I’m excited to announce that I’m leading the reboot of A List Games, which Ayzenberg originally launched in 2011 as a digital game publisher.
For this latest iteration of A List Games, we’ll work with indie developers and self-publishers to scale promising games in emerging categories such as free-to-play, mobile, digital distribution and games-as-service. One major advantage A List Games has over other game publishing alternatives is that it leverages Ayzenberg’s 25 years of legacy and expertise in game audience building.
As we hit the ground running, I thought it’d be important to share an overview of how game companies should approach social media platforms given their tremendous impact on reaching players.
The emergence of social media over 10 years ago radically shifted the way that game companies think about engaging with communities. Prior to the rise of Instagram, YouTube and the like, game companies would have controlled interactions with their communities. This mostly manifested through digital forums that the company funded, managed and created content for. For a gamer, the advantage of these forums was that if they got a piece of information about the game, like an upcoming feature or new release, they knew it was authentic. But beyond that, forums weren’t that effective because game companies would tightly control what content was being discussed there. This required a huge amount of manpower and money that wasn’t effective for the community or the game company.
When social media really started to take off, it was a godsend because it allowed the gaming community to self regulate. The number of places where people could talk about your game exponentially grew, allowing for game companies to have a much broader reach. Unlike the old digital forums, these new social media platforms had built-in functionality to amplify messages and create virality around games.
With so many social media platforms out there, you should be cognizant of the type of audience attracted to your game and adjust your social media strategy based on where your players go. In other words, don’t force them to go where you want them, but go where they naturally congregate.
- Purpose: Use daily to acquire new users via ads and use “Groups” to maximize organic reach
- Audience: New and casual players
- Content: Advertising, video
When thinking about the level of fandom and commitment to a game or brand, there’s a funnel where the least engaged but the biggest net cast of potential users is Facebook. When Facebook originally started, it enabled people to connect with each other. Come launch time, it was very good at having viral organic discoverability. It is not anymore.
Facebook is primarily an advertising network and a very, very good advertising network. In fact, if you look at the user acquisition spending for most game companies, there probably isn’t a single company that doesn’t list it as number one for ad spend. Coupled with their sophisticated algorithms, their ability to do laser targeting based on individual customer profiles is second to none. They are absolutely a must-have in your game’s advertising paid media campaign.
In an organic sense Facebook is limited, because it suppresses a lot of the organic content that’s posted. This means your community team or social media team aren’t engaging deeply and very frequently with organic content updates to Facebook. Hence why it should be primarily used to acquire new players or help folks discover what your game is about through advertising or the use of Groups, a functionality within Facebook that has more viral capabilities.
- Purpose: Use multiple times a day for fast community updates
- Audience: Engaged players
- Content: Game status updates, memes, direct communication
Home to a much more engaged audience than on Facebook, Twitter is different in that it enables you to share quick updates about changes, issues or new features around your game with your community. For example, if your live-service game goes down, your community team will immediately notify your Twitter followers about it. It’s very important that your community understands that you’re aware of what’s happening within the game, and that you communicate that to them.
Twitter has the ability to do more content marketing, although it’s not as good as some others. Twitter also has lots of content that revolves around humor, whether it’s memes or GIFs or written content.
Media Sharing Networks
- Purpose: Use daily to tell a visual story of your game through images
- Audience: New and lightly engaged players
- Content: Screens/pictures and video that visualize your brand image
Good for lightly engaged and deeply engaged players, Instagram is probably the single best destination for visually setting up your game’s branding and tonality through screenshots and key art, as well as other elements that humanize your brand such as behind-the-scenes photos of you and your team.
The other important thing about Instagram is it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Facebook, which means it has massive potential from an advertising network perspective, enabling game companies to take advantage of Facebook’s algorithms and deep targeting capabilities.
- Purpose: Use weekly to give an insider look at your brand and team, “Snaps” are temporary
- Audience: Hyper engaged users interested in your company
- Content: “Day in the life” type images, lenses and filters
Snapchat is an underserved social media network that not many game companies are totally capitalizing on. They have several different product offerings that games can use to reach people who want to have a more personal relationship with, say, your development team. These players tend to be a little bit more engaged and more knowledgeable about your product and your development studio.
I’ve seen really good success stories for community teams and for developers who are sharing the behind-the-scenes of the development studio, whether through imagery of them at work, their studio or hanging out together after work.
- Purpose: Use weekly for long-form videos
- Audience: New and engaged players
- Content: New feature trailers, how-to guides
YouTube should be a primary resource for all of your trailer assets. This is the place where you can create channels featuring video-based content and customize your channels with different video series and playlists. This is critically important as I don’t think there’s a single game company who is serious that’s at least daily or weekly posting new video-based content on YouTube.
There’s a tremendous amount of functionality on YouTube, and because it’s a Google property, it actually is the second largest search engine behind Google proper. This means it has all of the sophisticated algorithmic search capabilities that Google does, but within a video format. It’s a great place to engage new players or very highly engaged players.
- Purpose: Use weekly to replace owned forums, player moderated
- Audience: Highly engaged power users
- Content: Discussion topics, game betterment posts
A replacement for old digital forums, Reddit is where long threads of text-based communication and discussion topics about your game can live. The interesting thing here is very rarely does a game company own and manage their own Reddit. You mostly want Reddit to be an organic player-managed outlet for communication. That way, players feel like there’s ownership and that they can be more transparent without getting levee infractions or any of the regulatory baggage that came with old forums.
You can work with your admin on Reddit to increase the visibility of certain content that your fans want to learn more about, for example, Q&A sessions or announcements around new features or content.
- Purpose: Use daily for community discussion and social connection
- Audience: New and engaged players
- Content: How-to and guild/alliance organization
Think of Discord as your social engagement and organization tool with both a voice and text component. This is where alliances or guilds will congregate and talk about what’s going on right now in the game, upcoming events and tournaments. Additionally, it’s effective for organizing people to work together in some format.