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LAFS Marketing and Monetization Lecture 9: Community Development And Management


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Level 9 of the Los Angeles Film School's Marketing and Monetization class.

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LAFS Marketing and Monetization Lecture 9: Community Development And Management

  1. 1. Level 9 David Mullich Marketing and Monetization The Los Angeles Film School
  3. 3. The Gaming Community A community is a group of people, gathering somewhere to talk and exchange ideas about one or several subjects. Community is an essential part of just about any game, particularly those whose success is dependent on social virality. There have been gaming communities for ages, but they began to grow bigger and stronger with the internet.
  4. 4. Ingredients For A Gaming Community  A game to talk about  A place to talk
  5. 5. Community Tools  Official Website  Official Message Boards  Fan Site Kits  Blogs  Newsletters
  6. 6. Why Build A Community Building a community can unlock:  Engagement  Influence  Evangelism Let’s take a closer look at each!
  7. 7. Engagement Huge sites dedicated to the lore behind Skyrim and Mass Effect pop up because fans are attached to the game world the developers have created. Community is an important part in deepening the relationship between your players and the game world you’ve constructed.
  8. 8. Influence It’s a mechanism for allowing free and forthright debate between players and your company. A fully functioning community allows players to reach you, resolve problems and feel like they can influence the development of a game they like.
  9. 9. Evangelism A study in 2013 by Applifier showed that 20% of users are sharers and these people drive installs, play longer and are worth more. By offering these players a chance to interact and share their experiences, you can use your community to build and promote your brand.
  10. 10. Benefits Your time and efforts in developing audience and community programs should reap significant rewards as you approach your first game’s release date – and into the future as well. These will become your most direct and unobstructed channels.
  11. 11. Tips On Announcing Release Dates  Referring to an “expected release date” and season will give you more flexibility  As your game gets closer to completion, you can then refer to a release month  As the game nears completion, you can refer to a release day  Contacts at key distribution channel should be involved in determining your final release date
  13. 13. Starting Out In the initial stages of your studio, you’ll have a small online presence with moderate communications frequency.
  14. 14. Mailing List You can start building a community by inviting people to join your mailing list. As your mailing list expands, think about ways to keep this connection going through regular email connections – perhaps monthly. This may be one of your best marketing vehicles because it has direct contact with your most engaged and informed enthusiasts – and maybe game journalists and industry influencers.
  15. 15. Ways To Build Your Mailing List  Mailing List Sign-Up Prompt on your home page, game page, Facebook page, store page  Convey Benefits of signing up: news, periodic special offers, contests, and more  List Building Promotions that offer discount coupons, prize raffles, or other benefits for signing up
  16. 16. Personality and Tone A friendly, open, informal style works very well for creating affinity with your audience. You might find this more difficult at times, when you run into challenges like technical glitches, game schedule delays, etc.
  17. 17. Humor Humor can work very well for building the connection and rapport with your audience. However, a light touch doesn’t fit well for all projects, particularly if it isn’t appropriate for your style of game. Find a person on your team who knows how to strike the right tone and use humor effectively with your audience.
  18. 18. Social Media Social media channels allow you to communicate directly with your audience and engage in ways that never were possible before through traditional marketing. This level of access with your audience will only continue to improve.
  19. 19. Social Media When you attend a trade show, get your project covered on an industry blog, or do some kind of crazy industry stunt, generate interest through social media posts.
  20. 20. News Articles You can interact with your audience in the comments section of articles about topics related to your game. Personality and tone play are important roles in these communications. Stay friendly and positive!
  21. 21. Community Forums Adding a community forum to your website can work well for building connections to your fans and keeping them engaged. You can also interact with your audience through other website’s forums, like the ones run by online game distributors.
