THE SOCIAL GAMER CONUNDRUM


the world of social media is becoming more alluring to gaming companies and online marketers


With the saturation of search marketing in online gaming, and the clampdown on US players, the world of social media is becoming more alluring to gaming companies and online marketers who must fight for every depositor. However, if you don't know what you are doing the cost can be immense and the return small.

THE IDEA that you can only profit from branding in the stream is a fabrication made by those who have likely attempted and failed to tame the beast. The creative marketer can, and will, benefit from social media, like any marketing channel, if they can leam that the social user is simply a different style of customer.

There are basically two places I have not seen a company in gaming completely dominate:

1) Social content
2) Facebook

"That is not to say that there are not gaming companies doing amazing jobs. It is simply to say the space is still uncluttered, and ripe for creative companies to begin to draw players.

Social content

When I talk about social content I am speaking about what historically has been utilised by online publishers to draw visitors and reap CPM rewards. This traffic comes spilling from forums, Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook and niche social sites to view and interact with amazing content. It is the basic concept of creating catchy headlines, mteresting articles/media and propagating it through the web.

Businesses have shown that there are ways to make 'social' have positive returns.

Mint WePay and a host of other US-based start-ups are using social content to fuel brand recognition, customer acquisition and even corporate acquisitions. It is really not much different than the concept of optimising your newsrooms for Google News. But why, then, is there not a major gaming company with the kind of presence in the social space that the above companies share? Because gaming companies feel the need to push gaming as hard as possible, and convert every visitor into a depositor. Social traffic will not convert in the traditional sense, EVER, and this is where gaming companies lose the ROI perspective.

What it will convert in is the following:

1) Repeat visitors to whom you can drive pop-overs based on entry funnels.
2) Newsletter sign-ups.
3) Brand recognition (anyone who says this isn't important should look at the budget they are spending in London on public signage).
4) Online reputation management.
5) Improved search traffic.
6) The cross-pollination of content via Facebook and Twitter like' buttons.

"Social traffic will not convert in the traditional sense, EVER, and this is where gaming companies lose the ROI perspective."


Each of these items can easily have a dollar amount assigned to it within your organisation, as it is likely you are already driving downloads via these methods in some fashion. Except, the volume available via social media is staggering, even outside of the US where adoption of social media is growing.

Facebook

Beyond being a growing phenomenon, this social platform has become the 'walled garden' of the new decade. People live and breathe within this portal and, unfortunately, the gaming community was not invited to the party.

Despite not being able to leverage the platform for onsite gaming, Facebook offers a lot of value to the competent marketer. This is especially true with iframes replacing FBML. The iframe replacement allows any offsite content to be pulled into Facebook pages, meaning that Flash, HTML and images can all be pulled from offsite.

Creative web teams can leverage this into off-site promotions via:

1) Newsletter sign-ups
2) Incentive-based Flash applications

The best part of this is that if you are willing to think outside of the brand box, the rewards from Facebook's demo targeted ad system and some killer content can be quite substantial. If you are willing to look outside of the onsite, direct-to-download conversion and get creative with off-brand content, you can find immense value in Facebook. With a gifted Flash developer, CSS/HTML developer and a designer, you can create extensive returns in the channel that will exceed anything being spent offline.

That is really where the pivotal point is. Stop gauging social campaigns against search. They are not search. They will not convert the same, and they are not even close to being similar in practice. Be willing to accept the fact that this is a different type of online marketing, similar, in many regards, to other online media programmes, and even nicely 'trackable'. The key difference is that in order to unlock its true value, you must be willing to interact with your customer. In essence, you must 'earn' their business.

The way to the social user's heart is through interesting content that they can share with their social graph. It is that simple, and that complex.
 
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