The successful release of Battlefield 4 this past month by EA’s DICE studio has been making waves online, ranking at number 4 for top games on social media in October. Next up is the release of their ‘Second Assault’ expansion pack this Friday, alongside the launch of the Xbox One.
The presence of Battlefield on social media has enabled an involved and devoted fanbase to participate in the telling of their story. It doesn’t just happen organically — this requires months of planning and day-to-day detail to create something this cohesive. These efforts have paid off in a big way with a Silver Award win for ‘Best Overall Use of Social Media’ from EventTech, alongside such brands as American Express and Pepsi. We talked with EA’s Senior Online Marketing Manager, Daniel Lingen, to give us insight into what work kind of work is behind this award-winning social strategy, how they engage users, and more.
What’s the focus on now that you’re in full launch-mode with Battlefield 4?
I think a lot of times when you launch a game, it kind of takes the focus of getting ready for launch. You spend a lot of time pushing pre-orders and talking about launch and how great it’s going to be once it launches. I think what’s interesting about Battlefield is that it’s just the beginning. A Battlefield product spans, oftentimes, for multiple years after it launches. So if we look at Battlefield 3, we were launching expansion packs for a long time for that game, which is great— it definitely gave our users a lot more to interact with — but it does kind of change the model away from this idea that we ship a packaged good to the fact that we ship a service. That’s what I like about the Battlefield franchise so much is that we do ship a service. We are still talking about Battlefield 3 in our channels, we are still talking about Battlefield 4 in our channels. There’s so many great pieces of content — especially UGC that comes in, that we can really celebrate all of it. So now that we’ve launched, a lot of our focus goes into, well, what are our fans doing We are promoting what they are doing within our channels. I think a really good example is our ‘Only in Battlefield‘ campaign, which had started by us creating a bunch of “moments” that had happened organically during play-tests, by creating these videos and kind of showing of these fan stories. We did enable our fans to create their own ‘Only in Battlefield‘ moments during the beta, but once the game had launched, some of the things we’re seeing were just far beyond anything we could have imagined. So as we move into post-launch, a lot of our focus becomes celebrating the awesome things that our fans do.
How do you go out and find the best UGC?
I have a couple people on my team that actively source videos that are coming up. We also do source things from communities like Reddit or Twitter, or a few things that people post on our Facebook. We’ve also set up an email alias that users can email their videos to. Beyond that, we really leverage our partnership with people like Ayzenberg to have eyes on the channel all time time. We work with Ian Tornay very heavily and he talks to a lot of the influencers so if they have a really cool video or something, they’ll send either to him or somebody on my team.
What does the Eventtech achievement mean to you?
A lot of the time, especially when you’re working on a franchise like Battlefield, you get extremely heads-down and you spend the time executing in your own channel without having the time to look up out of your own lane and see how you’re performing against other franchises. We do a lot of competitive research within the industry, focusing on competitors, but we don’t do a lot outside of it. For us, it really does help validate this theory that we have that we are leading the industry and that as much as reading these social media blogs and reading about what other people have done in the world, it’s about getting off the couch and doing your own tests and creating your own campaigns. As much as we can read about what our competitors are doing and what the industry is doing, the more things that we do on [our own], the better that we’re able to get ahead of our competition and start defining what social media best practices are instead of reading about them.
What social network do you consider as the most important in meeting your goals?
So we have specific goals that we set across the different channels. I think one of the ones that we find really important and kind of like a lifeline for us is Facebook. Obviously we leverage the other channels but Facebook we rely really heavily on to do a lot of our metrics-tracking and our analytics. Facebook has a lot of really great Insights that you can use to find out more about your team. They also have several different types of analytics that you can track. When we sit down at the beginning of the week and actually plan out what the goal for each post is, we can sit down and say, are we going for awareness Is the purpose of this post to attract new people to our Facebook page If so, then we have a complete set of best practices for that type of post. Or we could say engagement— is our hope here to have people engage with the brand We’re not looking necessarily to bring new people in, but we want them to comment on the posts, we want them to ‘like’ the posts. We have a complete different set of best practices for those. Finally, conversion; so if we’re trying to sell the game in a specific post, how are we doing that We apply those best practices. We use those three pillars, which are three distinct pillars that we can set up within Facebook analytics, and we use that to define what the post schedule will look like over the course of a week. We’re not always looking at just one post, we’re not looking at promoting a certain trailer or pre-order message, we’re looking at how we can mix up our UGC, our interactive posts, any of the content that we are releasing with Electronic Arts. We look at how we can leverage all that into one cohesive, multi-channel story. That works with Facebook leading the way.
So do you plan this week-to-week?
We plan out an entire campaign very high-level, so we’ll plan about 12 months at a time on a month-to-month basis. Then, once we are about 3 months out, that month, we will break it down week-to-week. Once we are looking at that month, we start breaking down the weeks into days. So, for example, we are looking at the month of January right now, so we’ve already talked about what we were planning for January months ago, and now we’re going to re-evaluate that. Is that still what we want to be talking about Yes, that is. Okay, what are we going to be talking about on a weekly basis What’s the story that we want to tell each week We define all of that. So now that we’re close to January we’ll sit down and say, what are we talking about each day For the first week of January, we want to put up 6 engagement posts, 4 conversion posts, however many awareness posts— that sort of thing. We look at what we have coming out and build the calendar from there. We find that doing it that way instead of just reacting, results in us having a cohesive story over time as opposed to a bunch of wild marketing messages that might not even tell a story.
You can follow Lingen on Twitter @huskyhog.