Community Challenge – Communication Gaps

There are some community communication gaps that I’m sure everyone is struggling with right now and they all stem from the choice of medium.

Let’s start old-school; Email.
I find myself over-explaining that if you need help with your private account matters, posting your username and password on Facebook is probably not going to net you the desired result. Instead I have to instruct our players to use email to talk to our help team. This presents a problem since most of our players don’t actually use email, let alone give us a real email address when they sign up for the game. So they’re stuck without help and I’m stuck repeating myself. (also see previous post about the technologically inept)
The gap here lies in communicating the need for, and helping with the understanding of privacy requirements.

Let’s move forward; Social Media
Yes I hate that term as much as anyone, Social Media is neither social, nor media, but that’s a rant for another day. My community is fragmented, fractured if you will, between different shards of communication medium. My Twitter users are not the same audience as my Facebook users, and let’s face it, no one’s on Google or Pheed. Pinterest is its own animal and will not be let out of its cage at the moment.

Twitter is a much more immediate, succinct and (in my opinion) rewarding medium. Conversations can be had but they are in the moment, relevant to the here and now and have a much more ‘live’ interactive feeling to them. It’s a group of people at a very large party who are having a wonderful engaging conversation that evolves and dissolves naturally. It can be high maintenance, but usually only over the short-term.

Facebook is the speaker on the podium who makes an announcement and then sits back to watch others have the discussion, only piping in once in a while to redirect the conversation.  Information on Facebook lingers which can be used to your advantage but it certainly requires more maintenance over the long-term.  People will continue to comment on things you said months ago, and you tend to look at them like someone who is late to class.

The gap here lies in effectively communicating using these different methods, with differing audiences who need different take-away and timeliness from those messages.

And where does that leave our underage players who cannot use Facebook, Twitter or Email? I’m afraid they’re struggling and I’m challenged to aid them.

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Community Challenge – Offline

So this week was full of challenges both for myself and for my community.

We had two unexpected and two planned downtimes this week. That’s much more than usual, so the challenge for me was simply disseminating information as fast and as broadly as possible.  The challenge for our players was to be patient while we rushed around like crazy trying to fix it.

Social media is obviously the go-to resource when not only my game, but my website, are offline, but that has its own inherent problems too since the bulk of my players are underage for using those mediums.

So what do I do? Well I do have the option of our emergency game launcher page that contains the twitter feed – oh no wait, when the web site is down, I can’t switch to that, so that’s out. I can post – oh no wait, forums are down too, can’t do that. Huzzah! Fansites! Well my fansites beat me to the punch on posting the outage so that’s taken care of – and while I’ve done all I can, there’s still a flood of unhappy players who are confused that they’re unable to log in. Thankfully the outages where short (20 – 30 mins each) so in many cases they went unnoticed.

So in short, my challenge this week was not being able to communicate with the players when both the game and web were offline. I may revisit the error message that appears when the web is down and see if the Twitter feed can appear there, at least it can be read by all and updated remotely.

Anyone have any other ideas?

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See you at Digital Kids Con!

Now in their 6th year, Digital Kids Conference (formerly Engage!) 2012 takes place April 25-26, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Digital Kids provides companies the critical information they need to reach digital kids and connected youth through online and mobile technologies. Coverage will include social games, mobile and tablet apps, virtual worlds, social media and marketing and more.

Digital Kids Con

See you there!

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