Social networking is everywhere; Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn and Bebo are just a few of the most prominent. Entire communities are housed in these worlds, with all participants sharing information on one topic or another. ArenaNet and its community teams have readily embraced such social networking, but is it really reaping rewards?
At present, ArenaNet tends to communicate on three fronts; through their official website, Twitter and Facebook. Amidst all this, Reddit and fan forums such as Guild Wars 2 Guru can be seen as sub groups that ArenaNet regularly and directly interact with, though primarily to clarify rather than disseminate information. The addition of the official Guild Wars 2 forum has further extended their reach, providing AreanNet (when it fully launches) a prominent outlet to really engage with their community.
I do however have concerns with their prominent use of social networking, the primary concern being that not everyone buys into or takes part in social networking. No one can deny the potential reach of social networking (this year alone, Twitter is expected to reach 500 million registered users and Facebook 1 billion) but beginning to dissect how ArenaNet’s physical Followers and Likes affect Guild Wars 2 and its sales is incredibly difficult.
At present, ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 have over half a million Likes on Facebook and 103,000 Followers on Twitter, with regular interaction from the community team to see that their numbers are ever increasing. What this all fails to demonstrate is the duplication between one individual who uses both Twitter and Facebook (and thus follows both) but also those that Follow/Like but have no active interest, those that Follow/Like for no other reason than to show support (again with no active interest) and those who don’t use either.
The use of these two fronts as a method of communication and inevitably as a means of promoting the game, to turn such Follows and Likes into sales (realistically it is surely the only purpose), is potentially a shrewd move and one evidently being exploited, but I can’t help but fear that this is at the expense of all those who don’t take part and whom have no interest in social networking.
During the first Beta Weekend Event for all those that pre-purchased the game, many of the updates on the status of the servers only went out via Twitter with a very late announcement in the technical area of the official forum (that many people couldn’t access). So why didn’t ArenaNet provide communication by the one method they knew would get the message out; Email.
It is unquestionable that the community managers spend a great deal of time drumming up business for ArenaNet through this social interaction, but would it have been an overly difficult task for one of the community managers to draft and email all those that pre-purchased?
Twitter is undoubtedly quick but as mentioned previously is limited to those that actively follow it and only so much can be said in a single tweet. Countless times during the weekend did I read of people saying the likes of “What’s happening with the servers?” “What did the tweet say?” “I can’t find the tweet” or “Can you link me to the tweet?” all this only serving to frustrate those seeking answers.
In ArenaNet’s defence their official website does have a Twitter Feed that shows you their latest tweet the problem with this however, is that instinctively I’m not sure many players or individuals seeking a status update would gravitate towards the developer site, but instead would seek answers on the game site, which doesn’t provide the same.
Perhaps I’m a stickler for the traditional, but I feel that there is a disjointed approach at the moment to the way that ArenaNet are handling their communication. It is almost as if users are being forced to Follow and Like their product (and thus sign in to both Twitter and Facebook) just to keep pace of any developments, rather than social networking accompanying traditional methods. Surely the focus should be:
- Official post on www.guildwars2.com (containing a link to an announcement and discussion thread on the official forum)
- Simultaneous Email sent to all users who have pre-purchased or subscribed to Guild Wars 2 updates, informing them of a new blog post and its subject.
- Simultaneous Tweet directing followers to the official post.
- Simultaneous Facebook announcement directing users to the official post.
Anything outside of these circumstances, such as minor community interaction (releasing unique concept art, or linking to a fan article) can remain within the confines of either Twitter or Facebook to the benefit of those who follow either.
While all this may appear time and potentially cost intensive, is it surely not the best way of ensuring a consistent approach to delivering news and updates, leaving customers and fans confident that all is being done to get the message out, rather than the current segregation that is occurring to anyone on the outside of such social networks.
What are your views on ArenaNet's use of social networking?