  22. 22. Video Channels YouTube and Twitch are great channels for building your audience, interest, engagement and loyalty.  Live streaming days for an inside look at your development team  Streaming sessions that showcase players  Spotlight of community head-to-head play sessions  User-created content and initiatives
  23. 23. Other Audience Development Opportunities  Contests: great for user-generated content, multilayer showdowns, and random giveaways  Fan Art: Posting galleries and praising great submissions
  25. 25. Community Sustainment Your community can help with sustaining interest in your game after it releases. These core fans can build positive word-of- mouth with friends and share their enthusiasm.
  26. 26. A Personal Touch It is important make sure someone has ownership of expanding the community. You’ll find community growth are vastly improved when your team is personally dedicated to responding and monitoring all channels. A personalized note promising a player that we will fix a bug will go a lot farther than a generic response that says “we are looking into the problem”.
  27. 27. Feeding The Beast  Information  Frequent updates and broadcasts  Keep fan sites up to date  Bring up topics in forums  Entertainment  Special events  Contests
  28. 28. Scheduling Communications Build a schedule around key dates so that there is a flow of planned content to the community.  Regularly Scheduled Posts  News And Update Posts  Seasonal Posts Let’s take a closer look at each!
  29. 29. Regularly Scheduled Posts Posts that go up every week without fail and often result from spotlighting activity from your gamers. This could range from the most epic bases seen in your game for that week, to the results of who won in game tournaments or a round-up of the most impressive fan art. By showing gamers you’re watching and appreciating their experiences, the bond between company and player grows.
  30. 30. Seasonal Posts Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving are obvious ones, as well as all sorts of special days that can tie into your marketing. By building up this calendar of content and keeping to it, you can make sure that there is always something for your community to get into and to promote your titles effectively.
  31. 31. News And Updates Posts These posts are rarer or more frequent depending on the game and developer, but you can hype up new content launches by teasing news in the weeks leading up to the reveal and talk about the feedback or effects after the release.
  32. 32. Posting Tips  Find your sweet spot when itcomes to post frequency  Track you results through an analytics tool.  Keep posts short: 1-3 sentences  Use engagement drivers such as opene- ended questions or polls
  33. 33. User-Generated Content Some games offer new ways for players to create user- generated content: new levels, skins, mods, etc. This can keep the game fresh and interesting. User-generated content additions can bring unique and custom content, specifically tailored for different groups. You might even get player-generated content that’s so strong that you want to work with the contributors to integrate their innovations into future releases of the core game, DLC packs of updates.
  34. 34. Contests and Giveaways These types of events bring you a lot of traffic and generate a good following with minimal costs an. Discount codes, free keys, etc. can bring in some good results—all you have to do is to work hard in order to find the best method to interact with your target audience.
  35. 35. Contests User-generated content fits well for contests, with prizes for top contributions. You can also create different kinds of contests beyond user- generated content:  Best fan art/fan fiction  Best player-created videos based on game content  Best cosplay-based on game characters  Head-to-head showdown competitions  Prizes for top players in leaderboards
  36. 36. Contests Build engagement by sharing news on finalists and winners through website and social networks. When these kinds of programs perform best, finalists and winners post about them within their networks.
  37. 37. Community Migration Some players may begin playing a game simply because it's attractive to them, but very often they just go from a game to the other to follow the people they play with. By targeting communication toward an existing community and providing the right tools, publishers can attract groups of players instead of lonely players, and make community efforts more effective.
  39. 39. What Is Community Manager?
  40. 40. Community Manager The ambassador of a company or brand on the web, handling both customer support and public relations duties.  Builds and monitors multiple communities generated in blogs, forums, social networks, etc.  The authorized voice of the company.
  41. 41. Responsibilities  Management of community tools provided to the players  Organization of events (both in-game and real)  Transmission of information from the dev team to the community  Transmission of reports, feedback and suggestions from the community to the team
  42. 42. Community Management Extra Credits: Community Management (5:17)
  43. 43. What Are Soft Skills?
