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Social media in the Russian market offer brands the broadest opportunities to look for and cover their target audience, as well as to maintain communication with it. If you created a fly-by-night game, social media is definitely not for you, but if you are going to develop your game and promote it in the long run, social media accounts will become a key channel for its promotion along with the website.
In our previous article 'Guideline for SMM Strategy Development in the Russian Market', we described all steps that one needs to make to execute a plan for brand social media promotion. Here we will turn our attention to ins and outs of creation, maintenance, and promotion of public pages in the game segment.
In the Russian market, this question is of special interest because of the fact that the market has its own peculiar digital ecosystem. The most popular social networking service is VKontakte. Apart from it, Russians actively use Instagram, Odnoklassniki, TikTok, and Facebook. However, Twitch and YouTube are top media for collaboration with streamers and gaming bloggers here, just like in the whole world. In order to understand where to create a thematic group or a community, it is important to know the target audience of every social networking site and to analyze communities of competitors in terms of coverage and engagement.
VKontakte has the largest audience in Russia (71 million Russians use it monthly and 38 million daily). It is VKontakte where the most inclusive communities of gamers are created. They either do not exist at all on other social media or are small and ill-developed. But here one can find communities of both AAA games (Warface, GS:GO, World of Tanks) and FTP and casual games. That is why we recommend including VKontakte into the game communication strategy in the Russian market as a matter of course.
Besides, we would like to specifically note Discord, a messenger that is popular among Russian gamers. In April 2019, Discord made the top four visited desktop messengers in Russia, according to Mediascope. Nearly 1 million Russians aged 12-64 used it within the month. In particular, Discord edged out Skype on this measure (750K). Discord enabled text and voice communication in and out of the game. Communities of Russian gamers are sociable and collaborative, so opportunities to communicate with users of this platform can also be actively utilized in game promotion in the market.
We recommend creating public pages even before a game is released in the market. As social media pages perform a familiarizing and informative function, apart from the entertaining one, it will be optimal to start developing a community and launching an advertising campaign 2-3 months prior to the game release and to actively promote it during 2-3 months after its start. After that, marketing gradually becomes supporting. However, it does not matter that you can stop working on content. Posts should be published further in accordance with the content plan, while the advertising budget, as a rule, is cut back on a bit until the next release of major game updates (if applicable, of course).
Think over regular sections that will help the community keep up activeness of players. You can write in-game world news, provide situational content, renew manuals, describe updates, arrange competitions, discussions, and talks, give information on publications about and media mentions of the game.
Create materials about how to avoid known mistakes, use gear, or get loot. These can be manuals or knowledge hubs, FAQ or how-to guides.
Let your followers fill in game guides, submit lifehacks, and propose content for publication. In general, try your best to encourage users to create UGC: playthrough videos, screens of funny moments or just any in-game situations, walkthrough lifehacks etc.
Along with other digital advertising channels, social media afford the promotion of game apps in such a way so that a user could immediately switch to a store and start downloading a game. Moreover, often it is them that let you get in touch with a budget-friendly and active audience. In broad terms, we can single out three key formats of social media promotion:
1. Targeted advertising with an option to follow a group, go to a website to a store at once, and install a game.
2. Advertising in third-party publics. An ad that you will publish must be interesting for the very readers of a certain public page. Analyze what posts were published before and produced good engagement indicators. Do not forget that we come into communities for information, not for the game. That is why try to convert a direct ad of your message into an exciting story. If you are going to place your ad in several publics, there must be an individual post for every separate group, taking into account the community specifics that we mentioned above.
3. Promotion via game bloggers and streamers. Here it is very important to choose bloggers who play games of the same genre as your project. Besides, it is worth paying attention to streamers' presentation: just watch several videos, and you will understand how one or another blogger will be able to present your game and will evaluate how advantageous it will look on their channel. To let advertising integration look as native as possible, commit this issue to the very streamers. There must be no texts learned by heart or walkthrough guidance.
It is important to consider one more crucial point: collaboration of game brands with bloggers is possible not on all social media. For example, VKontakte simply lacks a concept of a blogger. However, there are thematic publics there, and you can conduct an effective game marketing campaign exactly via interaction with them. On the other hand, there is Instagram that is, in fact, an influencer platform, but cooperation with bloggers of this social network will unlikely be effective for the promotion of a game brand.
In the first days of the release, your followers will be waiting for your immediate response. And you will get the biggest number of messages at this particular time. Even if you have a separate user support portal, they will still be messaging you on social media. Therefore, be up for regular moderation of social media. It is best to allocate a separate team member for this role, who will be responsible for prompt feedback in chat and comments. Usually, this function is imposed either on a content manager who actually writes all posts in the public or on a separate community manager who only replies to questions and comments of users.
It is your first users and first reviews that they will write that can predetermine a lot. For instance, if users gave a game 7 marks out of 10, and then someone appears who will want to praise you, they will highly likely give you 8, and those who decided to write an offending review will give 5 or 6. If you have 9 marks in the very beginning, this is a different story—then displeased users will more likely give you 7 or 8. Besides, players will be able to forgive you a lot if you help them solve an issue or just show compassion for them during their first address.
As we have already told above, VKontakte is a very popular SNS in Russia for maintaining game communities. However, you can also successfully use other social media such as YouTube, Odnoklassniki, Twitch, TikTok, or Facebook. Your game does not need to be present on all social media. In order to understand what SNS to choose for creation and development of your community, as well as what strategy to align with to enter the Russian market, consult RMAA Games, game marketing experts in Russia.
About the Author
Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog