How to talk to your community, when you don’t have to sell stuff? 5 ideas, 8 case studies

Social media communication is often used to amplify the sales of your product. What about moments, during which you aren’t forced to sell? There’s a bunch of stuff you can post when you’re not pushed to sell? There’s a bunch of stuff which can be done and pretty much all of it may have a positive impact on your produt. Here are some situations during which you may choose to do something a tad bit less money-or-KPI-oriented than usually.

Supporting LiveOps (in-game events)

People often enjoy in-game events, so it may be a good idea to talk about them in your social media in order to inform people about them. Such activities could provide increased traffic in your game due to the fact that people are often rewarded quite well for taking part in such events and accomplishing goals set for them. It can also improve your DAU (Daily Active Users) count for short periods of time (some players may stick for extended periods of time, though) and indirectly influence sales in the game. This is, however, mostly true for games operating in the F2P model, as such communication often is engaging only towards already existing customers. Also, a lot here depends on the event itself – especially, if there are some deals in your in-game shop or if purchases are somehow encouraged by the design of the event. The last pro I can think of in this case (sorry, it’s 6 AM here) is the fact that, due to increased DAU, your events will be enjoyed by more people, which may cause them to be more fun and challenging at the same time (it also depends on the structure of said event, though). The more, the merrier.

I do realize that the definition of liveops may differ between companies, but events and AB tests are what I’m used to, so I’m sticking to it when it comes to nomenclature. Talking about AB tests in your social media may be a litlle risky, so I wouldn’t recommend to openly boast about each and every test and its purpose.

Helping your customer support team

Your game may crash once in a while. We’ve all been there and we all know how stressful it may be for your players (and for your team). Therefore, it’s a good idea to communicate that your team is aware of such a situation, that it’s only temporary and that you’re working on fixing the issue. Such posts usually fulfill 3 objectives at once:

  • the community is informed about the situation and knows what to expect,
  • the brand is enforcing an idea of transparent communication, which may be considered valuable and relevant,
  • as a follow up to the header of this section – your customer service/support team will receive less tickets submitted regarding this situation and will be able to focus on other, probably just as important tasks, which can actually be helped and won’t result in a canned response along the lines of „we’re sorry, we’re working on it”. which is pretty much the only thing which can be written, and yet it satisfies nobody, since the problem still exists for the customer and your customer service representative can’t fix this and can’t focus on other matters.
This is from a Facebook group, but it’s a good example nevertheless.

There are also other, less immediate ways of helping your support team. First one is an explanation how a mechanic or an event works. This may provide clear instructions for the player and inform him how to do relevant stuff in the game (although there’s always someone who writes your support saying something like „I don’t know what to do in this event”; such posts limit such submissions).

Second one is done by linking your resources and by resources, I mean pretty much anything – from your community driven groups (be them FB groups or Discord/TS3 servers) to forums and FAQs. Such resources may have multiple purposes, but one of them is often to provide relevant info on the game. In some cases, especially forums and FB groups, you can actually mention the fact that people who take part in the resource (I know it’s not the most fortunate word construction, but I’ve already used, so I kinda have to stick to it) will (probably) happily help anyone when it comes to the game, providing community-driven support, weeding out simpler cases for the sake of your customer service team.

Gathering feedback

Community gathered around your product tends to have multiple opinions about the product itself. People, when encouraged (often such encouragement isn’t even needed, lol), will share them on your social media. This may provide a valuable insight about the current state of the game and how it’s perceived by its community. Posts which are dedicated to feedback could be split into two categories:

  • general feedback, which means that people will share their general opinions, which may be less concentrated and could provide less feedback regarding singular issues/topics, but will usually cover a vast number of topics,
  • concentrated feedback, usually regarding a single topic, like an event or a mechanic; while covering less ground, it’s often going to be way more extensive and precise than gathering general feeback; especially useful when there’s a reason to ask your community to provide such info.

I think they both have a place in a game’s communication, they are simply suited for different situations. Your community will almost always be eager to share their ideas and issues with you, so such posts may be crucial to your entire team’s workflowe (especially in smaller studios) when you’re planning an update, as your players are at the same time, in a sense, your testers and they’ll most likely be able to put your game through such lenghts that in the end they’ll kind of cover more ground during their normal gameplay than your QA team ever could.

Having fun (and letting them talk)

People, aside from professionals, usually spend time on social media in order to chill, have fun and brag. You need to keep this in mind when creating your entire communication strategy. Publishing a simple logic puzzle, asking for the best fish they’ve ever caught, or the biggest boss they’ve ever killed in a solo run provides your players with an easy to use outlet, which they will find enjoyable. On the other hand, CTAs (call to actions) which you can include in your copy could lead to high post engagement, so it’s possible that it’s going to spread nicely, having potential to increase your brand’s awareness. Also, memes are cool and people like them. Creating brand relevant lolcontent may also be an easy way to capitalise on RTM (real time marketing).

A Polish politician said some shit about dinosaurs being driven to extinction, because cavemen (!) were extensively throwing rocks at them (!!!). Thus, a character facing 3 dinosaur-like enemies about to use a rock throw skill 5 times.

Fulfilling special needs of your clients

All of the games I work with have some sort of an built-in community system, like clubs or clans. Aside from talking to other people, posting recruitment advertisements in the game’s group (if it has one) and sending invitation links, they usually don’t have many options to catch interest of potential prospects. This is why we decided to introduce so called „clan posts”. They don’t really generate a lot of traffic and they don’t serve any obvious purpose for the company, but they fulfill one important role for the players, as they provide a platform for them to advertise or to find a clan. Your players surely have some needs which they can’t easily fulfill in your app, but there’s probably a way you can help them in your social media and/or community platforms, optimally not doing much and letting people sort the situation out themselves.

Conclusion

Surely, there are way more ways to talk to your community when your sole focus is not to push sales, but I focused on ones which occur most often in my work. How do you engage your community in such times? Share your ideas and history in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Also, follow me on Twitter and add me on LinkedIn. I’m be always glad to have a talk about social media and video games!

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