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of human nature. We have to nurse our community, to ensure we have a steady and engaged fanbase, one which will share their excitement with a wider group.”

THE AMBASSADOR’S RECEPTION Efficient community management can mold gamers into consumer ambassadors, fans that will readily promote and champion upcoming titles to their peers. These emissaries can often spread a publisher’s message to people that are beyond their reach, such as relatives and other non-gamers. “People will always tell friends and family about a show they’ve seen, an album they’ve heard or a game they’ve played, and it’ll always have some degree of influence on their own purchasing decisions and those of whoever they decide to tell,” explains Maher. “Consumer ‘ambassadors’ do precisely the same thing to a wider audience and they’re often already respected for their opinions based on the popularity of blogs, Twitter following, and so on.”

Sun adds: “The whole social networking experience has changed the users’ behaviour. Most internet users trust what is recommended by friends on Twitter and Facebook, rather than going to browse sites for find new information. If the ambassador is doing a good job, the



“It seems obvious, but the ‘social’ part is vital. If people feel that they’re speaking to a carefully constructed corporate entity who deals in baked responses, they’ll tune out immediately. It’s very easy to be yourself (or at least a tempered version of yourself) while still toeing the corporate line.”

Dan Maher,

Xbox Live Editor, Microsoft


“The best way is to make friends with [the fans], meet them at events and so on. Don’t just talk about products all the time – talk about any other things that are happening as well to strengthen the connection with your community. That’s how we have gained a good reputation in our network.” Chin Soon Sun,

Community Manager, Tecmo Koei Europe

“Make it easy for people to communicate with you – don’t make them jump through hoops. Add a forum to your website, create a Facebook page for your brand and/or products and create a Twitter account. If you can produce videos, publish them on YouTube as well as your website.” Tristram Defries,

Head of Digital Communications, Rising Star Games


“Smart community managers who have genuine passion for games are critically important, so find a talented one and hang on to them. Let them work closely with studios, answer gamers’ questions, run contests, get fans to attend events. Encourage them to represent gamers’ viewpoint all the time.”

Lizzie Wilding,

Digital Marketing Director, Codemasters

Consumers are more inclined to follow a friend’s product recommendation than a salesman’s. Tristram Defries, Rising Star Games

audience would ask and consider their opinion more than the others.” Defries agrees: “I think they can be very effective. There’s a big difference between us promoting a product and a consumer recommending it to acquaintances. At the heart of it there is an issue of trust – consumers are more inclined to follow a friend’s recommendation than a salesman’s.” However, Maher observes that some consumer ambassadors do not bend as many ears as they would have you believe.

“Within gaming, I think there are very few people who could claim to wield such power, although various blog and fansite owners have convinced naive publishers they do,” he says. “They will have some impact on sales and downloads, but I don’t know how you measure the number of people directly influenced to part with their cash by these folk.”

CULT OF PERSONALITY Other trust issues can be avoided simply by showing a little personality when conversing with the fans. Defries says: “We’re as open and straightforward as we can be, making sure people know it’s OK to talk with us, ask us questions or criticise us. We’re not faceless corporate entities – we are people who value your custom.”

And anyone that goes the extra mile to ensure that the fans’ needs

are being catered to can establish themselves as a personality for the company. Dan Maher and his co-host Andy Farrant are prime examples. “Our roles are not technically community related. There’s no obligation for us to interact beyond the shows we produce,” explains Maher. “But it’s impossible to ignore the potential that these mediums have for fostering community loyalty and credibility. “There’s only so much we can say or do in our shows, so social media allows us to really put ourselves out there. It’s certainly proven that I’m not a corporate mouthpiece who’s been handed a script.”

Publishers are certainly placing more emphasis on their community activities – just look at the social networks Electronic Arts and Activision are building to support FIFAand Call of Duty.

With more and more gamers wanting to know anything and everything about their favourite franchises, the demand for information has increased and the range of places in which they are looking for it has widened. By utilising as many avenues as possible – social networks, forums, on-console programming – publishers can ensure they remain in constant contact with their fans, holding their attention until each new blockbuster arrives on shelves.


“Although social media is free and cost effective, it’s active 24/7 and you need to invest a lot of time and effort to understand your users, to learn the technique and the way to provide your content in the best way to everyone that is connecting with you.”

Chin Soon Sun,

Community Manager, Tecmo Koei Europe


“You often see Facebook and Twitter accounts that only post things related to a game. That’s like a man who only talks about his train collection. If you haven’t got anything to say about your game, keep fans engaged with competitions, questions, anecdotes – anything that’ll encourage conversation and debate.” Dan Maher,

Xbox Live Editor, Microsoft

July 8th 2011 25

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