Farmville Success – An evaluation


OK…It’s official now. I’m SERIOUSLY addicted to Farmville and there is no denying the fact now. Howmuchsoever I tried to resist this game by blocking all Farmville updates or ridiculing my friends who have been playing it during work hours, but ever since I went to this app with a thought to just have a casual glance on this thingy called Farmville, there has been no turning back. This game is really addictive and I think after a long time I’ve become crazy for any game like this. Yes, when I had opened my Facebook account, I definitely enjoyed few apps but beyond those initial ones, rest I just visited more from a purpose of checking those out. But Farmville is a different story all together, the devotion is so much so that every night when I come back from work the first thing which I do is check out on my crops and harvest the ready ones. And I think I am still not as compulsive user as some of my friends are, someone now dreams of gaining XPs whereas someone wakes up at midnight to harvest his crop, there is one who smsed me his Facebook password to harvest as he was stuck in a long meeting and one who called up and shared the password so that I can harvest his ready crops as he himself was travelling out. Such is the user-involvement in this game!

No wonder Farmville has got 58+ million active users (as on 14th Oct’09) and it has been topping the list of social games ever since its launch on 19th June’2009.


Image Source: Gamasutra

Close to 60 million users in just 4 months??? That’s really some statistics in the history of social games! So, what could be the reason for this historical success of the game? Well, there are actually many but I think the key reasons which can be attributed towards the phenomenal success of this game are:

  • Engaging/Stickiness: Oh, this game is really sticky to its core and this is one of the biggest reasons for so much of repeat visits to this app. You buy crops with Farmville coins, sow them in your farm and if you do not return to your farm on time, your crops wither and die. That’s a loss of money and negative impact on your balance! So, one has to return to this game again & again if you want to make more or do not want to lose your money there. A lovely way to keep the users engaged.

  • Networking: With Farmville on Facebook, there is a possibility of networking within a networking site. You can ask your friends to be your neighbors in farm and there are different ways by which you can visit your neighbors and earn reward points in the game. So having neighbors is advantageous and within social networking arena of Facebook, it gives you another chance of farm networking by interacting and helping your friends. Now I do get actual messages like, “visit my farm as I’ve revamped it completely” or “check out the new tractor and decorations on my farm” 🙂

  • Viral: It spreads like crazy in your community and there are many interesting reasons for the same, be it free gifts which you send or receive from your friends and later can use those to make money, sharing the wealth of your success or helping stray animals, all have some rewards attached which motivates you to spread the word more and more. You automatically end up doing these making this game truly viral in every way.

  • Communication: Zynga content guys definitely know the art of communication, each action has a prompt for communication and most of it is in either such an interesting language or are encouraging announcements of your advancements that you actually end up publishing your updates to your friends. And these updates act nothing less than a trigger to your friend to go and do some more farming in their farms.

  • Design and innovation: I personally love the UI of this game, I mean the colors and graphics of those fully grown crops definitely give you joy of a different kind. To add to that, constant innovation by Zynga team in terms of new farm additions like those beautiful flowers, Indian flag etc. or themes like the Halloween ones are nice additions for the users.

  • Monetization: Farmville is not just another free social game, it has got a well planned monetization strategy in place too. And by money I don’t mean Farmville coins or cash, I definitely mean hard cash in terms of real $. Thanks to the addiction of this game that once players are hooked on to it, they actually end up spending “real” money in buying “virtual” goods. On any given day 500,000 tractors (which are $20 “virtual” Farmville tractors) are sold on Farmville. No wonder, Zynga the company behind Farmville is making good money and has been profitable every month since September 2007.

Last but not the least, I’m wondering if success of Farmville has some connection with users’ psychography too? The fact that quite many Farmville users are actually Indians, makes me think if it has something to do with roots of Indians being in farming and agriculture? Also in other countries too, amidst all hectic life and work stress people are heading towards peaceful farms in reality, so is setting up a virtual farm somewhere helping them relive the same experiences online too? Has Farmville’s growth got anything to do with user’s inclination towards pastoral lives and is it serving “this” intrinsic need in the virtual world?

