We all have guilty pleasures. Chocolate. Eurovision. Everything on Netflix. It’s what leads to fandom - and it’s what gives people who work with building brands, products and services the chance to do what they love. At Observify HQ, one of our big loves is gaming.
So much so that our devs used their mad skills to build a special data visualisation page just for one of their faves. The game in question? Actually, it was an event - the Overwatch World Cup, which brought out the big guns at BlizzCon 2016. It’s always fascinating exploring how business intelligence and brand fit together, but let’s go with a gaming example while we’re here (we’ll try to make it relatable, we promise).
Take Battlefield 1. The current golden child of Electronic Arts/EA Dice, a simple scan of Wikipedia describes it as “the fifteenth installment in the Battlefield series, and the first main entry in the series since Battlefield 4.” Then what was the point of branding it with a “1” when there were 14 before it?!, you might ask. Well, you’d be right. Good question - add a bit of mystery, start the conversation. Which brings us to the fandom part (i.e. the conversation analytics that give you invaluable, business-critical information).
Analysing 10K worth of mentions before, after and during Battlefield 1’s release on October 21, 2016, Observify honed in the single player element of the game. As with fans of many industries, gamers often take to online communities to nut out the intricacies of a pending release. The fact that Reddit was the largest source (40% of BF1 conversation) says much - for most brands tracked by our platform, gaming or otherwise, Twitter and Instagram usually win.
Go for the big picture
There’s always a devil (or two) in the details, but never neglect to zoom out. How else will you see everything in context?
Looking at Battlefield 1, key topics picked up by our monitors revealed a focus on technicalities. Fan chatter anticipated lag time following netcode issues with past releases (“EA should be on top of this after all the netcode issues with Battlefield 4”). Post launch, the community had for the most part accepted that lag is an occupational hazard (“DICE made a [sic] amazing job working together with the community in the BF4 CTE, where the Netcode was fixed to the best possible state. Lag issues aren't avoidable completely in a MP game… So for the fact that all these factors are in place, THE GAME IS RUNNING INCREDIBLE [sic] WELL.”
Another discussion point, the newly introduced Battlefield Companion app, was fairly well-received overall. Enhancing its predecessor, the Battlelog Mobile App, it was often met with player confusion. The conversation here, however, was a positive space where people gave advice and explanations.
Engage your community
Be sure that you’re on top of talking points. Your community is a goldmine where feedback is concerned - and users tend to let loose behind the veil of anonymity.
Single Player mode became a major subject among the BF1 community, particularly on forums. 6 in 10 mentions on this topic were positive in sentiment, which is even more significant when considering that the majority of fans have historically rubbished previous story modes.
The World War I setting was the centrepiece of the game design, and EA Dice’s blood, sweat and tears did not go unnoticed. User commentary ranged from praising how the look and feel of the game created an unparalleled experience - to nitpicking nuances (“EA is wrong - that would not have been considered a melee weapon in the First World War!”).
Even more telling are insights that shed light on user behaviour and churn; how does BF1’s Single Player mode compare to other games? Which issues are deal breakers? For example, discussing the game Titanfall, BF1 fan JusticeforPluto writes, “I like this better than CoD, and that's no small feat. Quickly becoming my go to FPS OVER BF1, which amazes me.”
Take the good with the bad - and build
Monitoring the conversation around your product, brand and service clearly helps to refine your use case faster than day parting and surveys. It’s a direct line to your customers and users - how they engage with you, what they feel, when they feel it, and more. Most importantly, it’s taken straight from the horse’s mouth.
- Analyse the major issues in your community - look for trends
- Engage users who offer critiques - don’t ignore ‘negative’ conversation
- Acknowledge praise from fans - celebrate what’s working
- Develop this user feedback into relevant, genuine content and stories - let your fans know that you listen
Whether you’re in eSports, software-as-a-service, run your own dining franchise or produce bespoke pet food solutions, knowing the tone of your fans’ conversations is key. If you’re not doing so already, it’s time to play around with social and web monitoring. It only helps you see your pride and joy with fresh eyes, and when is that ever a bad thing?