As a Community Manager, you are the online face of a game. You are an all-knowing guru. The sounding board for new ideas. The bulwark for player frustrations. The voice of the company. You bear the brunt of criticism and complaints, but also get to bask in the glory of appreciation and praise.
Why is good community management so important?
Groups of people, from all over the world, uniting in a passion for a certain video game, and for gaming in general. That’s a fantastic, almost magical, thing. Support, grow and nurture a successful community for your game, and you’ll soon have a dedicated army of strong, loyal and passionate followers of your title.
As well this just basically being pretty cool, it also puts you in a unique position. You represent two voices – the opinions and hopes of the community and the realities faced by the developers. It’s a juggling act. Nowhere are you going to get more enthusiastic, honest – often brutally so! – feedback about your game than from the players.
This is where effective community management comes in. Players are invested in the game. They want – and expect – more than generic platitudes and “Thank you for your suggestion”-type responses.
If something isn’t possible, explain why. If you know some changes and updates are in the pipeline, give a little information. Obviously, you don’t want to spill all the beans, but a bit of drip-feeding will generate discussion and get your community buzzing.
It goes without saying that updates made based on suggestions from the community ought to be shouted from the rooftops! Actions always speak louder than words.
What makes a good Community Manager?
Some elements of Community Management can be taught. However, there are certain characteristics that form a solid bedrock from which the best can be built! They include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- Good communication
- High levels of organization
- Good judgement
- The ability to enable others
That last point is particularly pertinent. The goal for any Community Manager is to grow a self-sustainable community. You achieve this by engaging with the community and seeing who are the top candidates to speak about your product.
Once these people have been identified, get in touch with them. See how you can support them, what you can do to help and what information or guidance they need.
You’ll soon see others keen to follow the same path. They see a meaning beyond the usual product-customer relationship. Something more natural. Something with more depth. The more people who join in, the quicker a snowball effect will materialise.
If you try and keep all the work centralised and on yourself, you’ll soon find yourself overworked. This will hinder growth and risk a decrease in the quality of work.
This is especially true for community management in video games. Few industries boast communities as diverse, knowledgeable and supportive as gaming. It’s one of the many reasons we love it so much.
How do good Community Managers post?
Regularly. Engagingly. And all over the place. They go through all related forums, getting a vibe, finding where the community is – and what they’re talking about. Social media is only a small part of community management.
Say you have some important and exciting news to post. Great. But don’t leave it at that. How are you going to make sure your post is interacted with? The last thing you want is your updates and lovingly-crafted posts to be scrolled through without so much as a second glance.
So, how can you encourage engagement? By following the important characteristics of community management.
- Empathy – Ask questions. Put yourself in the player’s shoes. What would you want to see in a post from your favourite game? Start the post like you would a conversation – ‘I don’t know about you guys but…’ ‘Have you seen…’ ‘What do you make of…’
- Passion – You don’t always have to relentlessly focus on your game. Talk about gaming as a whole. Comment and gauge opinions on the biggest stories and news from the industry. Frame it right, and you can also get some invaluable insight into what your community like about other games and the industry in general.
- Flexibility – Though you may be the manager, you can’t direct and dominate discussion. If threads go off on a tangent, let them. Most importantly, get involved in the comments sections. You don’t want to be seen as only logging on and updating when you have something to say.
- Judgment – Know your audience. Will they appreciate a tongue-in-cheek, slightly risqué joke or will it cause a backlash? Is the time right for a more irreverent post or are your community waiting on important news? Every company claims to listen to their customers. As a Community Manager, you need to prove that that’s the case.
Of course, you are never going to please everybody. Some gamers will complain for the sake of complaining – “Haters gonna hate”. Sometimes, you will need to crack the whip. Other times, let your community steam in with supportive comments and fight the battle for you.
Which neatly brings us back to the ultimate community management goal of creating a self-sustained community. It takes blood, sweat and the occasional tear to get there but, as our community management teams will testify, get there you can.
You can read more about MoGi here.