Staying Social To Improve Player Lifecycle

Staying Social To Improve Player Lifecycle

Sharon McFarlane of Crystal Content looks at the different ways in which social media can be used to extend the lifecycle of players, and why it’s becoming an increasingly important retention tool.

Published 6th November 2015

A huge emphasis is now being placed on social media as a way to reach players and retain them, and with good reason. Players are the lifeblood of the gaming industry and it can be a challenge to bring in new ones but at times it can be even harder to retain the ones you have. Extending the lifecycle of the player, from sign-up to lapsing, can increase revenue, reduce marketing costs and improve sites as a whole. One such way to keep players coming back for more is to be social and engage with fans across different social media platforms. People are interacting with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus more than ever before, this means these are the perfect tools to reach out to existing players. On top of this, they’re also reacting – and interacting - more to brands across all social media outlets. This valuable way of engaging players can change a disinterested player into a more active one, and using a range of different techniques, a player that may be coming towards the end of the player cycle can be retained. When a player engages and is active with a brand in these realms, this increases the rapport they have with that brand. Directing players from the site to a social media platform may initially seem counterproductive but this is the way in which this outreach starts. Sharing images and engaging questions here makes the brand seem more relatable, which in turn improves the player-operator relationship. They may enjoy seeing the posts that are published on each of these, inspiring an association between the brand and their happiness. This can be a potential minefield though, as just one misplaced image or off colour joke can lead to outrage quickly if the brand isn’t attuned to the current social climate. We’ve all seen clueless brands become the subject of PR disasters due to posting an image that offends players, so it’s essential to understand what not to post. Not all attention is good attention in the social media world and one player’s dislike of a brand’s post can quickly snowball. It’s necessary to know what the brand stands for, and although online gambling is strictly for adults, many brands choose to protect themselves by keeping their content squeaky clean, understanding that one person’s joke is another person’s reason to not associate with a company any more.

Another emerging trend we are seeing is for a player to contact a brand via Facebook for convenience. Answering questions speedily and personably via this channel again helps to cement the brand/player relationship and can transform a negative experience into a positive one. When a player reaches out to a brand in this way, they’re giving them a chance to keep or lose their business, depending on how the situation is handled. They may also decide to post their feelings towards an operator publicly and, good or bad, these must of course be handled delicately, given their potential to go viral, having a massive effect on the public image of a site, for better or worse. When a negative experience is shared in this way, it can be appealing to want to hide the post, but this doesn’t get to the root of the problem and an unhappy player is one that will ultimately leave. It can also be seen as an admission of guilt on the part of the operator, and reeks of bad customer service. There’s no need to hash the problem out in a public forum, but posting publicly that they’re in the process of resolving the issue with the player can do wonders for a brand’s image. A Facebook page or Twitter profile also acts as a form of advertising within the existing player base and is also seen by those who are not followers. Operators can incentivise their players on these platforms with exclusive codes and deals, which will also increase the viewership of these promotions. Not everyone will look at a brand’s promotional section every day, but most log-in to Facebook or Twitter at least once a day. Utilising trends also gets the brand name out there into the public forum and can pique interest from players.

This visibility is free to those who know how to use it, giving it an edge over traditional marketing, and can be tracked down to every last customer. By using unique codes and links, the percentage of players that come from a social media platform to the site can be tracked. This begins a trial and error process that aims to pinpoint what works most effectively. Every player is different when it comes to what they want to see and each demographic will react to these posts in a unique way. From nostalgia to jokes, operators must work to find out what is a hit with their players and what is a miss. There may not be a magic formula to achieve this, but with research and experience the process goes much quicker and is more successful. This also enables operators to remain front of mind when players make that decision to game, working in the same way as a television advertisement that pops up during leisure time to remind the population that they exist and triggering a psychological urge to play, only far more cost effective. It can also encourage further deposits and inform existing players about changes to the site, including the addition of new games. This way of staying current and relevant to the gamer base and in players’ memories can therefore drive up the volume of returning players. Giving away a targeted incentive also works well across these platforms and can bring wavering players back into the fold. This needn’t cost much as it can be credited as a bonus, at minimal cost to the operator. This can be just the thing that they need to make that next deposit and continue playing, keeping them around for longer and retaining their business. It also has a knock-on effect to a brand’s popularity as friends of users will see their broader interaction with the brand on their own news feeds. They may be players on other sites or newbies to the gaming world, but either way this extra exposure can bring new and current customers on site. Lapsed players may deactivate their account or simply not play, but the chances are they won’t immediately unlike or unfollow a brand. When they next see a post from the brand they may be encouraged to return by a new offer or competition on the page. Social media is now a part of just about every person on the planet’s day-to-day life, and this captive audience is waiting to hear from a brand. While it can be a steep learning curve for those not experienced with these platforms, the rewards can be overwhelming.

“Directing players from the site to a social media platform may initially seem counterproductive but this is the way in which the outreach starts.”

“Many brands choose to protect themselves by keeping their content squeaky clean, understanding that one person’s joke is another person’s reason to not associate with a company any more.”

“By using unique codes and links, the percentage of players that come from a social media platform to the site can be tracked.”

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