A community manager, Marketing Officer, PR specialist or you name it, is something essential for your game to be well known and shared in the neighborhood. Nah, make it the universe. Making games is one thing, sharing it to the world is another and I’m sure you’d prefer to spend 100% of your time developing, rather than spending it on social media.
Be it in your team or freelance, this position is mandatory if you want your game to survive, and want to try to make it a game people will talk about for years. Here are 7 reasons why you should hire one, supported by testimonies of community managers from the video game industry.
- They know social media like they invented it
“When I started managing communities, everything was more “artisanal”: we were doing it through message boards, MSN messenger… Today there are more and more social media to master, sometimes very different from one to another and it’s hard to monitor everything if you’re not working full time on the subject.”
Thibault “Samus” Lizé (The Witcher 3, Gwent)
If not all of them are to be useful for your game, knowing social media features is a job on its own and you most probably don’t have time to keep informed on new ones that pop up frequently. Community managers are paid to know that, have networks and feeds that connect them to reliable sources and they love doing it, while it’s certainly fastidious for you. Focus on your work and let them do the job, you’ll end up with a better game that more people will hear about.
- They will bring reactivity to your studio
“According to me, it’s the main challenge for a community manager: be reactive and proactive when crisis and technical problems happen”
Antoine Heil (Spyr)
I’m not saying you’re not reactive without a community manager. But with your mind focused on code, graphic and sound design or such, it’s hard to keep an eye on social media at all times. And sometimes defusing a threatening situation early is key so that things don’t fall into chaos. Rather than being stressed all the time by your phone buzzing because of annoying notifications, hire someone to take care of everything so that you can work peacefully and solve the problem earlier. You can’t fix bugs while answering questions! And for everything that is not technical, your new employee will handle all the hussle.
- Helps you deal with communities, trolls…
“Developers will be overwhelmed with work if they have to manage social media, patchnotes writing and development”
Simon “zehN” Aquaire (iGamerz)
Making a game takes a lot of time, and you probably don’t have some to spend on answering requests and looking for content to post. A community manager will take this duty out of your shoulders so that you are centered on what matters most : your game. But not only.
“Keeping your cool to answer politely in stressing moments can be difficult” says Mr.Lizé. Your project is like your little baby, and you probably made a lot of sacrifices to birth it properly. But you will have sometimes to face angry if not stupid people saying horrible things about it. Even if you are experienced in dealing with people, some day when you’re tired and stressed you may say something out of rage that may be dangerous for your brand image and generate a bad buzz, hurting your reputation and your sales.
A community manager does not have this kind of link with your project, and even if he likes it he will have objective reactions rather than spontaneous ones you may have because of the heat of the moment. Plus if you are lucky enough, he will be accustomed to trolls and be able to defuse them in a proper way so that your community isn’t hurt by these noisy troublemakers.
- … And everything else
“In smaller studios, community managers have other duties: digital marketing and communications, events, copywriting… But this put aside, marketing and communications strategies have to be integrated from the very beginning, even approximatively, while they are sometimes forgotten.”
Tiffany Vasque, Community manager for a gamedev community
If some of them come from fields that have nothing to do with community management, most community managers have a marketing background and will be able to take care of all kind of communication duties such as PR, search engine advertising, event organization, copywriting… Besides dealing with your community. Either assisting your marketing manager or acting like one if you don’t have any, (s)he will handle all your messages, whether they are coming in or out of your studio.
- (S)he will have obvious return on investment on some occasions…
“Look what is done on crowdfunding pages, it’s a duty a community manager can handle and return on investment is measurable very easily then.”
Antoine Heil (Spyr)
If return on investment isn’t crystal clear when it comes to social media, crowdfunding campaigns are an easy way to see how community management can bring money to the table.
If you have an amazing game concept or beautiful graphics that have never been seen before and that the word spreads by itself, good for you. But even so, wouldn’t it be even better to have big investors taking part in and boost your developing budget?
“Having a good game is one thing, selling it is another especially on a saturated market like mobile gaming” ensures us Marc Meyer (Usagikgames). Keep doing a great job gamedeving, and let somebody work full time on this task, you’ll end up with way better results both for your game and your balance sheet.
- … And bring you return on investment that really matters
Community managers are here to answer queries and concerns, for example reassuring players around the release of a sequel to a popular series.”
François Hardy (Amplitude studios)
As told earlier, ROI of community management activities isn’t easy to compute. You can always compare your number of players before and after a social media campaign but accurate trackers for this type of operations are few and most often it’s not what this task is about. To use another marketing term, community management is about retention. It’s what will make your game last for years, and won’t let it be a fad of the moment that will fade away like a cheese soufflé.
When using social media, you have to be sure you create an active community, listen to them and give them consideration (if not simply love) so that they will defend you in darker times when you face a crisis. This is what community management is really about, and it takes time, patience and devotion. But let’s forget about money, because it’s not all about that!
- They will make you realize how great is your game
“The function of the community manager is crucial to keep a link between the development team and players. We are here to represent the studio for players and bring back feedbacks to devs. Even though this proximity isn’t always doable with huge communities.”
Thibault “Samus” Lizé (The Witcher 3, Gwent)
Compliments on your game by your family, friends and other relatives are good, but sometimes they don’t feel genuine, because they like you and want to cheer you up. How about when they come from complete strangers? Doesn’t it feel great to have recognition from people that have no reason to do so? Your community managers will not only gather feedback, they will generate it in order to know what can be improved and what works well.
Believe me, you will be more than happy to know that people love your game and what can be made so even more get to enjoy it.
Convinced? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of websites where you can find your chosen one if you don’t know where to look for a marketing specialist.