  44. 44. Community Manager Soft Skills  Communication  Knowledge  Experience  Emotional Qualities Let’s take a closer look at each!
  45. 45. Communication Skills  Writing  Talking
  46. 46. Knowledge  Gaming  Linguistic  Social Media
  47. 47. Expertise  Community  Mass Media  Development
  48. 48. Emotional Qualities  Patience  Empathy  Self-Confidence (but not too much)  Humility  Teamwork  Management Skills  Rigor  Ability to Listen
  49. 49. A Day In A Community Manager’s Life 10:00 Check on overnight status 10:30 Round-table with the moderators (players) 11:00 Interact on forums 2:30 Check unofficial communities and news 4:00 Create content: motivational posts, images 7:00 Go Home
  50. 50. Cruise Director Role  Information help  Problem solving  Event planning and management  Content creation
  51. 51. GM Tool  Master control panel for any account  Create/delete items/money  Change character attribute  Customer service functions  World control  Rare spawns  World events
  52. 52. Principles For Helping Players  Listen To Your Community  Be Nice To Players  Be Responsive  Tell Players The Truth Let’s take a closer look at each!
  53. 53. Listen To Your Community Even negative opinions can have value, because you can begin to draw conclusions about what players aren’t enjoying, or what they find hard to understand. You don’t have to change the direction of your entire game based on a single complaint, but having a finger on the pulse of the community can help you to find those points of friction within your game and help players move past them.
  54. 54. Feedback Reports  Short and precise description of the presentation  The target customer  The positive impact it could have  The impact on the development team  The impact on the business
  55. 55. Be Responsive Players want to know that their opinions and concerns are being heard, whether or not they are eventually implemented, and the simplest of responses can be very valuable. Even if you won’t be acting on their suggestions or complaints, you should let them know that, explain why, and thank them for their input. While you don’t have to respond to every suggestion, players like to know that you’re paying attention.
  56. 56. Be Nice To Players Your goal is to appear reasonable to most people, and making a good first or second or fifth impression on your players can have a strong impact later. When players feel good about you, they feel good about your game, and they’ll want to stick around. Public perception is important in making players feel like your game is a good choice for them, and for the friends with whom they'll discuss your game.
  57. 57. Tell Players The Truth Your most passionate players are pretty smart and can tell when you’re trying to cover up a mistake. If they successfully call you out on it, they’ll lose trust in you, and trust is difficult to win back. If they’re taking issue with something that happened in your game that was truly unintentional, admit your mistake and tell them how you’ll rectify it. They’ll appreciate your honesty, and will trust you to do the right thing in the future. Some of the more involved players will even help out by sharing your responses to common questions when they inevitably get asked again.
  58. 58. R-E-S-P-E-C-T If a community manager doesn't earn the respect of the community, everything he says will have no value, and his mission will fail. He also has to make sure the rules are respected by making sure everybody knows them and can understand them.
  59. 59. Beat Cop Role  Griefing  Abuse  Fraud  Farming  Exploits
  60. 60. Bartle Player Types
  61. 61. Sexual Harassment Extra Credits, Season 4, Episode 11 – Harassment (7:27)
  62. 62. Maintaining Controls  Clear rules of conduct  Community education  Fan site programs
  63. 63. Fixing Toxic Online Behavior
  64. 64. Haters Gonna Hate Some audience members will always be negative. When dealing with haters, a balanced rational communication will serve you best. Ultimately, taking the higher ground will put you in the best light. It may not matter to the haters, but it will be noticed by the rest of your audience.
  65. 65. Navigating Landmines A community manager’s behavior has to be without any blame, because one and only one mistake can spread very quickly through the communities, meta-communities, networks, and so on, all over the internet, in less than six hours!
  66. 66. When The Whole Audience Turns On You You need to keep cool, stay positive, and be yourself. These are times when you need to step away from the computer and collect your thoughts before engaging.
