Case Study: PlayStation Influencers Plug Into Virtual Reality Headset

May 23, 2019

Instagram & YouTube Influencer Marketing Case Study: PlayStation Marketing Teams Up With Tech & Gaming Influencers

For the most part, influencer marketing and gaming go hand-in-hand. Leading gaming influencers—whether they’re Twitch streamers, YouTubers, or stars at the top of professional esports—are becoming centerpieces of influence in a booming market. Gaming influencers are trusted by their fans to a strong degree, making them perfect candidates for brand endorsements.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed, least of all by brands and marketers looking to tap into that all-important Millennial demographic. You don’t need to look far to find influencers and creators of all disciplines being employed to promote various brands, from mobile games to chocolate to underwear.

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PlayStation generally has its finger on the pulse when it comes to marketing and is no stranger to influencer marketing. With 18 million followers on its main Instagram and 38,000 followers on its regional Canadian account, it makes perfect sense to leverage the following and garner some positive engagement for the brand.

PlayStation Marketing Goes Small To Hit Big With Gaming Community

With buzz surrounding the announcement that Sony is currently working on a new gaming console to succeed the PS4, maintaining goodwill within the gaming influencer community will be a major objective in the run-up to any potential launch.

PlayStation VR, the company’s flagship virtual reality headset, remains high on the agenda as the company’s most important periphery. This campaign, aimed exclusively at a Canadian audience, leveraged smaller-tiered influencers—often employed by brands because of their propensity to drive higher relative engagement rates—to head up their push.

Goals

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  • Increase awareness of the PlayStation VR headset
  • Drive engagement with its regional Canadian account
  • Use tech influencers to bridge the gap between tech audiences and gamers

Approach

  • Channels: Instagram and Youtube
  • Influencers: Canadian tech and gaming influencers, including mid-tier, micro-, and nano-influencers.

Preview Of Influencers

Themes

In keeping with longtime campaign messages that PlayStation has employed for several years, the themes of this effort reflect an emphasis on gamers and positive gaming experiences with their products:

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  • With the exception of one, all the influencers uploaded two posts for the campaign.
  • All but one of the posts were images, with one short, looped video being the exception.
  • Influencers used the hashtags #PlayStationVR, #ITriedPSVR, and #PSVR, while also tagging @PlayStationCA.
  • Each marked their posts as #sponsored or #ad or used Instagram’s paid partnership tag.
  • Captions ranged from short blurbs showing off the headset to longer captions featuring brief VR game reviews.

Results

Combined Results: 9 posts total

Social Reach

  • Instagram followers targeted: 200,894
  • YouTube subscribers targeted: 941,882

Instagram Engagement

  • Likes: 12,728
  • Comments: 230
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 3.64%

YouTube Engagement

  • Views: 28,322
  • Likes: 1,324
  • Comments: 368
  • Engagement rate (overall average): 3.19%

Karl Conrad Shows Off Snazzy System

Karl Conrad, a YouTuber boasting half a million subscribers on the platform, is known for his vlogs demonstrating all kinds of tech—from phones to TVs to laptops. In his highest-performing Instagram post, Conrad shows fans a custom orange PS4 with a VR headset in full view.

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In the caption, he praises the large catalog of games available to him and asks his 72,000 followers what their favorite VR game is. He incorporates all the associated PlayStation tags, in addition to an #ad tag at the beginning. He garnered 3,490 likes and 117 comments for an impressive engagement rate of 5%.

Tyler Stalman Imagines Childlike Wonder

Tyler Stalman, a professional photographer approaching 200,000 followers on YouTube, is a tech vlogger who places an emphasis on reviewing camera gear in addition to hosting his own podcast.

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In his post, Stalman wonders what his 12-year-old self would have thought of the VR headset in a positive reflection of the tech. He again uses the hashtags consistent with campaign along with a #sponsored tag. Stalman got 2,536 likes and 19 comments from his 53,200 Instagram followers for an engagement rate of 4.8%.

The Girly Geek Straps On VR For Fans

The Girly Geek, also known as Erin, is a writer and blogger is a nano-influencer with an Instagram following of just under 10,000. She frequently posts about games and gaming culture for her fans.

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Her post features her trying out the VR with a copy of Skyrim in-hand. Her caption, like the others, is personalized, with her talking about enjoying the experience she’s had playing the game in VR. She is consistent with the campaign hashtags and singles out @PlayStationCA with a ‘thank-you.’ With 354 likes and 17 comments, she accrued an engagement rate of 3.8%.

Conrad Shows Subscribers Custom Setup In YouTube Vlog

Two of the influencers took the campaigns to their YouTube channels (the other being Justin Tse), with Karl Conrad giving his fans a vlog about his custom PlayStation and his VR setup.

He again touted the extensive library and mentioned the sponsorship with PlayStation, linking to the official VR site page. With 500,000 subscribers, his view count for the video of 9,725 is relatively low. It’s worth noting, however, that the total likes and comments on the video was 890, meaning an engagement rate among viewers of the video of 9.2%. In terms of average video views though, he performed well under his normal range of 50,000 views per video.

Takeaways

  • PlayStation marketing primarily employed tech and gaming influencers for the campaign to garner interest in their flagship piece of gaming tech.
  • PlayStation influencers were all mid-tier or lower, suggesting an attempt by PlayStation to drive solid engagement at a smaller scale than larger influencer marketing campaigns.
  • Tech influencers often have strong authority among fans for their knowledge of peripheries, making them the ideal cheerleaders for PlayStation’s VR set campaign.
  • Cross-channel promotion on Instagram and YouTube proved to be valuable in showcasing the PlayStation VR to a wider and more varied audience.