The Pros & Cons Of Your Gaming Studio’s Social Strategy

twitterblogpost

One of the things that makes gaming businesses unique to consumer product companies is the nature of the game portfolio, which tends to look very different from one release to the next.

Sure, some gaming studios release sequel games with the same game elements as previous versions, but it’s equally (if not more) likely that a studio or team will release subsequent games that look and feel very different than their earlier work. Where’s that leave these studios when it comes to social strategy?

Each new game will tell a different story with different characters. Often the gameplay elements will change as well, as studios aim to diversify their risk by releasing titles that span various gaming categories and attract different types of fans.

Take our friends at East Side Games in Vancouver as a simple example.

Their long-time success PotFarm has one look and feel…

Screenshot 2014-01-07 12.33.53

While DragonUp looks and feels very different…

Screenshot 2014-01-07 12.28.00

This brings up an interesting discussion around social media platforms as a community and engagement tool:

Do you simply use a studio/team social account, branded as you’ve branded your business? Or do you manage social accounts for each game separately?

There are certainly opinions on either side of that simple question.

There are advantages to both approaches, so let’s break  your options down. We’ll use twitter for discussion purposes, but most of the pros and cons will apply to other platforms equally.

Using A Business Twitter Account

The pros…

It’s easier. There’s almost no question that this option is easier than running separate accounts for all of your games. It’s the path of least resistance, and likely makes whomever you’ve tasked with social marketing and community engagement’s life easier. Most studios have resource limitations that make the prospect of multiple accounts seem daunting.

Follower/friend longevity is higher. Winning followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook is hard, and you want to keep them. As you ‘ll see from the tweet I received from Dylan above, it makes sense to assume that a company social account will remain active on an ongoing basis. A game-specific account could fall victim to a discontinued title, which might mean sacrificing those earned followers. In my experience, moving followers from one account to another in order to consolidate followers is difficult and unlikely to result in more than half of those followers finding you or making the effort.

Cross-promotion is expected. As studios release new titles, they’ll typically market those titles in various ways to the players in their previous games. They’ll want to do the same to their social audience, and having a single following means that audience has implicitly subscribed to these types of updates.

The cons…

Companies just aren’t as interesting. Especially in gaming, where the product itself is a world of engagement and immersion. Players are often loyal to the game they’re playing before they align with the company behind it, which you can see with the largest studios in the world. EA’s corporate accounts essentially serve as marketing boards for their game-specific accounts, and the game accounts boast more followers in aggregate.*

Mentions won’t convert as well. This harkens to the idea that players (especially new ones) are more likely to connect with a game concept than a company, so when you’re mentioned on Twitter or references on other networks, an unfamiliar potential player is probably less likely to investigate that referral. If they do, they’ll probably be met with your company information as opposed to a game-specific call to action. All in all, they’re more steps away from trying your game.

Using Game-Specific Twitter Account(s)

The pros…

Engagement should be higher. Obviously this depends on how you’re using your social accounts, but the opportunity for deeper engagement is probably higher if you’ve segmented your audience by their preferred game. They’ve opted in to hear from you in a more specific way, so they should see more compelling content. This presumes you don’t abuse their attention by exclusively talking about yourself and blasting out marketing messages. In addition, a multi-account strategy increases the likelihood that someone will follow more than one of your accounts, which means you have a better chance of showing up in their feeds every day.

Your toolbox is bigger. Each game in your portfolio has a different set of mechanics, story-lines, and experiences, all of which are only relevant to people who’ve played it. Without a game-specific audience, a lot of those relatable elements are off the table as a mechanic for fueling discussions on social networks. Game-specific social accounts open up an amazing array of opportunities for engagement, including themed promotional campaigns, easter egg reveals, deeper storytelling, and game-specific question-and-answer sessions or chats.

Bigger audiences in aggregate. As a trade-off for the effort and resources it takes to manage more than one outlet, it’s likely your team can reach a wider audience with a multi-account strategy. Stepping outside of games for a minute, I’d argue that this is why many television studios manage show-specific accounts alongside their corporate accounts. Would you be more likely to follow ABC Network (90k followers) or the official Scandal account (400k followers)?

Protip: Accounts for game characters. I’ll call this a “Pro” strategy, but going multi-account can open up some interesting character-driven campaign opportunities. Probably for another post down the road.

The cons…

It costs more resources. As mentioned above, it’s possible that a multi-account twitter strategy will cost you more time, money, or both. I think a talented community manager or social marketer should be capable of managing either strategy pretty effectively, but that person may not be on your current team. In addition, having more accounts doesn’t necessarily presume you’ll be doing more tweeting or sharing, so this shouldn’t be your primary reason for sticking with one account.

Discontinuing games may result in lost followers. If you’re not sure a game will succeed, it makes sense to wait before launching its dedicated social channels. It can feel risky to segment your audience when the future is unknown. If your portfolio fluctuates enough for this to be a valid concern, you might think twice before using multiple accounts.

Support channel confusion. Your players may not know which account is the best way to get their support issues answered, which is an important business case to consider. It’s probably safe to assume that users will use the channel they’ve followed or subscribed to for support, but if you mix multiple channels enough or actually want them to go somewhere else for support, that confusion could lead to unhappy user experiences.

So… is one account or multi-account better?

There is definitely no concrete winner on either side of this debate.

I tend to fall on the side of multi-account strategies, because they offer more engagement opportunities and in all likelihood would make you stand out from the crowd more effectively.

Ultimately, how you run your business and the state of your games portfolio are the two major factors that should influence your decision.

If this is a decision you’ve already made, I’d love to know why in the comments or on twitter. If you’d like to talk about how you should set yourself up, I’m also happy to talk – just fire me an email!

 

*EA appears to take twitter more seriously than Activision and Nintendo, interestingly.

ENJOY THAT POST? GET EMAIL UPDATES!

This entry was posted in All, Growth Strategies and tagged , , , : , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.