Hi, I know that it’s been a while since I last posted an article to this blog, but I’ve had a ton of stuff to do, including a total rebuilding of my kitchen, helping out my fiancee with her obligations and so on. A pretty dynamic time in my life. But I have some topics which I’d love to talk about soon and here’s a big one. For the last month or so I’ve been training a lad to become a supporting social media and community specialist at TSG and here’s how it happened, why did it have to happen and what needs to be done.
The main reason (from my point of view) why we engaged another person
Being single-handedly responsible for a specific branch of a company’s operations comes with its own pros and cons. While pros include stuff such as:
- high autonomy,
- trust when it comes to experiments,
- an ability to build one’s professional image in a precise way,
there’s also a lot of downsides. The biggest one of them is definitely crunching once in a while.
2020 was a very busy year for me. I barely took any time off, maybe about 9 days of paid vacation (intertwined with holidays and such, so it was more like 2 weeks). Such behaviour didn’t originate because I enjoy working so much, but because I was afraid of the pre-vacation crunch. Leaving for about a week in August meant that both I and the graphic designer I was working with had to do 3 weeks worth of work in 2 weeks. While it was possible to do and we were able to deliver all the content flawlessly, it was physically and emotionally taxing. While such accomplishments can be greeted with a sense of success, all I felt was relief and „take-this-away-from-me-ism” when I was scheduling the last post for my absence. This process was a sign of times to come.
The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 were extremely hard for the graphic designer and me, because we not only wanted to take a long Christmas leave but also because the GD got pregnant and was supposed to go on maternity leave in the middle of January, which was to render me without a graphic designer for two weeks. We started crunching in November and, aside from the pause near the end of the year, we ended it on about January 15th. This meant that we had to provide 10 weeks worth of work in effectively 6 weeks. The struggle was real then and yet, with a slight help of two other graphic designers, we managed to deliver everything yet again. And a huge kitchen renovation meant that I had no time to regenerate.
This situation was quite stressful, and it got me really tired, as I don’t only make and post content on social media, but also moderate our games’ FB community groups (one of them is 45k+ members strong, so it’s absolutely massive) and a bunch of other stuff. We tried to find a second SoMe&CM specialist for a few months in 2020 (yup, the crunch had been expected as soon as in May 2020), but it turned out that finding a social media manager with a decent background in the gamedev industry and a few years of experience is extremely hard, so the recruitment ended with no results. Because of this, we have realised an important thing:
While a new and experienced social media specialist would need some time to learn the products, we can train an employee, who is already well versed in out titles, in social media and community management in order to make them into a part-time SoMe&CM specialist.
We have tried it before for a short while and it worked decently – the employee decided to leave the company, though (I had nothing to do with it, I swear, lol), but we knew it could be done. Because of this, my PM scheduled internal recruitment for the position.
Finding the right person
As our products’ social media are managed under the extended support team, we’ve decided to open the recruitment with an email to the members of our support team. It contained a description of the role, our expectations, recruitment assessment tasks and what the person would get in return. Sadly, we’ve received no applications in the first few days of recruitment, so I was asked to do a presentation about social media in general and my work at a weekly support meeting. Even though it was far from stellar and I tend to drag my answers to questions, we obtained two applications. After my leader and the PM held recruitment conversations, I assessed the tasks and chose which one I found more suitable. Luckily, we all agreed on one candidate and we chose him and we were supposed to start working together in January (I think).
Let the training begin
Kamil joined me and the previous GD in January (or maybe me and the new GD in February?) as a support agent who works 4 hours a day in social media, assisting me in community management, content creation and so on. The first thing, aside from describing what his job is going to look like, was to clearly explain what do we aim for when it comes to our social media activities and briefly talk about how other companies may use their SoMe channels. After granting administrative access to our channels, I thoroughly explained some of the most important social media concepts like types of content, how pretty much everything is social media can be considered as content, what are CTAs, what is important in writing copy (I think there’s a lot of potential topics for future posts on my blog right here, lol) and other technicalities and procedural stuff regarding our internal processes.
