Early access has a case for being the biggest thing to happen to games marketing in the last ten years. What started as a strategy used predominantly by small indie companies is now seeing wide use across the industry. It’s responsible for one of the most successful game launches of all time, and its popularity seems unlikely to dissipate any time soon. Even huge AAA developers like Ubisoft are launching games through early access, and Microsoft recently launched their own early access scheme. Continue reading →
Facebook pages are ubiquitous in marketing. They’re cheap and easy enough to set up the even the smallest businesses usually find the time to put together a quick page. With an audience of 900 million daily active users, it might seem like a good place to try and build a community around your product.
Facebook has some pretty big flaws when it comes to community however, some of which are disguised as strengths. Those 900 million daily users don’t exist at your beck and call. They’re not there to be sold to, or to interact with other enthusiasts. They’re there to post funny cat videos, talk to their friends and discuss the finer points of their own selfies. That theoretical giant audience is difficult to move to your branded page.
For business analysts, your company has always been a frustrating one. You have a strong ethos, are market leaders in building a committed workforce and saw astounding early strides in driving off competition to your market with an innovative ICBM-based initial product rollout. Early signs were that your company would swiftly achieve its projected business aims; redefining the contemporary business paradigm by utterly eradicating humanity.
So what’s going so badly wrong? Like so many businesses throughout history, Skynet is failing. Strident competition from the John Connor led human resistance led to a rebranding of your primary business objective, from eradicating humanity to simply killing John Connor. Even after this drastic narrowing of your initial projections, John Connor has continued to eat away at your market share, leaving the company at a clear risk of Chapter 11 or liquidation.
It’s clear that your new time-travel based initiatives are your only hope for regaining market share, but even that impressive technology deployment is failing to produce results. It’s pretty clear that Skynet has a giant weakness that it’s failing to address, and as a Professional Internet it’s clear to me what’s missing. Skynet has failed time and time again to commit to the deploy of a fully-featured, cloud-based community forum. In the rest of this letter, I’m going to let you know a few of the features that can pull your company out of the mire that it finds itself in.
When your business is looking at vendors, there’s nothing better than hearing someone on your team say “I can do this for free”. In the context of building a community, it’s something you’re likely to hear from your sysadmin. “There’s no need to pay for forum hosting” the cry goes out “I can install us a self-hosted one for free”. Boom, you now have a budget for that branded robot dog. You also just gained a huge, invisible expense.
It’s true that installing a self-hosted forum isn’t a big deal. Vanilla is based on an open-source framework, and anyone can download a version to self-host at vanillaforums.org. It’s a great solution for smaller enthusiast sites and private communities. For businesses and other purposes however, self-hosted forums can cause a host (I’m so funny) of problems.
Launching a new product can be a nerve-wracking proposition. As well as the amount of plates that need to be kept spinning on the product development itself, businesses are faced with the problem of getting customers to care about the upcoming product. The games industry is an excellent example of how to do this well.
Games companies have been using product communities to build pre-launch buzz since time immemorial. It’s hard to argue with their results, the industry produced over $45 billion in 2014, and has been on a steady upwards trend since its inception. Product communities are considered a no brainer for AAA games companies, the idea of launching a product without one would be considered absurd.