Content Marketing E-Reputation Web Marketing

Word of mouth marketing in the Internet age

An example of Star Citizen community management

What’s the cheapest channel to improve our product or brand awareness? The answer is the users. In the internet age, people talk everything on the internet, whether good or bad. Forums and social media became an essential part of a company’s marketing strategy. So, finding an efficient way to manage the community organized by these platform became extremely important.

The community management of the game Star Citizen provides us a great example. Star Citizen is an upcoming space sim video game developed by Cloud Imperium Game (CIG), it is also known as one of the world’s most successful crowdfunding project.

Between October 10th and November 19th, 2012, the Star Citizen project (www.robertsspaceindustries.com) raised a whopping $4,104,189, using a WordPress crowdfunding plugin. And the Kickstarter campaign, running between October 19th and November 19th, 2012, raised an additional $2,134,374.[i] On November 17, 2012, two days before campaign closure, the game achieved the record for highest crowdfunded game projects with over US$4. 2 million.[ii]

Since 10 December, 2015 star citizen has raised $99,846,411 with more than one million backers, and the funding amount has continued rising about $30,000 per day.

Star Citizen fund raise campaign,an example of word of mouth marketing

Figure 1: Star Citizen fund raise campaign (screenshot of Star Citizen fund rising page )

How did they realise such an incredible job without any traditional commercial advertising? The key contribution is their community. The sponsor of Star Citizen is the well-known game developer Chris Roberts, who have accumulated a huge amount of followers by his previous space sim series Wing Commander in 1990s. And based on these hard core members, CIG created a very dynamic community. The way CIG did this show us some important aspects of word of mouth marketing.

A high quality product, and keep focus on it

Space sim video game is certainly not the mainstream of the video game industry. Chris Roberts spent decades on this subject and keep producing high quality product, this grants him the credit in this area. And the high quality of the game which was shown in the demo video and player’s real play also help the fund raising. The same idea for other industry, for instance, Apple also implements the same strategy of focus on one specific area. Focus also brings the company loyal backers.

Organize the users and keep them active

For a company with a lot of loyal backers, encouraging them actively and in an organized manner is the crux of the matter. A platform such as a forum or a social media group can be a quite useful tool. As our example, CIG employ several staff to organize and manage their official forum, and they encourage backers have any kind of discussion about the game and share their thoughts with others. If companies want the users to be active members, they should be active about it. CIG will chose the MVP of the week from the forum posts and show his work in the official news video every week, and grant the writer a rare badge. And they also generate new content on their official site every day to enrich their website and provide a discussion topic to their users.

Generate a sense of participation for users

After building the highest quality product as the foundation of a company’s word of mouth marketing and create an active community. The next step is to enhance the community’s group cohesiveness and encourage them to share and disseminate the information about the product and the brand image to others. To do this, we need our users to take into our product designing or content generating process. Which means we need to change from a push style to a pull style and listen to our users need. In the case of Star Citizen, at the beginning of the development, they demonstrated several models of star ship design in the game and ask their users to poll for their favorite one. And they even organized a competition to bring a ship which designed by the user into the game. During all these processes, at the same time user participate in the ship design, they are willing to share the progress they make with others, and then the awareness improves.

New channels of word of mouth marketing

Beside the forum and social media, recently years, that are several new channels that useful, to interact with users and allow users to disseminate product and brand information. Twitch is a good example for these channels. Twitch is a live streaming video platform, people broadcast their game or other experience to others, visitors can interact with streamer and other visitors by comment simultaneously. Also, different kind of tech evaluation for the product made by fans or third party can be a good catalyst to the word of mouth marketing.

[i] Source: From 0 to Light Speed in 3 months – Crowdfunding A Video Game

[ii] Source: US$4. 2 million milestone of Star Citizen

 

About the author

Chenchen Shen

Chenchen Shen

Student in Digital Business Strategy at Grenoble Business School.

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