include it!

Tactics to turn your players into advocates

You can’t just randomly ask your players to recommend or share your game in their circles. They could have liked the experience so far in your game, or hated it altogether. Firstly, you need to make sure that it isn’t the latter and then strategically approach the recommendation stage.

Let’s look at some of the tactics you can use to incentivize your players to promote your game:

Make social sharing natural

According to a study by comScore, an average internet user spends about 13 hours per month on Facebook’s mobile app. The social channel is responsible for driving 1/4th of all the referral traffic online. But let’s face it, there are thousands of businesses trying to take advantage of these channel and of paid advertising to stand out. It will be hard for you to compete with the big marketing budgets.

Instead, you could make social sharing a part of your game. For instance, when a player reaches a milestone, nudge him to share his achievements on a social network or IM app of his choice – be it Facebook or Whattsapp. His friends and followers are definitely going to see it. Or ask them to share what they liked the most in your game.

For example, Disney has made social sharing of favourites easy from their LOL App:

disney app social sharing


Encourage your players to invite their friends

Ever heard of the saying, ‘the more the merrier’? The same holds true for your game players. If a majority of their friends and family are competing with them, they are more likely to stay engaged for a longer period of time. But inviting friends doesn’t come naturally to most of your players.

This is when a little bit of encouragement goes a long way. Make inviting friends a part of your game. Create incentives like extra in-app currency in lieu of completing the action. The more valuable your proposition is, the more likely the player is to promote your game in his circles.

Trolls_Vs_Vikings_SmartIncentivizing friend invites with GetSocial

Also read: How to succeed in in-app referral marketing in 5 simple steps

Make your player the winner

While he might not really be winning the game compared to other players, it is important to make him feel celebrated for every little milestone he achieves. And this calls for some vanity content that will automatically nudge him to share it on his social profiles.

For instance, Runkeeper is an app that tracks and records the run of users every day. It shares data on the distance they covered, the calories they burnt, etc – which automatically are boast – worthy. Think of how many times you have seen such posts on your social feeds!


Runkeeper social media share example

Personalize your share message

Now you could leave it entirely up to the player to frame a quick message while sharing on social media or offer him a pre-typed editable one. The problem with the first is, that if you’re looking at promoting your game and monitoring analytics, you might want to include a trackable URL – something that your players might not be aware of.

So create personalized share messages, including the link from which new users can download your game. Here’s how Timberman does it – an image and a quick message (preferably to stimulate competitiveness) with a link. Et voilà, it’s done!


Timberman game sharing example

Make it a part of the game play

Remember how your notification center was always full of request from your friends playing Candy Crush – even when you did not have the game installed? This tactic is known as making player promotion a part of the game play.

Candy Crush encouraged its players to ‘seek help’ from their friends whenever they got stuck at a level. These could be friends who were already playing your game or those who are yet to join. Following a similar model, you can make game advocacy a natural part of the player flow.


Candy Crush sharing example

And of course,

Ensure it is really easy being your advocate

It is important to understand that your players may not be as hyped to promote your game as you. In this case, asking them to refer your game to friends may seem like an added task that would require effort from their end. Most of your players will not complete the action simply because it isn’t easy.

Ensure inviting friends and social sharing is really easy for the players. For example, Smart Invites allow your players to invite their friends via popular IM apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, among others, as well as social media.


GetSocial Smart Invites

Also read: What Smart Invites can do for your app’s growth

Over to you

Apps that use referral programs have grown 69% faster than those who don’t and have a 59% higher player lifetime value.



Referral or word-of-mouth campaigns take a while to strategize. You need to dig deeper into how your players are engaging with your app and what are the opportunities where you can encourage them to send a friend invite.

But to start with, here are two things you need to focus on before turning your players into game advocates – a great gaming experience and player engagement.

Ready to grow your game faster than ever?