I Wear Your Shirt: Social media using Tshirt

Damn! Can it be really this simple to make thousands of dollars by wearing a t-shirt? Yes, if only one could have been as innovative as Jason Sadler. Jason started a unique social media drive known as “I Wear Your Shirt” this year. In this campaign, he is wearing one shirt from one company per day and will be posting his image on YouTube, Twitter, Ustream etc. and at one go the brands would have a poster cum social media campaign through Jason. Interesting, but more interesting is his pricing strategy which varies upon the day of the calendar. For the 1st day of year, he would be charging $1 and for the last day $365. gave him 1 dollar to wear its shirt on 1st Jan & on Jan 29th he was paid 29 dollars to wear shirt. And this is no joke, his 2009 calendar is already sold out and this means that he has made $66,795 this year by just wearing these shirts. To add to that he charges extra for contests & deals etc.

His idea has been so successful that he has extended it for another year and that too with twice the earlier price, as quoted on his website:

I’ve had so much fun wearing shirts this year that I’m going to keep wearing them in 2010, but with a twist2 guys in your shirt, 2 time zones, 2x the exposure and January 1 starts at $2! Reserve your day now on the 2010 calendar and meet the person who will also be wearing your shirt next year.


As I’m writing this post, his 2010 calendar is already sold out up till May’10! Now this definitely speaks for the popularity of the idea clearly! I don’t remember any media property in recent times being booked so well in advance by any brand. And the way in just one year there are already takers for this property with double exposure at double rates, I’m wondering if Jason will soon make this a full-fledged promotion company where he will have promoters across the globe working for him as walking-talking media properties and he can offer clients customized exposure at customized rates! How about Jason or likes of Jason doing this in India? Well, I think this idea is expandable & undoubtedly one of the most innovative utilization of social media to promote a brand.

Facebook URLs – Good for personal branding

Which one sounds better? (dummy id) or Clearly 2nd one, isn’t it?

With 3 million URLs in first 14 hours itself, Facebook’s launch of its username URL is definitely outdated news now. I was also one of those who decided to grab my username URL immediately but before I got my personal one I actually decided to create it for the brand I work for. Now there are many pages for this brand already on Facebook, one created officially by me earlier, some created by employees, some by fans of this service & some by dissatisfied customers, so this immediate rush to grab the official URL was definitely to ensure that the organization only gets the actual name before anybody else. And now that I’ve got it, I think I definitely like this feature. Here are some of the reasons why I think it’s a cool feature esp. from branding perspective:

  • It’s a good feature for individual branding. We use our social media URLs on different communication platforms & a URL like (dummy id) is easier to promote as compared to (dummy id)
  • A branded URL will definitely help in climbing the ladder up in SEO. Just google your name / username & you can see the result.
  • A formal URL will now finally help in distinguishing an official page with others.  Earlier distinctions used to be just on the basis of some profile id numbers and there was hardly any individuality in those URLs.

Considering their huge popularity, it was one of the must-have functionalities which Facebook was lacking behind as compared to say a linkedin or twitter. Though late in its launch but still it’s a welcome change from Facebook. In case you’ve not set your username URL till now, go & grab one here.

Political Advertising: Advaniji on web!

Just last week itself, I wrote about Political Advertising in India for 2009 elections and here comes another surprise of the same. Now after celebrities it’s the turn of Politicians looking up to the mighty web world. Joining the league is none other than L.K. Advani whose website got launched on his 81st birthday on 8th Nov’08. BJP launched this website for their Prime Minister candidate Advani with an objective to reach out to the young and first time voters in India. As per BJP, this is the first website of its kind by an Indian Political party and is yet another step towards reinforcing the forward looking and futuristic attitude of their party.

