This article is written for the (German) Blogparade „Geiler Content“ from talkabout.de. Anyway I’ll write in English as this is both the main language of my blog and of the western Gaming Industry.
Creating cool content is one of the biggest challenges in the daily life of a Community Manager. Not only do you need it to fill your channels with but also to engage customers, increase the bonding to the product or brand and to generate something lasting for the medium that never forgets.
When it comes to (especially non-casual) Gaming, Community Managers can be very thankful to have a Community that likes to engage with the products anyway. There are Let’s Players and Cosplayers, people writing awesome fan fictions or drawing gorgeous fan art. Last but not least there are all those filling up Game Wikis, publishing Gameplay Guides and maintaining Guild/Clan/Team Websites full of various Content.
We basically have Communities that are already creating cool content for free. Well, we all know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch – you’ll need to review the Content (and that may include watching a full-length 90 Minutes Let’s Play before sharing it, to make sure it’s appropriate), you’ll need to manage when, where and how to publish it and of course you need to encourage your Community to create content.
And for the latter you need what every Community Manager should bring into his job anyway: lots of passion for your product(s). All of that costs your time and your time is being paid by the company you work for. When you use this content as your Community delivers it, you’ll just have no additional costs.
Review the Content
When reviewing Content you need to make sure it fits your company and community guidelines, age ratings etc. You don’t want to share a Let’s Play full of sexual innuendos or strong language when your game is for 12+ year olds. You want to make sure the content you share was really created by the player. You want to make sure not to share Guides about which respawn points are best to camp at when you normally encourage players to avoid camping at respawn points.
When, where and how to publish
You need to figure out when your Community is active on which Channels and for how long. It might be that your Community plays mainly in the late evening/night, but is that the time they use the board / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube and Co as well?
It is possible that your Community reads Twitter in the morning hours, Facebook in the afternoon and watching YouTube Videos while playing. That is why you need to make sure to track where your community is at what time of the day and how long they stay there – this may change over time, so check at least once a month if the schedule you prepared is still the right one for your Community.
Some Content is by its nature bound to a specific channel. Other content could be shared on multiple platforms. So you’ll need to investigate which channel is best to promote certain content. Maybe you got that awesome Cosplayer doing a video of how s/he makes the Costume and visits a Convention with it – so you found that on YouTube. Of course you can simply share it across all your channels with a note as “Look at that Cosplay!”. It’s not the worst choice but not the best either – because even though we of course want to support our Communities with creative work like this, we also want traffic to our channels, more new players, a higher conversion rate or whatever KPIs your team agreed on. So it could for example be a good idea to write a small article for your website/blog that explains what Cosplay is and features this Cosplayer. Or you could take screen-shots for a Facebook Photo Album. Or you create a Video Reply for your YouTube channel. That is the content you share. So, we already got to the next point:
Encourage your community to create content
Yes, you’ll still need to do stuff on your own, despite having a creative, wonderful community at hand. It is a good feeling for a player if you acknowledge what s/he did. It’s even better to be featured in your content.
League of Legends/Riot for example had the Summoner Showcase (watch the last episode), a YouTube format that was embedded in the client and shared via Facebook/Twitter/Website.
Dragon Age just lately ran a contest in which players could apply via YouTube to get a speaker Role in the upcoming German synchronization for Dragon Age 3; giving players the incredible chance to participate in a very unique way in a game they love while at the same time making sure to get the attention of the followers of all the participating YouTubers. In some cases this may only be very few, but in others its the complete audience of a successful Let’s Player. Plus they now have follow-up content, like a Video Diary of one of the winners.
Another thing you’ll find numerous examples for is to write a weekly/monthly new/blog to highlight everything that was done by or for the Community – from Artwork to Wikis.
The most important ingredient for the perfect Content-Cake remains passion. Without passion on both sides – yours and your Community’s – whatever you create will just be Content. It might generate clicks or likes or some shares. However it will never be “Cool Content”. That kind of content that engages, that will be something you’ll remember, your community will remember for more than a week or two. Something that will still be cool a year from now. Something to be shared again and again. And not just another Cat or Meme (unless it’s a Cosplaying Cat Meme. That’s definitely cool).