  67. 67. Top 10 Community Manager Tips
  68. 68. 1. Don’t Plan Too Far Ahead Your community is always changing and evolving, and it will get stale if it’s planned too far ahead. Do: Plan content one month in advance and be prepared to adjust and update what you planned as the month goes.
  69. 69. 2. Focus On The Quality Of Your Fans, Not The Quantity Facebook will only show your updates to the most engaged segment of your fanbase anyway. Do: Spend time and resources to acquire fans who are truly interested and engaged with your game, and don’t worry about the rest.
  70. 70. 3. Remember Your Role In The Group Love the games and advocate for them, but limit the marketing messages to the fans. Do: Keep fans in mind at all times. Yes, you do represent the brand, but the fans are your real priority.
  71. 71. 4. Make Engagement The Goal Experiment and do what it takes to get your fans to chime in. Do: Ask open-ended questions, write fill-in- the-blank posts, or turn boring updates into polls.
  72. 72. 5. Relax And Interact Like A Real Person Genuine interactions with fans are memorable. The “corporate-speak” response you have planned and pre-approved, is not. Do: Develop response “guidelines” if necessary; converse with fans in a nature, genuine way while staying on voice/tone for the brand.
  73. 73. 6. Run Your Posts Through The “BFF Checker” Fans don’t want to talk to a computer – or a human that sound like one. Do: Ask yourself if what you’re about to say in the community is the same as what you’d day to your best friend. If you wouldn’t be that stuffy or corporate with your friend, scrap it!
  74. 74. 7. Don’t Be Big Brother Let conversations flourish without you, and weigh in when your voice will really add value. Don’t respond too quickly. Do: Activate the 10 minute rule! When a fan asks a question, wait to see if other fans will chime in.
  75. 75. 8. Don’t Coddle The Complainers Sympathizing too much with the naysayers in your community will only draw attention to the issue. Do: Expect a certain amount of negativity in your community and respond when necessary without turning small issues into big ones.
  76. 76. 9. Let Your Fans Shine Your fans are the true stars of your community, and they want to be heard and recognized. If you make them stars, you’ll earn their loyalty for a lifetime. Do: Invite fans to share photos and videos, and feature their stories in updates.
  77. 77. 10. Use Your Community To Learn You have a virtual focus group at your fingertips – use it! Do: Poll your fans to find out what they think about upcoming games, marketing campaigns, new promotions, and more.
  78. 78. Common Mistakes Made By Management  Sending community managers into the lion's den without proper information and/or backing from management  Not providing enough support to the CM's team/not managing the community team  Underpay/under-consider the community team  Underestimate the importance of coordination between marketing, public relations and community management .
  79. 79. Group Quest Create a plan to build, develop and sustain an audience for your game.  Audience Forming  Audience Building  Audience Energizing  Audience Engagement
  81. 81. Murphy’s Law “If anything can go wrong, it will.” So matter how carefully you plan, something may go wrong.  Game designs change  Projects fall behind schedule  Project get cancelled  Servers crash  Policies considered abusive You need to be nimble and plan for course corrections as needed.
  82. 82. Plan For Flexibility Keep your team open to changes while developing and executing your plan. Games often take longer to complete than originally anticipated. Or you may have better ideas midway through development. Market tastes and platform opportunities may also change. Build buffers into your schedules.
  83. 83. What To Do If Disaster Strikes Think of ways to run lemonades into lemons. If your game gets turned down on Steam, consider holding a “Not on Steam Sale” campaign.
  84. 84. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” This is only true with controversial issues.
  85. 85. Could The Controversy Be Better Handled?
  86. 86. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” However, things that lose your customers trust in your brand can be disastrous.
  87. 87. Marketing Cannot Save A Bad Game!
  88. 88. Boss Battle Ahead! There will be a test on Levels 7-9 the next time we meet!
  89. 89. Away Mission Write three sample e-mail posts to go our to your community mailing list:  Game Project Post  Game Review Post  Game Topic Post