As a Community Manager you know how important players and a healthy community is for social gaming, but have you put any focus on your VIPs and influencers? Studies have shown that VIPs who play social games drive a majority of the revenue, despite being a small subset of your players.
If your company doesn’t have a program in place for your VIPs, you should start working to build that community. Not only do VIPs spend money on the games, they are an invaluable resource of information. They’re actively engaged with the game(s) and most likely have an influence over others in their network.
VIPs vs. Influencers: What's the Difference?
There are differences between VIPs and Influencers in social gaming. VIPs are traditionally those that spend a lot of money on games, sometimes referred to as whales. Influencers can be spenders as well, but have built a network that they can have a great influence over. They can help with promoting the game or even company to their followers and friends, which can be a huge win. If not treated well they can also do harm by bad mouthing your game publicly, so be careful!
Building a Relationship with VIPs
Planning a VIP program will take some effort and resources, but it’s well worth the investment for both the company and the members of the community.
First you will need to answer: do you want to have a subscription based program or one that is based on money spent in-game? You can work with your product manager to assess what’s best for your game and the studio.
There are a lot of factors that you’ll need to outline in your program. You’ll want to start thinking about the value you will be providing the VIPs so they will want to become a member. Some examples of perks that you can provide your VIPs are:
- sneak previews to upcoming features,
- exclusive in-game content that can only be obtained as a VIP member,
- or even the ability to have access to speak directly to someone on the team.
I’ve worked with all of these at my previous company. Our VIPs were sent an email a few days before a new feature was going to be introduced, where they asked not to share any details with their friends. Some of the rewards we were able to provide were exclusive animals for their farms, which produced extra goods.
The VIPs loved these because they were super cute and were valuable for their gameplay. Our top VIPs are also given “red carpet” treatment with a special email address and phone number to call, so they can have more direct customer support, and a means to provide feedback directly to the team.
Another effective program is a tiered reward program. This is more of a loyalty type of program and can be more complex to define, but keeps a clear structure for your members or potential members. They create aspiration for better rewards.
I have no affiliation with Big Fish Casino, but they provide an excellent resource of their VIP program.
Keeping Your VIP's loyal
Once you build your program and run it for a period of time you will have to make sure your VIPs are getting what they need out of the program and stick around. Retention is a constant struggle in community and also relates to your VIPs. Consistent engagement with your players and VIPs is key to retaining them in your game.
In conclusion, setting up a VIP program can benefit both your game studio and your community. Giving them more attentive communication will result in happier players that hopefully will spend more money at the end of the day. It’s a win-win situation!