So I read an article called “Users of the World, Unite.” Why is this important? It acts really well as something to hold your hand through learning social media. Considering this is a social media blog (well primarily except for rants/opinions/jokes that will come on Wednesdays-ish) I am going to share my 5 favourite points from the piece and how they relate to the video game industry.
But first, social media isn’t just Twitter. It is basically anywhere and everywhere information is shared online. Google searches, Facebook, forums, chat rooms, etc.
1. Virtual game worlds (3.5) and virtual social worlds (3.6) and how they’re becoming one.
About 12 years ago virtual game worlds primarily were for just beating up on people online in Madden or whatever your game was. Virtual social worlds resembled The Sims where you would make a character and fake live a fake life. However, the two virtual worlds have been moving consistently towards absorbing the most popular aspects of each other. Console companies like Xbox Live with the creation of avatars and Nintendo creating Mii‘s are two examples of gaming moving towards the virtual world. Game developers such as Blizzard have been doing the same for longer with the interaction levels in their games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo, while Rockstar will be launching Grand Theft Auto Online on October first to act in the same mold. These are very customizable online representations of ones self and there is the ability for you, as your avatar or Mii or elf or monk or psychopath, to interact with other people’s avatars or Miis or elves or monks or psychopaths.
Second Life has expanded over the years to include elements from dungeon crawlers and role playing games to expand the world from simple virtual simulations of daily interactions to immersive environments and interactions.
I also want to mention Nintendo with street pass for the 3DS, as they bring the virtual and gaming world to the actual world.
The point is, expand your presence. Games are not just a single player thing any more. Gaming has become more and more social. Its moved from hooking up four N64 controllers at once and playing GoldenEye to being in massive matches with friends and foes with a seemingly unlimited amount of people.
2. Ensure activity alignment (4.1.3) and Media plan integration (4.1.4) – communications
This is something that companies like Telus do extremely well, and companies like Xbox with the release communications of the Xbox One have done terribly. Integrated Marketing Communications is a first year concept in any basic Marketing 101 class. Every piece of Telus anything looks exactly the same and they’ve carved out instant brand recognition. White backdrop? Bits of purple and green? Cute animals? Telus. Does not matter if it is some piece of spam mail, web advertising, television commercial, a billboard or on the side of the bus. The imagery and information is always aligned.
Xbox One? Holy moley. Third console curse and it hasn’t even released yet. Why? Because no one knew what they were saying or the audience they were actually talking at. They had fantastic ideas. The same ideas Steam just announced and everyone loves. What made the difference? How it was communicated. The Xbox One keynote was all about the engineering behind the features rather than the features and what they do. Most gamers only heard all the words they never wanted to hear (DRM, always online, no game sharing, etc.) instead of why those words actually made for good things. Then after the keynote, no one at Xbox was saying the same thing as anyone else:
“No, used games still work like they do now”
“Used games only work sometimes”
“Used games only work from certified retailers”
All paraphrases of statements made within a week of the keynote. You had Xbox reps on Twitter saying different things than each other which were saying different things than the official Xbox press releases which were saying different things than guys that were being interviewed by websites like IGN and GameSpot.
PS4 has most of those nasty words above, but they didn’t say it. They just implied it. “Your PS4 is asleep and can wake up from our website” – Your PS4 is always on and connected to the internet. But all gamers heard was “Oh, my console is just in asleep and I can wake it up.” How do you wake up a console from the internet if it isn’t connected to the internet? But hey, PS4 preorders are through the roof and it is out-polling the Xbox One in consumer satisfaction before it is even released.
3. Be active (4.2.1), Be interesting (4.2.2) and Be Unprofessional (4.2.4)
Be active – post content when it is relevant. Have a new game coming out? Make sure that Twitter account is going. Don’t have one coming out? Keep it going but not on full speed. Game franchise dead and burried? Delete the Twitter account. There is nothing dumber than finding a certified affiliated Twitter account for a product and seeing the last tweet sent in 2011. Devalues your brand. Also, make sure you’re replying to, or at least reading, every mention or hashtag.
Be interesting – do not spam bit.ly links. Do not spam in general. Make sure what you’re Tweeting or Facebooking or Pinteresting or whatever, is relevant to what you’re audience wants to see. If I am following Mortal Kombat on Twitter and it is Tweeting links to boring unrelated to anything Mortal Kombat links, stop. I’m hitting unfollow and your Twitter just lost value.
Be unprofessional – this is bad wording. Be casual. No one likes a Twitter that is all business all the time. Share some fan art or cosplays if you’re video games or comic books. Have some replies involved. Show there is a person that runs your social media instead of a robot. The Vancouver Canucks Twitter account does a terrific job of this.
4. Strengths first.
This is simple. When you Google “Apple” what comes out? All this neat info about features and engineering and cool stuff you can do with your life. What don’t you see? Pricing information. When you Google “Kia” what do you get? A few things about general info and then… this headline. A lot of people don’t believe Google searches to be part of social media, but they are. Make sure that your positives are always at the top. Nobody goes past page 2.
5. Understand the one-to-many.
When you do it well, you get viral marketing. When you don’t, your stock drops and you’re issuing apologies and trying to do damage control which is damn near impossible on the internet.
Nothing on social media is private. That is not how it works. How many times have we seen athletes or media personalities get busted for rude DMs or Tweets, inappropriate pictures or general misconducts to which they apologize for half heartedly and then make another half hearted apology for their first one? A lot. Someone can always see you and what you are doing. Damage control is harder and harder to do these days. Just watch any election and see how well one slip up by a politician is scrutinized and their entire campaign is ignored because of that comment. Heck, Xbox One did not understand the one to many aspect and it caused mass confusion and anger to the point of cancelling most of their big new ideas. Ask Bioware how the one-to-many worked out with the ending (l liked it) to Mass Effect 3? People that knew nothing of the game were criticizing it because it was the popular thing to do. All it takes is for one person to make a statement and people will either flock to it in anger or joy.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010, February). Users of the world unite. Business Horizons, pp. 59-68.