The site opens up with an intro note and welcome message by L.K. Advani and is available in two different languages – Hindi and English. It’s an interactive website with loads of photos, videos, speeches and forums wherein visitors can participate and post their comment / suggestion / grievances. Overall the site looks neat and very 2.0 types except for the first landing page after home page. I think it’s too boxy, maybe they could have used some tabs and made it less cluttered. But content wise I liked the site. In fact to be honest I never expected it to be this deep esp. their “issues” blog section…quite nice and interesting posts there, though I think there should have been a section for users’ comments on each of these posts in order to make it truly interactive. I’m sure they have not allowed comments to avoid nuances and mud-slinging by opposition parties but then if you want it be interactive you need to provide the facility of comments and expressions, see some cool examples of Bollywood celebs like Big B or Aamir Khan. The forums allow posting and comments but as of today I don’t see much participation from external people over there. The home page content is definitely getting updated as I can see a difference between yesterday’s and today’s content, have a look at the scrn-shot:


Overall a neat website and considering the fact that most of the first time and young voters are digital natives it’s definitely a good step and modern approach towards reaching out to Indian youth. It’s good to know that Indian Prime Minister candidates are going high-tech, but wondering is it their own thought or is it Obama effect 🙂?

Also my fundamental question about Political Advertising in India remains the same – is it worth spending so much money before the elections in communication campaigns when most of the Indians know the realities of Indian Political scenario? It’s good to see such interactive platforms getting launched but is BJP going to take any step to solve the real-time issues or grievances being posted on the website or will these just remain as comment counters to prove that the website was a successful strategy with X number of comments and Y number of hits in Z number of days? Will it actually help in a building a “Strong, Prosperous and Self-Confident India” or will it end in just being yet another marketing gimmick?



Britney 2.0!

Celebrities using web 2.0 platforms is no new phenomenon now…we have seen lots of examples of Bollywood as well as Hollywood ones. From having their own websites, to blogging, to official presence on networking sites like Facebook and Orkut, celebs are doing it all to reach their audience and establish a direct connect with them. And as if these were not enough, now they are having their fan following on twitter as well. Yeah, celebs are actually on twitter now! And following this trend is none other than Britney Spears who has re-launched her website as well as an official page on twitter. Her official website is having a video which says something like this:

“Hello everybody, welcome to the new I want to thank all of you for all your support, it really means a lot to me. I’m going to take you where no paparazzi lens ever could”.


Well, looks like the lady who has always been in news of late for wrong reasons and who is trying to make a comeback with her album “Womanizer” has taken up her image building exercise quite seriously now. One can see Britney all over internet, she is trying to make her presence felt across different platforms – be it Britney TV Channel on Youtube or her revamped official website or her blog or her updates on Twitter. Have a look on these vibrant scrnshots 🙂



As I write this, her Twitter page is already having 2901 followers (and still counting) and 22 updates! Great going lady! Hope social media helps her in revamping her image and she gets covered for the right reasons now. Just one thought – In this age of direct interaction and open communication, isn’t it bit weird that her blogs as well as updates are written by someone from her team and not herself? I didn’t find any post or interaction from her apart from that welcome video. Well, not every celebrity writes blogs himself / herself but at least they project to do so and direct contact via posts, comments or replies definitely gives a feeling of personalized interaction to the fans. Well, I think it would have been better if Britney would have written at least some posts herself (if not all), if not then maybe the language used could have been first person instead of third person. But overall, Britney’s presence on social media is receiving an overwhelming response from her fans and the figures of hits and views of her latest video are already making news in media.


Update: When I took the screenshot of Britney’s twitter page, her followers count was 2835, it took me approx 20 minutes to write and post this, that time the follower count was 2901. Now when I’m trying to edit this post a bit, her follower count is 3237! 402 followers in less than 45 minutes! Whoa…that’s some count I must say 🙂


Enough of friends, movies & music, now its turn for ghosts!

I still can’t believe this 🙂, quite interesting I must say. Initially when I had read this news in March, I just couldn’t believe that someone was actually thinking on this line and I was almost sure that it would be some sort of media rumor, but no I was wrong. It actually is true that now there will be a social networking site for ghosts and aliens! Oh yes, Steven Spielberg is actually launching a ghost / UFO centric social networking website which will be for people who would like to share and discuss paranormal and extraterrestrial experiences.

