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Online Community Management: Communication Through Gamers
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Online Community Management: Communication Through Gamers


April 1, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 8 of 8
 

Rule III: Be Honest

This rule is simple: if you're not honest, you're not reliable, and if you're not reliable, everything you say has no value at all. If a community manager doesn't earn the trust of her community, or loses it by lying or favoring certain players over others, then it's useless to communicate, because her own community will prefer trusting other sources -- most of the time unofficial -- instead of the official one.

If you're thinking about lying about an unpopular patch applied into the game, or hiding it, realize that you're better off communicating about it than risking losing the trust of your community. The companies who lie to their customers are the ones that underestimate the power of community, and it never brings anything good.

Rule IV: Don't Underestimate Your Community

The power of a community is both huge and impressive. A common mistake is to underestimate what a community can do for you or against you, and therefore not invest enough in community tools and community personnel.

Making this mistake can lead you to miss some of your biggest support when it comes to media, testing, moderation, and many other things. It can also lead to an angry community. You don't want to see 5,000 angry players posting in all the gaming forums they know that you don't care about your community.

Underestimating community also means underestimating players, which can lead to other mistakes, like hiding some of your game's modifications because you think the players won't see it, giving information to a foreign magazine and thinking that the European players won't hear about it, not protecting your game files enough because you think the players won't be able to view (and modify) them, and a number of other problems. The history of video game development is full of mistakes made by people who underestimated their players.

If something is possible, then there will be at least one player within your community who will do it.

Conclusion

A gaming community is a wonderful thing. It's living, growing, changing. It can help you by providing bug reports, feedback, and suggestions about your products. It can help you by spreading your word around the world through the internet, and even more. But it can also react in a manner you won't like.

To help it grow it in a good and productive way, the job of a community manager is to provide tools, entertainment and information to feed the beast, and then keep it alive and active by constant attention.

Everyone realizes that traditional marketing and public relations have changed thanks to the internet. Even so, community management is a newcomer in the media relations family, and all companies will have to adapt.

The community phenomenon is growing and changing with the arrival of new tools and social networks, and online communities have become more and more organized. I won't be surprised when we see a gaming community file a class action on a publisher in a few years.

Placed in the middle of customer support and public relations, community management should be part of all media and marketing plans in the gaming industry. Unfortunately, it's a fact that a lot of the marketing managers who went to business school in the '80s don't take community seriously or realize its usefulness.

After having worked on community management and public relations, I think that cooperation between these three ways of communications -- marketing, PR and community management -- is the next step to having really effective communication, and leading a game to the top. After all, could a game based on player's needs and communicating with its fan base really miss its goals?

[NOTE: You've probably noted that I talk about "players" and "community" in this article. Linguistic specialists give a lot of importance to the meaning of words, and so do I. Marketing executives talk about targets. PR executives talk about the public (and very often also about targets, but that's because lots of PR reps are marketing people in disguise).

Commercials talk about customers. Community managers talk about players, or community members. The difference isn't so big, but all these words all have particular meanings which are quite representative of what people may think about the players and how different these positions are.]


Article Start Previous Page 8 of 8

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