As I sit here in my living room, writing by candlelight, I’m both anticipating and dreading the next week or so. I’m moving again, and while there’s always been a certain amount of joy associated with finally moving to a place of one’s own in games like The Sims, the reality of it is that it’s difficult, and you’re often left with little help, lots of stuff to relocate, and a sinking feeling that you’re going to have to repeat all this in a year.
God, Shiva, Vishnu, FSM, or some other omnipotent deity willing, this will be my last move for a while.
This month has been incredibly rough. I look forward to less trying times in the future.
There’s a mess to be said for going out in a group, but there’s even more to like about getting together with old friends to tear down everything in front of you. Barret and Tifa. Mario and Luigi. Rachet and Clank and freaking Captain Qwark. Link and those freaking chickens. Getting together with those you know and love is fantastic.
This weekend, I’ll have the great honor of hosting one of my besties around Austin. A couple of weeks ago, two of my other BFFs (I have 6, for those keeping score), herded me around Houston. Every time I get together with these people, everything lines up the way it used to, all times are good, and nothing can get in the way. It’s an amazing feeling.
So, unto you, internet, I say, “Party up!” Life is not meant for soloing.
So, as some of you may have noticed, I’m now working for CerebralFix as their Social Media & Community Manager. It’s the job I molded myself for by spending hours in front of my computer. I mean, think about it: I spend a good chunk of my days talking to people I’ve never met about video games while simultaneously attempting to guide behaviors. I swear, this job is just a loot table and a raid sign up away from being just like my days as a guild recruitment officer.
Well, maybe it’s not exactly like my guild officer days. It might be nice to have /gkick functionality again. And officer chat. Oh, God, I miss officer chat…
All joking aside, while the Vanilla WoW 40-man cat-wrangling sessions taught me the bulk of what I needed to become a social media & community manager, the time I spent as a search engine marketing specialist–and mainly the search engine optimization skills I learned–taught me almost as much. It’s funny, though. As a marketer who knows that she started out as a target demographic, I see a huge divide between what an audience needs and wants and what most social media marketers do. I don’t know why it is, but for some odd reason, many of my fellow social media people think that people love advertising, that Twitter and Facebook should be filled with what amounts to commercials, and, of course, that no one would dare unfollow an account for being an annoying bot, bent on helping you earn money while you sleep or pushing something or another on you. Ri-goddamned-diculous.
My promise to the gamers out there that follow CerebralFix’s accounts: While I might encourage you to try out a different game than you’ve mentioned playing already, I will never use our community to sell you anything.
I hear it now. There’s a horrified collective gasp from my bosses and other social marketers, but I’m pretty sure a good chunk of the community managers of the internet are with me on this idea. Maybe it’s all the time we spend in forums, but community managers get to know their audience way better than the average social media “guru” (my God, I hate that term). It’s this familiarity that helps us understand and connect with people, and, while our audience may be smaller, it also tends to be more in touch.
Rules for Earning Your Community’s Trust
I have a few rules I follow to create a small band of loyal misfits:
- We are always we. To lead a community, you have to be a part of it. Never think of your audience as “them.” You should strive to be one of their friends, albeit the new one who’s a little weird and still getting to know everyone. The minute you act like a stranger walking into a club or like a member of the family, you’ve gone off the path you need. You have to be comfortable, but not so comfortable you’ve got your feet on the coffee table and you’re raiding the fridge.
- No one wants to see commercials all the time. No one wants to be sold to. Whether we’re talking about used car salesmen or gold farmers who broadcast their cheap currency in Orgrimmar, we tend to ignore anyone who tells us what we want. Forum posts and tweets often turn into glorified infomercials in the hands of marketers, but community managers avoid this. Instead, we make suggestions, but leave the final decision open to individuals. At the same time, however, we also answer questions and encourage people to share their experiences. We put very few (if any) filters in place and treat negative comments as an opportunity for improvement and growth. And we never plant shills. That’s just bad karma.
- We have a reason to care. Straight marketers often look at their social media channels as a way to push a product, sell it and be done with it. Community managers, however, recognize our channels as two-way streets. We field questions and garner repeat business by doing everything possible to create a positive experience for customers. In short, we make our audience feel valued. Positive comments are shared. Negative reviews receive public answers and queries on how to improve. Off-topic conversations are joined. For a community manager, the value of a community isn’t in the sales they generate, but in the community itself and its enthusiasm.
- We live online and in a time when we can be very vocal about our opinions. We let people have their say, and we respond as human beings. We don’t rattle off memorized nonsense, and we can’t cut a person short just because we disagree. We cannot hide behind corporate policy. We must allow both our audience and ourselves to be who we are. Otherwise, cripes, we may as well be automated programs. And who really likes talking to a ‘bot?
Three words: I did it.
After years of wondering how, I somehow unwittingly used my social media mojo to crack the code and join the gaming industry as the Social Media & Community Manager for CerebralFix, a game development studio based in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Does this mean I’ve moved again? Heck no! Austin rocks, and CerebralFix is an amazing company full of amazing Kiwis that, amazingly enough, are allowing me to work remotely while running amok on their Twitter and Facebook feeds and their blog. Our blog.
Dude, I’m a part of something that’s completely freakin’ awesome!
So, I’m in new-employee/oh-my-God-you-mean-I-get-to-make-decisions shock right now. It’s an amazing situation. I think I may have mentioned this amazingness before.
What’s so great about this job? How about the part where I get to tweet and post about video games? How about that? Yeah! The only unattainable dream I have now is the one with a huge moon bounce, one of those playpens full of plastic balls and a never-ending pizza and beer party. Oh, someday…
Anyways, let me just get this out there: Mom, I love you, but you were wrong. I can get paid to love video games and to screw around on the internet.
I’m moving to a new city. It’s a drastic change, but it’s needed.
Ever play a great RPG, but get so bogged down in the side quests that you forget what you were supposed to do in the first place? Yep. That’s my life here in Houston.
By the time this post goes live, I’ll have moved. It won’t be difficult to figure out where I am, but, all the same, I’m not spelling it out. Consider this my attempt to get everything back on track: family, work, actual goals–all that. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I stopped trying to become an editor, stopped working on my novel and, really, just stopped caring about much of anything. I need my save file wiped so I can get a do over.
Here’s hoping it all goes well.
I’m kinda of proud of myself. For the first time in 10 years, I’m single on Valentine’s Day. Moreover, I’m happy about this.
Really, I thought I’d do the desperate and lonely thing, but I’m pretty okay with this. I don’t have to buy anything for anyone. I don’t have to get dressed up while the weather is cold. No one expects anything from me. It’s pretty cool.
Truly this optimism seems strange to anyone who knew me a year ago.
Yes, I’m a couple of months late on wishing you a happy new year. It’s okay. Better late than never.
For those of you that still read and don’t know, I’m spending a lot of time on Tumblr at Skullrot. I call this my “I ❤ teh Interwebs” blog because it’s all memes and nifty stuff that could really only exist online. Things like this:
Death metal ABCs are total WIN, right?
Anyways, Here’s to a Bitchin’ 2011!
2010 gave most people I know their fair share of problems, but going into a new year is like starting a new save file: sure, you know all those problems you had are still there, but in your head, it’s a blank slate, a clean start and a chance to get it right this time.
JRPG players know what I’m talking about.
Apologies for the brevity here, and big props to AV for encouraging me to return WordPress.