消费者会将产品带到日常生活中。如果某个跑步运动员的跑鞋帮助其获得马拉松赛得光军，她不会到处嚷嚷：“Just do it!”（游戏邦注：耐克广告语）。反之，她会谈论起跑鞋如何让她在比赛中带来便利。
How to Start a Buzz Fire: Using Social Marketing and Word of Mouth for your Game
We have four people following us on Twitter! How great that our Facebook page grew by 200% and now there are ten people who want to know more about our product! I saw company X with a promo on Google ads, we ought to do the same too. The sounds of a discussion on many studios in their executive levels but what does it really mean? Are any of these sites helpful to actually getting pickup on your brand?
Generating excitement, publicity and new relevant brand related information through buzz marketing is not new, and there are many examples of excellent pickup on product as well as failed attempts which even fostered a very negative image for the product brand. For online games, word of mouth can quickly be generated not just person to person physically, but also through web 2.0 social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and new upcoming social graphs in which raw feedback is given by customers on a wide range of products. We have a vision of software creation and games that are highly engaging, groundbreaking and incorporate new and exciting trends in social entertainment and become recognized leaders. What is your vision for your studio and your game? How will you be able to get these simple points across to your candidates and customers via public education?
We’ll take a look at how one can take certain steps to improve your changes that word of mouth will generate a positive buzz and cause maximum pickup to get your brand into the minds of your target segment, as well as some helpful examples that I used so you can learn from our successes and areas you can improve and be even better. This is written with a more China focus, but you can adapt it to your specific situation.
Identify influential individuals and companies and devote extra effort to them.
In technology, influences might be large corporate customers, industry analysts and journalists, selected policy makers and a sampling of early adopters. For games, you can look at industry associations like the IGDA as well as influential leaders via LinkedIn. While executives are quite busy, many appreciate small indies who are trying to get their feet wet and often can pass on valuable information to help you make a better choice but appreciate that everyone is busy making games, and that sometimes you might need to look at lower tier. I highly encourage you to be actively involved with your IGDA local chapter, go to events such as GDC and start connecting! Look at those who are actively assisting in the industry and see how you can help them sponsor an event for others to join up too.
Supply key people with product samples.
Granted, you might not have a product sample available except in digital format and getting that digital product to a key person you’ve identified can be difficult. When two paediatricians in the US launched MD Moms to market baby skin care products, they liberally sampled the product to physicians and mothers hoping they would mention them on Internet message boards and parenting web sites. The strategy worked; the company hit year one distribution goals by the end of the first month. Take a look at some great game review sites that allow you to submit. Give them time though, don’t rush it through as you’ll probably not receive anything except getting someone irritated for no reason.
Who are your key people that you’ve identified? Who can get your ideas and provide you with some valuable testing feedback that can influence your decisions? Have you thought about using Kickstarter to get your game out? If so, look at making the kicker rewards outstanding and not just holding your hand out; people love games, people love to feel that they are part of something exciting. Use this to your advantage! Do the influencers know about your company or game? Do they know about related work that members in your company have done? Use this.
Work through community influential’s such as local IGDA chapters, LinkedIn groups, Facebook game developer groups, Gamasutra, 1UP, etc.
When Ford introduced the Focus, it handed out cars to DJs and trendy people so they would be seen around town in them. Ford also identified 100 influential young consumers in five key marketing states and gave them cars to drive around.
You however have a limited budget, and you have no resources to do something like what Ford did nor is that directly applicable to your situation and goals. But you can engage by being active at your local IGDA chapter as well as online communities that are involved with game development and begin to network this way. You will more than likely prefer online activities only at first, and due to this you need to review the community influencers in China. But a few groups you may be interested in are: Sina Micro-blogging; China Software Industry Association; Institute of Software Chinese Academy of Sciences; International Game Developers Association.
Don’t see a chapter in your city? There is nothing stopping your company in either being a part of an IGDA chapter nearby or creating a new chapter and becoming active in setting the culture, pace and interest of game development in the city region. Not only would this have your company looked on as a leader, it also sets corporate culture in being interested in philanthropic endeavours and making the industry better. All ideas everyone has but not so many put in practice.
There is significant presence of Chinese and foreign executives and senior position leaders within LinkedIn. You should create a company portal site as well and maintain an active presence for recruitment and messaging.
Develop word-of-mouth referral channels to build business.
Professionals will often encourage clients to recommend their services. Some weight-loss centers find that word-of-mouth referrals from someone in the program have a huge impact on business. Identify your primary referral channels and secondary communication referral channels (those that reinforce the primaries and make sharing more easier). News that is posted upon micro-blogs plus being able to share easily information and videos upon your company site, either via e-mail or micro-blog, etc.
Provide compelling information that customers want to pass along.
Companies shouldn’t communicate with customers in terms better suited for a press release or direct advertisement. Make it easy and desirable for a customer to borrow elements from an email message or blog. Information should be original and useful. Originality increases the amount of word of mouth, but usefulness determines whether it will be positive or negative.
Not only should information be presented in textual format, but also with interesting images and also short interview videos. Engage your company and present information so your candidates and customers can be educated otherwise you risk others educating your targets.