Speculations are still on about the name of the portal. Some say it will be called “Ghosts”, some call it as “Ghost Town”, latest update being that the site is perhaps going to be called “The Rising” or “Rising”. Apart from networking angle, the site will also have original video content focusing on alleged ghost and UFO stories. Now we all know the connection between Steven Spielberg and paranormal experiences. Who can forget movies like E.T The Extra Terrestrial, Close Encounter of the third world, Jurrasic Park etc which are one of the highest grosser of all times at box office! Steven at many occasions has also narrated some real life chilling experiences about his encounter with ghosts and supernatural forces. Well, don’t know to what extent his experiences are real but he definitely claims that ghosts and aliens do exist and because of some real life experiences, he got inspired to make movies on this subject.

After general networking, vertical specific networking was definitely slated to be the next big trend in community industry but being niche to this level following a specific vertical is definitely some disruption I must say. And though I don’t believe in such phenomenon (rather I don’t want to believe I guess 🙂) but still there is a large chunk of people who believe in such clairvoyant experiences. And for such TG this kind of open forum will be definitely great wherein they can discuss and share their views with like minded people and know more about it. Hmmm, so looks like enough of networking sites for friends, dating, movies, music, college reunion etc etc, well now it’s the turn of ghosts and bhoooot!

Bollywood on Social Media

After Subhash Ghai’s Black & White promo on Facebook, now Yash Raj Films as well as Devagan productions have taken the route of promo through social media for their upcoming films Tashan and U, Me Aur Hum respectively. Both these upcoming films are having their official communities on Facebook, Orkut and Youtube. Their official communities have promo clippings, songs as well as downloadable pictures of these movies. While Facebook group of Tashan is having more than 400 members, Orkut group is having more than 19,000 members. Orkut group is quite interactive with people discussing their thoughts and casting votes in the polls. Even U, Me Aur Hum group is very active Orkut group with approx 6000 members and very interesting poll questions.

Hmmm, looks like it has become a major trend in bollywood as well to ride the wave of online social communities. Almost every bollywood movie getting released these days is resorting to sites like Orkut, Facebook, Youtube etc. Well, why not? After all, more than anywhere else, that’s THE place where you can catch the young India these days. According to a recent study done by AC Neilson across males and females between the ages 13-35 years across the country, users spend an average of nine hours per week on the Internet, only for personal purposes, and of these nine hours, approximately 25–75% is spent on a social networking site (Source: Express Computer, March issue).

Of late, bollywood has become quite innovative in promoting the films in varied ways. Gone are the days of film promos where the names of actors like Raj Kapoor or Nargis or director like Satayajit Ray itself used to the biggest marketing hook for any film. Now in this age of commercialization and media bombardment, film marketers are trying it all- from traditional media like hoardings and television promos to digital media like exclusive websites to new age television phenomenon like reality shows and now to the latest IN thing, interactivity through social networking sites. With zero media spend and a sure shot way to capture the minds of Indian youth, of course interactive promo on social communities like these has to be the next BIG thing for marketers.

Education in 2.0 world

Be it my love for maths as a subject or my strong conviction about need for education / tutoring portals in India, one site which I have always closely followed up since its inception is This site was launched somehwere in July last year & the recent metamorphosis which this site has undergone is a lovely change I must say J. The site has evolved as a very interesting online tutorial portal & as per the industry sources, the site has got 15,000 registered users till now & is expected to grow to 25,000 users by March 2008 (Source: Hindustan Times) 

Well, as a kid I remember how many of my friends used to hate maths as a subject & considering the phobia of maths in many students till date I think it’s an excellent move to have a portal like this to make the life of students simpler & easier. Oh how I wish such portals would have existed when we were kids!!! Life would have been so simpler for many students in our generation as well J

However, why only maths, I think there is a need for many such portals in India who can offer education to students in an easier and cost – effective ways. Such portals are a win-win situation for all in a country like India, where curriculum based education is being given the highest priority as compared to any other country, where teachers in normal schools and colleges are one of the lowest paid salaried individuals & where accessibility to good education in most of the states is still a burning issue. With such cost effective portals students can get access to quality education in an easier way & at the same time even teachers can make more money as compared to their low salary being paid in most of the schools/colleges. Considering the need & potential of education as a category, I’m all eager to see the developments in this category in future & I’m sure this category will also see a huge boom like travel, job, matrimony & entertainment.