Monday, September 21, 2009

Farmville Can Save the Sports Card Hobby

Whenever I log in to facebook, my home page is littered with my friends' Farmville status updates. Originally I ignored the updates and shrugged them off as some game for kids, but eventually more and more of my "adult" facebook friends began getting involved.

Now, I can't log on to facebook without one of my buddies having an update, "Jim just accomplished . . . on Farmville."

What is farmville? It's a game you play within facebook - an application you download to your profile. As the game begins, you receive some land to start a farm (fruits, veggies, animals, etc). Each crop grows at a different rate and you build a harvest to sell, buy more, plant, etc. This process grows your faux farm.

It seems to be pretty addicting. If you don't log in to the facebook application and tend to your field, you won't have a good harvest. The application even updates you with information on your farm and your farming friends can ask you for help doing farm chores.

So I started looking around facebook to see what applications Topps and Upper Deck have come up with. I didn't find anything! Where are they? I found some baseball card applications, but they seemed pretty weak.

Are the sports cards companies missing an opportunity? Considering the success of eTopps, I would have guessed they would have a facebook application. Before you knock on eTopps (I don't use it either), consider the numbers. According to, eTopps gets about 10k unique visitors per month and the user base primarily consists of males, age 35-49 with some college education.

eTopps could:
- Provide an application to trade, buy, and display your eTopps card. It would tie in with your online account.
- Create a digital binder with your eTopps cards.
- Update your profile status every time you make a trade or buy a new eTopps card.
- Send you announcements of the latest offerings.

Pizza Hut is another example of large companies connecting with their audience. Pizza Hut has an application on facebook that allows you to order pizza from your facebook account and receive a discount. I think it would make sense if Upper Deck (or whomever) had an application where you could buy one of their products after seeing it offered in your "virtual sports card binder." The application could direct you to a preferred UD vendor where you'd buy the box or case and get a discount.

I only picked on eTopps and Upper Deck as examples, but I believe the key to our hobby's success is to be more social. The card companies can use Farmville's best practices to grow the hobby. Most card companies have dipped their toe in the facebook shallow end of the pool with fan pages and groups, but it's time to do more.

Facebook's growth is amazing. The online social networking site now has a user base that would make it the fourth largest country in the world!

The card companies need to do more than create a page and post images. It's time to create an application, a virtual binder, and get more social.

1 comment:

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

Couyldn't agree with you more. The lack of true social networking and application integration by the card companies is bewildering to say the least