“PAY” WITH FEEDBACK
You don’t need to pay cash to get someone to say something about your product – they’re already doing it and chances are if you aren’t controlling it, they’re doing it in a way that isn’t helping you. Find a way to let your customers communicate with you, then listen to them and provide real support and appreciation. They’ll volunteer to help a brand that lets them be part of the process. There are quite a few feedback programs and tools that you can use for your game and community; a few that are really easy to set up and manage are:
GetSatisfaction is a great tool that allows your users to submit questions and suggestions, but also allows you to have a level of transparency that usually isn’t available between a studio and playerbase in what suggestions are being looked at. You have the ability to mark suggestions as being reviewed, being implemented, or not, and better yet, you can also put your answer to the top under the main question/suggestion, so people know you’re responsive. Be prepared though to be active here otherwise the feedback and communication will start to slip and you’ll end up with negative feedback.
Wibiya also allows a great set of tools to reach out and communicate with feedback back and forth with your community through chats, posts and comments by injecting a toolbar that floats dynamically on the bottom of your webpage. It’s very customizable.
Facebook is a social graph that more than likely needs little introduction. Get your studio page up. Refer that to your wibiya bar and don’t just have an empty wall; get out there and post interesting things you are doing! Chances are, people aren’t knowledgeable on the development process for a video game, and any photos/videos/etc you can post along with your diary of development (within reason, you don’t want to give your IP away) is excellent.
INSIST ON OPENNESS
Campaign success – and perhaps your studio’s reputation – hinges on the openness of your word-of-mouth participants. If you’re creating an organized word-of-mouth program, require that your volunteers are above board.
When I launched our word of mouth program software tool, our goal was to reward openness and word of mouth participants and their friends who joined in, as we’re gamers who love playing games with our own friends and appreciated that others probably had the same viewpoint as us. The concept was simple, you download the small program and run it, it would grab the friends you select from your common accounts like Skype, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and then it sends them a very private message with a key, and when they create an account to play on your server, you get rewarded. We had some terrific rewards there too incentivizing players, and were giving a few cents out too.
Unfortunately, I did not expect that players would not be above board and try to simply get rewards in a black hat way. This caused a lot of issues for us to fix up, and while it was a great tool for players and their friends, we unfortunately had to stop it due to the poor choices some players did in spamming. We then had to create a position in dealing with abuse and a press release which showed those affected by the spam to notify us with just a simple e-mail, then we were able to close the accounts of those who abused the system. In the end though, I had to shut it down as it was just too easy for people to abuse and spam and caused a lot of issues for everyone involved.
Ensure you have methods in place to reward people who take interest in your company, yet rules and procedures to deal with issues created. Have expectations when you create your campaign that not everyone will be conducting themselves like you think, and plan for when that happens before you start.
If you listen closely, you’ll realize that honest opinions influence purchasing decisions more so than questionably positive opinions.
Questions you need to think are how can we obtain honest feedback from candidates or influencers about your studio? How can we ensure that we respond in a positive manner, even when we have potentially negative feedback? Look at having prepared responses for the top questions you can think of now which include difficult questions for the company so you are prepared for honest opinions and how you can potentially respond quickly rather than letting it sit unanswered. You aren’t going to be perfect in everything, but you can respond.
HELP CUSTOMERS TELL STORIES
Consumers place products in the context of their daily lives. If a runner’s footwear helps her set a personal best in a marathon, she doesn’t exclaim, “Just do it!”. Rather, she talks about how the sneakers benefited her stride. In a word-of-mouth campaign for Levi’s Dockers, participants described the pride of being dressed sharply at social events.
Provide your customers with tools to help them share their real stories more effectively. You need to provide your customers and your candidates with tools to help them share their real stories more effectively. If you do not make it easy to share, then more than likely it won’t be shared. Again, there are plenty of tools that assist in this such as G+, Facebook, Twitter and other micro-blogging share applications.
For years marketers have delivered their messages as taglines that make every product sound perfect. Forcing word-of-mouth participants to repeat these messages is awkward and unnatural. Worse still is asking participants to repeat a marketing script of a perfect opinion that’s not their own.
Communicate the history, benefits, and unique attributes of your product to those who volunteer to experience and discus it – and then get out of the way. You should try to have some reinforcing statements so that positive public education happens, but let them micro-blog and discuss in their own words. Through your engagement with your product champions, you will get very valuable feedback to help make your product even more polished plus develop a community that feels valued and appreciated. It’s a win-win.
Word of mouth is a spontaneous event. It can happen at anytime or anywhere – and yes, it can not happen, even when you want it to. If you try to force word of mouth to take place when it’s not appropriate or comfortable, the result will no longer resume real word of mouth.
The key is to help people become more conscious of their opinions. They’ll share them when others are really listening. As more than likely many do not know of your company or games, carefully get an initial bit of public education out there and then allow it to be picked up; encourage and reinforce the pickup!
Odds are your company employs a trained and qualified sales force, no matter how small. Let them do their job, and let word of mouth volunteers do theirs. No one likes to be forcibly sold a product. We like to learn about the pros and cons and then arrive at our own decision. Your word of mouth volunteers are not salespeople. They are siblings, friends, co-workers, and accidental acquaintances.
By tapping into their social network, you will be able to get your positive brand image out to candidates who will be more interested in applying or getting information.
Listening to word of mouth about your product can be like a trip to the dentist: It’s uncomfortable for a moment, but the benefits last a lifetime. However difficult the feedback may be to hear, it is even more powerful to incorporate. Honest word of mouth provides you with a unique opportunity to use real opinions as an incredible feedback loop; and the more you listen and perfect your product, the better your word of mouth will become. (Source: Gamasutra)