By Hagen Weiss
Years ago, releasing a game was as “simple” as putting your product on the shelves and hoping that you would get some press coverage and reviews. These days, with globalization and the Internet, no one is immune from an anonymous user spreading bad reviews or spoilers prior to the launch date.
This is where your new most valuable player comes in: the Community Manager.
There’s more to community management than meets the eye. It is a complex role that requires a good mix of people and organizational skills along with a good sense of judgment and an eye for detail. And it is not limited to social media management.
Here are just some of the many responsibilities of a community manager.
Representing Your Studio with Community Managers
The community manager is the face of your brand. Thus the importance of choosing someone that lives and breathes your game and that can act as an ambassador for your studio.
They have to gain the respect of all parties to the game, from developers to players, and be an authority on the subject, as their role is the perfect mix of public relations, communications, event planning and customer service.
For that reason, the person that you hire for the job needs to have strong industry knowledge as well as professional experience in a similar role; this is not an entry-level position as the consequences of bad community management can be disastrous.
The community manager needs to be able to understand the more technical feedback shared by your users and communicate it to your developers. They also need to have outstanding writing and communication skills to interact with your community.
Most importantly, they need to be provided with enough information about both the game and your studio before starting their mandate, as well as be given a point of contact on your management team to whom they can reach out when needed; there should be no improvisation
Collecting Feedback From Community Managers
Community managers are in charge of building a safe, dedicated space for players to share their experiences. Conversely, they can monitor what is being said about the game on existing platforms and collect feedback in an informal manner; there is no better way to find out what your customers really think than to meet them where they are.
You will likely get more honest feedback by looking at what is being said on online forums like Reddit than by formally requesting comments from people who have purchased your product. More than forums, this includes engaging with your users through social media, whether it be Facebook or Twitter.
It also gives you a direct channel to ask questions and ask users what they like about your product or what could be improved. If you find out that a large number of people have stopped playing your game after a few weeks, ask them why and use this as an opportunity to make your product better rather than see it as a defeat.
Moreover, your community manager will be able to pull data from your social media analytics accounts that could be useful to share with both the dev and marketing teams as it might give you some insights into who your customers really are.
Liaising with Developers
Many players are unaware of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes before a game is released to the public, which can lead to some harsh comments on public forums from frustrated or impatient customers.
While some valuable feedback should be passed on to developers, they do not need to be made aware of all that is being said about the game; sharing constructive criticism and shielding them from unwarranted negativity will make for a much happier and motivated development team.
Conversely, listening to what your players have to say can help your studio build a game or a new update that responds to your customers’ desires and that will likely have more success. It can give you ideas that you would have never otherwise come up with or that you would have had to pay a lot of money for; your customers are an endless well of creativity and who better than people that have actually used your product to help you build your next one.
Having a community manager can serve as a great buffer between your customer service team and your developers; should there be a bug that needs to be fixed, your customer service employees can be the ones handling the official support requests while your developers work on fixing the problem in the background. In the meantime, your community manager can provide general information or temporary fixes as well as keep everyone calm and informed with regular updates.
The same goes for scheduled maintenance; it will go over much better if the community manager tells your audience well in advance.
After some time, the community manager will come to know your target market better than anyone else and will be able to provide your developers with some valuable advice when considering adding new features to a game.
Coordinating Marketing & New Releases
Having an existing community of like-minded customers can help you build a strategic marketing strategy that will feel organic.
You have this captive group of people that are all fans of the same game; if you are planning the release of a sequel, mention it on your forum first and give your community something to talk about and share with their network.
Your community managers can build hype around a new game by sharing insider information and by being authentic and genuine rather than by using a superficial PR strategy.
One of the incentives of being part of a community is receiving exclusives before the general public so be sure to provide frequent updates to your community to keep them engaged. This could also include running contests to win free merchandise or early access to a game.
Interacting and Engaging With Your Customers Should be a Priority
Rather than gaming being an isolated or lonely experience, your players can feel like they’re part of something and have friends to talk to, whether it be the community manager or fellow game players.
Moreover, giving them a platform gives superfans the opportunity to share their passion with other players; whether it be tips and tricks to reach a higher level in the game or organizing in-person meetups in their city. When people love your product, they will voluntarily want to spread the word: the role of a community manager is simply to encourage that enthusiasm and turn your fans into brand ambassadors.
Also important is to have a platform that is localization for your users. This could mean calling on the services of a local community manager that speaks the language and understands the culture of gamers located in a specific country. By doing so, you will be able to monitor the content that is shared and ensure a safe space for your community; it’s hard to enforce rules if you don’t understand what is being said. This will also ensure that the feedback and comments that you collect is global and not just limited to the English-speaking or North American market.
A lot of people see playing a game as being part of a global community of like-minded individuals, especially since the rise in popularity of multi-player games; building a space for them to come together that caters to their needs is essential if you want to be successful in this industry and is a great way to build momentum.
Providing an exceptional customer experience truly has the potential to be your biggest return on investment!
Get in touch with us today – we have a team of reliable community managers at our fingertips.
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