More usage than social media networks, more engagement than any other app; the online and physical worlds have well and truly collided. What an opportunity!

Pokémon Go finally arrived in the UK this week. Potentially the biggest mobile app ever has already eclipsed candy crush, had more engagement than Tinder and is being logged into by more people than Twitter.

Due to demand in Europe, the game’s servers became overloaded with users and struggled to cope.

What is it?

A location based Augmented Reality (AR) game that can be downloaded as an app for Android and iPhones. To play, you need a mobile data connection and a smartphone with GPS.

You’re a Pokémon trainer and have to collect as many of the fictional animals as possible, training them up and entering them into battle against other trainers. Battles take place in real life landmarks.

Players are given one Pokémon to start. To find more, players must walk streets and parks with their phone active and the app open. Flick your fingers on your smartphone to capture the beasts with small Pokéballs, trapping them and transferring them to a digital pen.

The aim is to catch 150-plus Pokémon characters, battle other players and collect items at real-world locations that have been made into "Pokéstops."

 pokemon go

Going Viral

Survey Monkey reports 21 million daily users in the US, surpassing Twitter usage and going neck and neck with Snapchat.

In South Korea, there have been reports of swathes of Pokémon Go fans flocking to remote parts of the border in order to play. The app is reliant on Google maps data which is under government restrictions in certain parts of the country.

There are reports of a Holocaust museum in the US asking players to stay away, a man being caught cheating after catching Pokémon with his Ex, countless car crashes and even one woman being locked in a cemetery overnight whilst hunting for the virtual creatures. Gotta catch em all!

The companies behind the craze, Niantic Labs, in partnership with Nintendo and Pokémon Company, have apparently done relatively little marketing to achieve their instant breakthrough. Instead they have built up anticipation through social media and gaming communities.

Released in Australia, New Zealand and later the US - a week before being launched in the UK, many fans have been whipped up into a frenzy.

What does it mean for businesses?

Remember Pokestops? Real world locations where trainers can collect useful items. Pokestops represent opportunities for local businesses for in-game sponsorship.

It is already reported that deep within the App’s code there’s a mention of McDonalds opening up the idea of sponsored locations and providing the app with a way of being monetised.

This has happened in America, L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City in New York claims its sales jumped 75% over the weekend by activating a "lure module" feature that attracts virtual Pokémon characters to the store and tempting in nearby players. The store's manager spent $10 to have a dozen Pokémon characters placed in the location, according to a report in the New York Post.

Pokémon Go players are highly engaged, spending far more time in the app than they do with some of the most popular social apps such as Instagram and messaging services WhatsApp and Snapchat, according to SimilarWeb, a market intelligence and web analytics firm.

Players are already showing a great deal of pride in their team choices, with strangers bonding over their team affiliations.

Some have even pointed to the power of Pokémon Go as a dating app - Pokémon offers the opportunity to meet someone with a common interest, locally, engage in that activity together, and get a new challenge for tomorrow and the next day. It’s an environment away from the conventional stresses and considerations of dating.

You can cater to specific team members by offering specials for different teams on different days; for example, you can offer £1 off drinks for Team Instince members.

Continue telling the story on social media. Has a rare Pokémon been caught at your location? Use your channels to let others know!

This is a test to the agility of big players in local markets. Groupon, Living Social and Foursquare will be worried!