Kamil, as a customer support agent, had had some experience when it comes to talking to people in a professional manner, so the concept of talking to our players wasn’t foreign to him and it proved to be quite helpful. However, some adjustments needed to be made. Our customer support agents often tend to stick to very formal lingual structures and, even if it works there, isn’t really the way to go in social media. People use social media as a way to relax or to express themselves and a formal vocabulary is rarely optimal. Sure, sometimes it could be the thing that is needed, but it’s usually not. This meant that he had to learn how to respond to people according to our internal guidelines. This has been the main focus of his still ongoing training, as Kamil usually replies to people in the FB page inbox and interacts with them in the comments below posts.
One of the most important and most basic skills a social media specialist should have is to be able to create social media content – copy and a description for a graphic designer (this may vary, but that’s what we usually do). As there are 4 active Facebook profiles I’m in charge of, I usually assign Kamil to planning and creating proper content for one or two of these pages. The first few times I was showing him what to do, what a good copy should contain in order to fulfil certain objectives we set for each piece of content and so on. He began creating his own copies and picking his very own schedules when it comes to posting content in no time and while I still supervise him and give him tips on how to deliver better content, he’s now almost independent when it comes to content creation.
I believe that every social media specialist should have at least theoretic knowledge of graphic design. This is why I decided to ask the graphic designer I work with now to create a presentation and to teach Kamil (and me as well) about the theory of graphic design, composition, arranging colours together and what-not.
Kamil had to be taught how to use our internal tools and how to initiate some processes like proofreading copy and so on, but it regards our internal affairs, so I won’t be talking about them in public.
I also decided to let Kamil try new stuff, as a new and fresh perspective is often healthy and enjoyable. On the other hand, I strongly encourage him to take external courses, as I’m fully aware that I might not be the best person when it comes to passing my knowledge on (I still need to work on it) and it never hurts to find out what do others think about similar matters.
One of the most important things in learning how to deal with people in social media is to grind – engaging in a lot of work allows people to form their habits and to find out what works the best. This is why Kamil has often quite a lot of things to do. I want him to learn, to form his opinions and parts his own know-how as soon as possible.
Where are we now and what has changed?
It’s been a while since Kamil has started his work and, at the moment, our sub-team consists of him, the graphic deisgner and me (under the leader and the PM). Since he came, my work has become way easier and I’m certain that this entire process has been a great success. My work has been making me apathetic for a while now, but his inclusion sort of rekindled my interest in the field of social media and community management. I’m glad that the quality of content remained high and our engagement and response times greatly improved. The graphic designer, the leader and the PM all seem content as well. What does Kamil himself have to say about it?
„I’m happy that such an opportunity came, because I had been interested in social media and modes of communication which a company can utilise. It was great that the company allowed me to take part in the initiative despite the fact that I had no professional experience in the field. I’m also content with how the introduction and training turned out and I appreciate a big degree of independence I have at work.”
Kamil’s presence allowed me to take a more strategic and design-oriented look on our social media and it allowed me to be more creative in the communication. On the other hand, Kamil still has a long way to go and a lot of stuff to learn, but I’d have nothing against him becoming a full time SoMe&CM specialist and he’s becoming more and more competent day by day. He shows that he’s not afraid to be outspoken and creative, he even shared some of his ideas and feedback when it comes to our SoMe strategies and proposed an initiative of his own – he’ll be delivering weekly presentations on what other companies in the F2P mobile gaming industry do in their social media, so that’s definitely a big plus. His future is mostly in his hands now, though. I think that his future in the field, if he decides to take this career path, is going to be bright.
Company-wise, I think that’s neat that such an opportunity arose. Even though some work had to be done in order to train Kamil, I’m glad that TSG decided to invest in one of their own, after realising that there were no suitable candidates in the job market at the time of recruitment.
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it. I’d greatly appreciate if you followed me on Twitter (I mostly talk about my daily life, but I’m no stranger to sharing insights and opinions about marketing and the gaming industry) and on LinkedIn (always glad to talk about games and marketing). Hopefully, I’ll be able to write more posts in the near future, so stay updated. I also happen to be looking for a passion gamedev project to work on after hours. If you’re looking for an experienced social media or community specialist, feel free to contact me!