Want to talk with the groundswell? You know, that whole social media discussion sharing one-to-many or many-to-many thing? You do, because it is important.
This is the marketing funnel. Its a classic model that works on “interruption” based marketing. This is changing. Now marketing is more about “permission” based tactics. Think of it like SHOUTING AT THE CUSTOMER versus engaging in a conversation with a customer. Thank the internet.
Marketers cannot control customers in the internet age the same way they used to be able to years ago. Consumers now have their own channels to utilize when evaluating and purchasing a product. This is why it is incredibly important to have some presence in social media* and to use it as effectively as possible.
*anywhere with user generated content sharing. Message boards, YouTube, blogs, Facebook, Reddit.
Now, what is the most effective way possible? Well, it relates to the POST Process. Figuring out what you want to do. This is about doing that. There are really 4 options to go with, with the execution and details varying at some level inside of those options.
1) Post a viral video
This is probably the hardest of all 4 options. It is easy enough to make a video, and even easier for it to get views. All you need is a camera and some content. But to make viral? To have people share it because of the actual content? That is tough. Especially to market something. There has to be a catch and finding one that clicks is tough. Anyone can make a video like “Thumbs up, comment, subscribe and share for your chance to win a free copy of our new game!” Does that really add value to your company or your product? No, its just cheap. What could you do? The book example talks about Blendtec doing a video showing their videos blending all sorts of objects then challenging people to do the same. Neat! Shows how durable your blenders are! Now for video games? Maybe ask fans to create their own videos in a chance to win something. Or do something funny where you show what other uses your game serves to play up the humour. “Not only is it a game, it is also a coaster! Shin pads!!… etc” anything that would be interesting enough to share and add meet your POST goal.
2) Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites
The key word being engage. This isn’t just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Engage with your users through these platforms. Have a conversation. Not quite like a FAQ or “help hotline” but try to start a conversation, and then take part. Especially in the games industry there is a lot to talk with your fans about. There is your own wesbite where you can create a message board. There is Facebook and Twitter where you can converse and promote your fans (think about how great that is for them) if they do something great with your IP like fan-art, cosplays, songs, YouTube videos, fan-merch, etc. Fans add value to your company and any social media plan, at its most basic level, is about increasing that value.
3) Join the blogosphere
Startup a blog, and be casual. This isn’t a press release. Its not a political speech. This is to get on the same “level” as your audience. Sort of like an email to your staff about the pizza party. No one wants to read a textbook with stats and numbers being shoved down their throats. A blog like this should be for fun/casual expression. Feel free to inform people, but keep it casual. Speak their language.
4) Create a community
A community refers to your audience, sort of. Think of the people posting on message boards. If they’re posting about your product then they’re your community. So why not try and construct a centralized one for them? This could be on your own site, or by creating a sub-forum on an existing message board (like sub-reddits). Or why not both? The more conversation the more better. This can act as a form of word-of-mouth marketing and as a FAQ that saves your company money because the community helps each other. You can also learn plenty of information to serve as feedback that is probably a lot more informative than any feedback comment section or email from your corporate website.
What to post depends on your industry. If you’re making video games, you’re goal is probably going to be to find a way to use all of these. Create a video around release for buzz. Have an active social media program to disseminate information. Have someone from the dev team or a project lead or a writer do some blog posts to keep fans updated on their long awaited game. And have a community to be able to gauge fan sentiment or feedback so you can optimize your product.
A game I’m currently waiting on is Dragon Age: Inquisition. So far, Bioware has released some trailers that I shared on Facebook. There have also been blog posts and developer diary type videos to give me information on what to expect and what the game will include. There are a number of people who work on the game that are relatively active on the Bioware forums, their own community, to help answer fan questions and keep them informed.
All of this adds value to the company. It is “permission” based marketing. Your audience is inviting you. So why not accept their invitation?