As you select which digital marketing approaches and tactics you’ll be including in your 2013 video game marketing campaigns, keep in mind that it’s not always which tactics you fit into your budget or the budget you spend, but how smart you are about how those budgets and tactics are used. A huge part of this relies on how you manage the social media strategy. Social media is what holds together and drives digital campaigns, and your attention here will determine how effective your campaigns are, and ultimately how many games you sell, which is what this is all about in the first place, right?
1. Make your fans into rockstars
This is so important! As you grow your fan base leading up to the release of the game, create and look for opportunities to promote your fans. You expect them to share and promote you, so return the favor. Encourage fan-created content like fan art, videos, graphics, tweets and comments, then post them everywhere, giving liberal credit and accolades. Promote individual contest entrees so others will notice. This not only paints you as a game that gives back and gets very involved with their fans, but also invites other fans to be more involved.
Too many campaigns get launched and set on autopilot. Dig in there on a personal level and engage your fans, ask questions, give answers. This isn’t advertising. It’s a two-way street.
2. Match social media voice to game personality
When fans find your game on social media channels, they expect to encounter the game, not a corporate representative. With that in mind, establish what the game would be like if it were a person and then wrap everything you do across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, G+, forums and other social media channels in that voice. Establish a strong social media voice for each game and for the brand itself, or you risk coming off as insincere, which doesn't play well with social media.
3. Focus on the UX of video, contests, content and interactive
People don’t like being marketed to, but they do like doing fun things, even if they're branded. When developing and launching videos, contests, content and interactive builds, always keep the user experience as a top priority. Video game developers and publishers are great at creating awesome user experiences in their games, but when it comes to the marketing, there’s often a rush to collect views, likes, followers, contact info and encourage sharing, with the UX taking a back seat.
Take care of the UX first and the rest will follow. Develop videos that are unexpected and memorable and that fans will want to like and share. Create contests that have a low barrier to entry as far as the work entrants are asked to do, and the amount of information they’re required to give. incentivize sharing by providing bonuses like extra entries or increased promotion for extra votes.
4. Follow the “one click rule” of call to action and sharing
Depending on which phase your campaign is in, you’ll have different calls to action. They can range from “watch the trailer,” “like,” or “follow,” to “share,” “enter here” or “buy now.” Make these easy to find, simple to do and no more than one click away from whatever the fan is involved in at any level of the marketing initiative.
Sharing can be a call to action, but it can also be a voluntary action that doesn’t require prompting so make it easy to do. Sharing also accounts for the majority of the organic results stimulated by paid ads and influencers (see #5). Asking someone to share something is asking for their endorsement, so first answer the question “why will fans want to share this?” Then, make sharing simple and one click away for every tactic at every step of the way.
5. Include paid media spends for each digital tactic
This is always the first to get overlooked, so I'll list it last. Every brand manager and digital agency wants to believe their game and marketing approach will be so special and inviting that everyone will notice. Many are. But even then, will it be at the scale you need to convert to the sales numbers you’re looking for?
Allocate budget for paid media, ads and influencers for each initiative at the beginning of each campaign, and along the way, not just a big blast at the end. This will jump start the awareness and activity, leading to great user experiences, larger communities, increased engagement and organic sharing.
All 5 of these keys work best within a smart digital marketing strategy, and have to be built into the very fabric of the campaign.