How social are you? Fancy a pint?

Social media has transformed the internet in the past five years but many companies still struggle to embrace it. I was recently invited by iGaming Business Magazine to write an article offering a simple strategy for managing your digital profile. Here it is:

Let’s imagine you’re in the pub having a conversation with your best mate about your local football team’s dismal standing in the league table.
Someone else in the bar, a stranger, is eavesdropping. He is a fellow fan and commiserates with you about the teams failings - so he joins in your conversation about the team’s bad management. The landlady behind the bar chips in her views. And the old bloke sat at his usual table holds forth about the team’s poor defence. Everyone enjoys a conversation.
Now let’s imagine you’re online on your Facebook account having the same conversation with a bunch of people who have become friends with you because you’re all interested in the same football team. You’ve never met them in real life but you have a shared interest that you wish to talk about - and there are thousands of you.
As a definition of social media - such as websites like Facebook, Linkedin, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, FourSquare and the emerging mobile applications - the term ‘conversation’ neatly sums up what social media is. It is an ongoing digital dialogue which is having a huge impact on people’s personal lives but also on businesses too.
Now imagine the conversation around your brand - whether you are a game developer, operator, distributor or manufacturer - and consider what people are saying about your company. Are you listening? Are you engaged? Are you adding to the conversation? No? I thought not. Most businesses don’t bother and they are missing a huge marketing opportunity.
Some people love your company and brand and are talking about it in glowing terms but you are not talking to them. Others really don’t like you and are telling others why they hate you but you are not talking to them. Are you?
If you’re not in the conversation, you’re not engaged. If you’re not engaged you’re not in game and your brand can be trashed. Meanwhile, in failing to engage with social media your company’s ranking on the search engines will be significantly curtailed as social media is now one of the main influencers in search engine optimisation.
Let’s look at the statistics. If Facebook was a country it would be the third most populated ahead of the United States - only China and India are bigger.  More than 500 billion minutes are spent on Facebook every month and 25 million items of content - links, blogs, photos, videos, news - are posted there every month. One third of 18 to 34 years check their Facebook account after they wake up.
Twenty four hours of video content is uploaded on to YouTube every minute and two billion YouTube videos viewed every day - this is rising sequentially. Meanwhile, more than four billion images are hosted on Flickr. Elsewhere, 95 per cent of companies use Linkedin to identify and attract new staff and there are more than 27 million tweets per day on Twitter.
Are they talking about you? Possibly. Are your talking to them? Probably not.
Social media is not a revolution. It has evolved as people have adapted to the internet and moulded it into a media which suits their needs and desires but business has been slow to embrace the opportunities of social media. And curiously, the gaming sector - which should be the most digitally enabled - is failing miserably.
Major companies now recognise the importance of social media as a communications and marketing medium. Scores of business-to-consumer brands now how thousands and in some cases, millions of followers on their Facebook and Twitter sites and are happily talking with their customers, addressing criticism and accepting praise.
Any company considering this powerful new marketing tool must use it as part of the overall marketing strategy of the business. For instance, why bother with a blog or Twitter account if you do not have a link to them on your corporate website?
For any marketing manager in the games sector considering a social media footprint the most simple strategy is: Follow, Create and then Engage.
Follow: seek the online community which is talking about your company online. They might be customers, employees, suppliers and competitors. Understand what they are saying about your company - their likes and dislikes. There are simple  tools on the web to seek out your community - either using Google or more specialist social media search sites like
Create: Establish a personality and tone of voice for your brand and create an social media profile which might include a blog, Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook page.
Engage: Join in the conversation through your blog and other social media websites. Follow people in your field, those who are talking about you and engage with them. You will quickly begin to establish a community who you will engage with.
Not everyone will be a fan. There will always be detractors but at least you are now part of the conversation and can address any issues as and when they arise.
As a marketing tool social media is the most potent tool in your possession and can significantly improve how you communicate with your customers - covering all areas from sales promotion to crisis management. Meanwhile, it will do wonders for your search engine optimisation significantly improving your company’s digital footprint.

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