Rewind to 2000, Facebook was still novel and most games were played in the living room on a console.
Fast forward to 2012 – Facebook dominates a multi-platform, social world where users are playing and sharing games with each other across the world and on multiple devices.
With this have come new opportunities to engage and communicate with the user.
But this multiplatform world has created a world of floating identities and a mass of disembodied but very powerful data. So how can you harness that data to create a presence that your customers can relate to and helps build a fan base for your social game?
Whatever technology you use, whether it’s online community forums or your Facebook fan page, the rules stay the same:
· Be present, visibly support your customers. You might be able to get away with ignoring the user with poor communities full of spam and still bring the dollars in, but this misses a trick. When people love something they want somewhere to go to discuss and experience it further so providing an interactive sounding board as an extension of your product is an important part of user retention.
· Be vocal in your community communications - show your users that there are humans at the other end of the screen, ready and able to listen and respond to them. Using video of the office, "commentators" and real developers to answer queries in online media forums or YouTube sessions.
· Communicate with your customers by tapping into the latest trends and technologies - even if it might seem faddy, that’s exactly when it’s a good idea to try it. Keep your communications creative by jumping on the bandwagons when they’re peaking and know when to jump off when they’re on a downward slide - who still uses MySpace for social networking anymore? What’s the next Twitter?
· Be cohesive - community development is a blended role that combines customer service and engagement. One part deals with individual communication and the other is broader– it doesn’t have to be done by the same person, but there has to cohesion to create a 360 bubble of communication that your customers will expect and enjoy being engaged in. Use all the social tools you can Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are a must, but you'll also need a reliable ticketing system so your customer service team can collate that information properly. Feedback given to your development team is essential to future product dev and current product tweaks.
· Immerse your users - some social gamers want to be immersed in lots of ways, from talking to the community and developers, to having access to exclusive in-game promotions or content.
You can think of community development as a kind of crowdsourcing. Gathering feedback for the developers from your users can be really interesting and rewarding and used quickly to inform the game. Of course you won’t be able to incorporate all of it into your product, but an objective overview from “the cloud” can provide useful insights and ideas to explore.
So make your user feel valued and involved in your product and you’ll build a loyal fan base that can help you make a great social game even greater.