In every product company there are specialists whose responsibilities lie with online communication and user/customer support. Community, SMM, support, ORM, content management… The list of responsibilities expands daily, but many people still wonder who and what community managers are and how their job is different from, say, call center operators.
I’ve been working at Plarium for over two years. My team covers both the Tech Support Specialists and Community Managers alike. The work of the Tech Support Team is more or less understandable, so I would like to speak today about 9 specific features that make the job of Community Managers stand out among other jobs within the game industry.
Approaching users individually
Community Managers treat every user as a unique individual, and rightly so! The community of game followers can be compared with a fish tank. You must watch the temperature, level of oxygen, protect your fish from disease, clean the glass regularly and take care of water plants.
Newcomers are very sensitive to the overall atmosphere in the community. If the community is unhealthy and unfriendly with lots of trolls, attracting new users and keeping the old ones is very hard if not impossible.
Staying faithful to setting
Setting is the set of features specific to a game world. When working with the community, it’s important to season your replies with elements of setting generously, but reasonably. Everything matters: the main character, the style, the artwork, the soundtrack. It doesn’t matter what the product (game) is – a special unique setting can be devised for any product or brand, depending on the interests of your target audience are. The stories behind the product sell better than the product itself.
Live feedback from brand reps means more to users that it’s given credit for. In Plarium game communities, developers talk to users directly through game characters. A character that gives players tasks in the game can address any user, answer their questions, encourage them, or give useful tips and advice. Introducing a moderating character also helps maintain a healthy environment and increases users’ loyalty. A simple friendly tip and a few words of support are very important parts of community management, unfortunately often ignored.
Working in public in real-time is never easy. A community manager must mind the way he or she talks at all times, with their replies must be concise and polite. The price of a single mistake is very high and the thread is being watched by tens and even hundreds of thousands of players at any time.
All text is thoroughly proofread and edited before being posted in order to avoid unwanted, potentially harmful or offensive content.
Not Feeding Negative Behavior
The so-called ‘trolls’ are a large and inevitable part of every community. Working with a community can sometimes be very stressful not only because of high pressure and a challenging workload, but also due to tons of negative feedback and sometimes personal insults. A timely reaction to trolling and flaming is very important, sometimes you need to ‘purge’ the community and ban users that violate the community’s policy and target other players and moderators. If you’re considering a platform for a gaming community, turn to those that offer pre-moderation of commentaries.
Working with moderators
Plarium manages the communities with over 200,000 active players. No matter how amazing the main character is, no one can manage a community this big alone.
We are helped by the moderators – active players who volunteer to contribute to the community and the project. A good community manager must learn to organize and manage: train moderators, allocate tasks and responsibilities, supervise and control results of the work.
In order to make a community manager’s life easier and to optimize the system, we build the moderating process with a hierarchy. We invest plenty of time and effort to train our moderators, but it pays off when it comes to recruiting new members. Of course, moderators are given bonuses from time to time. Most of them are happy to help out for free, but good work must be rewarded.
In Plarium community managers create 80% of the content posted in official communities. So ideally they must combine the skills of a copywriter and community manager. Texts must keep as close to the original in-game content style as possible, and cater to the audience’s taste and interests.
This is the golden rule of marketing in effect – the higher the quality of the content, the higher the engagement, and, subsequently, the viral capability of the post. Users come to gaming communities not only for entertainment, but also for news and information.
Working with brand advocates
For healthy and successful community growth it is very important to establish friendly relationships with brand advocates – independent users that stay loyal to the company or its products.
Usually these people do not get any bonuses from the company. But it’s essential to appreciate their loyalty and thank them for staying with the brand, and show them how much they mean to the community.
Providing developers with feedback
One of the key responsibilities of a community manager is to gather and analyze user feedback in communities, and present this feedback to developers. Very often community members generate a steady flow of suggestions and ideas on how the product can be improved. However, it’s very important to sort and prioritize valuable feedback, and pick out not only the most useful suggestions to present to developers.
Article by Denis Kobzan, Senior Community Manager in Plarium.