In many ways, cultivating and engaging a community within your game is similar to raising kids: in the early days, extra care and attention is required to sustain them. There might even be times when they break your heart. (Guilty of that one; sorry, mom!)
But investing in a human (or community) is still one of the most worthwhile decisions you could ever make. As they mature, they will always give back in some way—often when you least expect it.
And a mature, well-engaged community will certainly give back. Its members will influence decisions across your entire studio, helping you strengthen your development cycle, generating new content, hunting for bugs, spreading the word to outsiders, and bringing in new players.
So let's find out how you can achieve this for your community.
Engagement: What You Need To Know
What is user engagement?
Simply put, user engagement refers to how long and how often a community member interacts and engages with your content.
User engagement can be a personalized interaction between a player and your development team, or simply a newsletter subscriber opening your email. (Bonus points if they share it with their mates!) It might even be a player who draws fantastic fan art, shares it on their wall, and tags your studio.
Why is it important?
As a game community manager, this should be pretty obvious: engagement is a huge aspect of your job. It is a key metric that allows your team to measure the success of your community efforts and prove your indispensable value to the game as a whole.
How do I boost user engagement?
In this blog post, we'll break down the four stages of user engagement and highlight how you can maximize your efforts at every step.
The 4 Stages Of User Engagement
We came across this insightful study on user engagement, conducted by the University of British Columbia. It surmises that user engagement can be broken down into four distinct stages:
- Point of engagement
- Period of sustained engagement
Stage 1: Point of engagement:
This is when a user discovers and connects with your brand. Here are some things to consider for optimal effect:
It's your job to keep your audience entertained and immersed in the community through your interactionsJoseph Woo
Where are your gamers going to interact with your brand?
Do you want to engage them within the game or bring them to an external platform such as Facebook?
In this initial stage, the best option would be to reach out to as many gamers as possible within the game itself. With an in-game platform, they never have to leave—anything to make it easier for them to stick around, right?
First impressions matter
Just like putting in the effort to dress up for a first date, attracting gamers with appealing graphics and content that is targeted to their needs and interests is really important. Will they be looking for guides, a summary of upcoming events, or just some great memes?
If you can tailor your first impression, you'll be that much more likely to bring new users along to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Period of sustained engagement
Nailing your point of engagement is only half the job. After dressing to impress, I mean, interest your gamer, the next step is actually having some substance.
If you can't offer more than good looks, you'll find it only takes five minutes of irrelevant conversation to bore your date—or convince your gamer to spend their time elsewhere.
So how can you avoid that?
Create engaging and interesting content
To sustain your gamers' attention, your community must offer interesting and engaging content. This could be in the form of game strategy guides, memes, giveaways, contests, quizzes—the list goes on. You are limited only by your imagination.
I bet some of you are even coming up with ideas as you read this, so go for it! The sky's the limit and creativity is key.
Communicate with your gamers
This is the fun part, and often the easiest: invest.
It's your job to keep your audience entertained and immersed in the community through your interactions. Once again, you can let your creativity and imagination run free. Just be sure your audience's interests remain a core value, so they can enjoy the interactions as much as you do.
And before you kick yourself for doing it wrong, bear in mind that it's a lot of trial and error —especially in the early days! Keep tweaking and improving your strategy as you see what excites your audience most and elicits the best response.
Stage 3: Dis-engagement
This naturally occurring event is a challenge for many developers. Whether by choice or due to unfortunate glitches, a user may disconnect from your brand or content. Don't be alarmed: it's natural for interest to wane over time. The key now is finding out how to keep them in the cycle by honing in on Stage 4.
At the end of the day, you want to build a loyal fanbase that will help you make your game as good as it can beJoseph Woo
Stage 4: Re-engagement
By making a concerted effort to recapture the interest of disengaging audience members, you can improve your re-engagement rate: the likelihood of a user returning to interact with your brand, community, or product. This step is key to measuring how successful your efforts have been overall.
As long as you provide your audience with a positive experience and reach out regularly—before, during, and after interaction wanes—you can trust that they will return.
What if your players are not re-engaging?
While you are experimenting with your community efforts, you are bound to lose the interest of some. What you need now is an alternative to re-engage them. It could be an external reconnect tool, such as emails and newsletters or—even better—an in-game platform such as KTplay to get them excited about the community again.
As an example of what such platforms can do, Yodo1 recently organized a community event within KTplay and got almost triple the number of players to enter the game community. With in-game popups for community events, you can draw players who have stopped visiting back into the fold—and restart the engagement cycle.
On the topic of in-game popups, it goes without saying that you should never, ever spam. (No one likes spam!) You need to curate and provide only the information that will appeal to your audience's interests.
Think of this as a second chance to introduce them to your community: try to look at it through their eyes and anticipate what they might want and need from the community—then provide it.
Rinse and repeat
The more your players engage with you, the more they come to like you. What's the end result of this entire process? A loyal community member who loves your game and ain't afraid to yell it from the rooftops.
At the end of the day, you want to build a loyal fanbase that will help you make your game as good as it can be.
If you organize your community engagement efforts to target the four stages above, you will be positioned to achieve results.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we'll talk about some tried and tested methods for user engagement and show you how they can benefit your game!
About Joseph Woo
Joseph is Yodo1's KTplay expert who specializes in growing communities, engaging players and increasing retention through the in-game community management tool KTplay. As a community manager himself he is passionate about players' behaviour, in-game events and coming up with creative ideas to retain players.
Contact him at Joseph@ktplay.com to learn more.