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Video: Sony Online's tricks for getting the most out of social media

The house that EverQuest built has learned a lot about keeping its players engaged, taking risks that sometimes work out and sometimes fall flat. Take a tour of their dos and don'ts in this free GDC Europe video.
In today's online game market, it's essential that developers leverage social media to form a relationship with their players. Facebook, Twitter, forums, and other social hubs are all great tools for maintaining an online community, but how should a developer use these tools if they really want their games to grow? According to Sony Online Entertainment's Linda Carlson, there are many answers to that complex question. There's no "one-size-fits-all" approach to social media, and each studio will have to discover their own unique strategy for themselves. But at this year's GDC Europe, the community relations expert took a moment to explain how SOE found its way around the social media landscape with games like EverQuest and Free Realms, and Carlson noted that it all came down to one core idea: Experimentation. "One of our driving mission statements is that innovation is driven by experimentation," Carlson said. "The good thing about that is we can be wrong. We can experiment, we can be wrong – completely wrong – but we can mess around and not be crucified for it until we get it right." When SOE first tried its hand at social media several years ago, the company had no idea what it was doing, she said. Only after trying – and failing at a number of different strategies did the company discover how social media can benefit its online games. Developers and community managers should never be afraid to take risks, Carlson said, but be aware that it is possible to push things a bit too far. "Consistency is very important. You can't just do a few things this week and then not go back for a couple of weeks. People drift away very quickly if you're not providing them with a steady stream of information that is interesting," she said. Throughout her presentation, Carlson offered even more details how SOE conceived and refined its social media strategy, and you can check out her talk in full in the above GDC Vault video.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent GDC events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers. Those who purchased All Access passes to events like GDC and GDC Europe already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription Beta via a GDC Vault inquiry form. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company. More information on this option is available via an online demonstration, and interested parties can send an email to Gillian Crowley. In addition, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault admins. Be sure to keep an eye on GDC Vault for even more new content, as GDC organizers will also archive videos, audio, and slides from other events like GDC Online, GDC China, and GDC 2013. To stay abreast of all the latest updates to GDC Vault, be sure to check out the news feed on the official GDC website, or subscribe to updates via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS.

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