[Gaming] All Hail the Whales! Grow Your Gaming Community in 3 Simple Steps
Promoting your indie game is about working smarter, not harder. Instead of attracting a sea of potential players with inbound marketing, why not focus on engaging active users who advocate your game for you?
Here are three awesome tips on how you can turn your community into a super-user machine, allowing them to do what they do best … boost your community growth!
1. Establish Strong Relationships
To establish a meaningful connection with your players, it’s imperative that you allow them to interact directly with the game’s core development team. When a player understands your game’s features, processes and challenges, they’re more than happy to pass on this ‘insider information’ to everyone they know, including to their friends, who may join your community later on.
There are three ways you can accomplish this in the early stages of your game marketing. They are:
1. Create easy-to-provide feedback areas where users can ask questions on new developments or provide suggestions. Make sure the questions asked here are immediately answered, and make them publicly available to avoid repetition.
2. Establish a “features suggestion” section in the community. This way your fans know that they are part of your game’s development and its ongoing growth. This gives them a real sense of purpose and belonging.
3. Encourage direct interaction with your whales to develop a powerful bond between them and your game. You can easily achieve this goal by live streaming an interaction of developers with community users.
2. Reward Your Whales
Once you build a strong relationship with your super-users, they’ll spread the word, adding more community members and sharing great content on social media for extended promotion.
To ensure that this to happens the right way, you must frequently reward them. Here are just a few ways you can acknowledge their contribution:
- A simple, personalized thank you note via direct message on the community can inspire them to keep doing the great work they do. This expression of thanks might not be enough, but it’s a great step to jump start your rewards cycle.
- Gamification – Award higher-level memberships with badges or special account levels. This doesn’t just stroke their ego, it makes the rest of the community acknowledge their efforts as well, and highly respect the solutions or answers coming from them. You might have seen this with Amazon’s Hall of Fame or Top Reviewers Program. Is there any doubt that you can trust their single review more than other 100 general ones?
- Give real rewards – Rewards that directly benefit community members who make an ‘extra effort’ for your community can come in the form of premium membership, in-game rewards, in-game currency and exclusive access to new content for alpha or beta testing. Find out what turns them on, and give it to them!
Pro Tip: to learn more about the importance of incentives, read this interesting article on Gamification as Rewards Strategy for Your Community
These three perks will not only encourage your existing players. They’ll encourage more and more of them to join the ranks of the whales.
3. Leverage Social Media
One of the most popular ways for users to discover new games are through social media, via live streaming and gameplay videos. Influencers already have their own communities who specifically enjoy the genre or gameplay tips and tricks they provide.
We’re talking about a massive number of passionate gamers here, and if you can convince relevant influencers to create content for your game, you will drive boatloads of new players to your game from these channels.
Another great tactic is to identify your existing fans on social media, those who passionately share your game’s content on their various channels – and invite them to be the part of your community.
That will not only grant them the rights to exclusive incentives, it’ll make them feel superior to other gamers. And that’s a feeling every gamer loves to have.
Reviews, news announcements and gameplay updates are accepted positively (and much more quickly) by community members when backed by ‘superusers’ or ‘alpha users’. This strategy works much better than direct advertising and steadily strengthens the ‘trust factor’ in your gaming community.
Make sure you have a plan to take care of these game ambassadors so they can take care of you.