The games industry and social media in Scandinavia

English

The games industry is global which is amazing, but it also comes at a price. Often games developers and publishers forget about the different territories that make up their global market. A perfect example is Scandinavia, though you could easily replace it with, let’s say, Australia. Millions of gamers live in the Nordic countries yet even some of the biggest developers and publishers often disregard the countries on social media platforms.

This is somewhat understandable considering that most gamers speak English and are able to use an international page on Facebook or understand tweets from an international Twitter account. However, social media isn’t just about providing news about your recent game or promote an upcoming game in a language that most people understand; it’s just as much about creating a community and making them feeling appreciated – something few developers and/or publishers manage in the Nordic countries.

A few examples of companies who’ve managed to properly use social media in the Nordic countries are Ubisoft Nordic, EA + EA Sports and to some degree Microsoft and Sony (using the PlayStation brand). Worth noting, however, is that all of them almost only use Facebook. Considering that Twitter is only now starting to gain some serious traction as a social media platform in Scandinavia, this is understandable, but ruling out Twitter will eventually annoy a certain part of your community.

Ubisoft Nordic doesn’t focus on one single country, but all of the Nordic countries, hence the Nordic in the Facebook page’s title. This works well, and despite not focusing on things relevant only for the Nordic people they still manage to have quite the success thanks to regular updates and interaction with their community. They make the community feel valued, and they manage to make the Nordic community feel important. Just ask the 85,000 people, who’ve bothered liking the site.

EA, EA Sports, Microsoft and Sony all have national pages, at least in Denmark. This makes sense considering they’re well-known brands with a huge following in each country which makes them capable of sustaining a community without having to resort to English. Especially EA (who’ve contracted an external company to manage social media) are hugely successful. Take a look at EA Sports (Denmark) – the page has almost 31,000 fans. That’s a lot in Denmark, especially given the fact that Denmark is the smallest country in Scandinavia.

Given it’s not impossible to sustain a rather decent presence on social media in Scandinavia, it’s somewhat odd that more developers and publishers aren’t willing to spend time and money on caring for their Nordic community. Take a look at Namco Bandai, Bethesda or even Rockstar. It wouldn’t make sense for them to individually focus on one country like EA, but it would make a lot of sense if they bothered creating a Nordic Facebook page to cultivate their Nordic communities like Ubisoft Nordic has done so far.

Several companies often have external companies handling distribution, PR and marketing in the Nordic countries which apparently makes them convinced that social media isn’t important, or at least something that they can take care of eventually whenever there isn’t anything else to do. It must be nice to be so naïve, but unfortunately it doesn’t exactly do your company any favours.

I’ve talked to a few marketing and PR people in the Nordic countries about why their companies tend to overlook social media, and their feedback was a bit disheartening. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like it’ll change anytime soon, but I’ve made a list partly consisting of their feedback, and what they could do about it. These points aren’t necessarily only for Facebook and Twitter, though they’re obviously the main focus. There are several different ways of using social media, and companies should choose wisely when deciding to make the jump and be present online.

1. We don’t have the time
Make the time. Having a page on Facebook or an account on Twitter or YouTube doesn’t mean that you have to update it every single minute or even every hour. The important thing is that you make the best of the time available. Quantity before quality. If you still feel like you don’t have the time, then maybe think about the people buying your games, and what would happen if they didn’t have the time to spend money on your products.

2. We don’t know what to do
Learn what to do or hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

3. We don’t have the money
If you’re a small developer you probably don’t have the money (yet), and that’s fine, but if that’s the case then you’re probably already handling social media on your own instead of hiring someone to do it, and if so, then this doesn’t apply to you. If you aren’t a small developer, then you already have the money, but are unwilling to spend it on social media because you most likely think it’s a waste of money. Wake up and smell the coffee, honey. Social media isn’t just about the money. It’s about properly investing resources in a group of potential buyers, and then wait for the return on those investments. If you invest well, you’ll get your money back at some point.

4. Social media doesn’t sell games
Maybe social media won’t lead to millions of sold copies, but that’s not really the point. The point is that you create and nurture a community, so they’ll become loyal and feel valued. Why? Because as part of a treasured community, they’re more likely to buy your games, DLC, and, most importantly, they support your company because there’s a connection between the two of you. Money can’t buy feelings, but feelings can make you money.

Social media isn’t about making your game debut as no. 1 on the latest charts, though it certainly won’t hurt your chances, but Facebook, Twitter, etc. can help help you maintain a community that’ll continue to play your games and thereby act as an ambassador for your game and especially your company. Don’t underestimate the power of people recommending your product to other people, and don’t – under any circumstances – underestimate word of mouth marketing.

5. We already have an international social media presence, why go national?
Let’s say I want to sell car. Obviously I won’t sell the car to everyone. I’ll target the proper audience, probably those who hold a valid driver’s license, and then try to convince as many of them as possible to buy my car. So far, so good, but let’s dig a bit deeper. Let’s say the car is a station wagon. It’s not fancy, it’s not pretty, but it’s rather fast for its kind and it’s practical. The more details I provide about the car, the more specific target groups become. This is where segmentation comes into play. Everyone with a driver’s license might be a potential buyer, but if I manage to tailor the details I provide about the car to the target groups’ requirements, then I’d probably be a lot more successful than if I didn’t care and just sold it as “random station wagon”.

The same goes for developers and publishers on social media. You already know there’s a global market for your company’s products, but if you make the effort to focus on the global market and national markets and then segment them, then you’ll most likely reach more people than if you did nothing.

If you choose Facebook as your social media platform, then this doesn’t mean that you have to create individual pages for every single country in Scandinavia. Someone like Bethesda would probably not have the biggest following if they simply created Bethesda Sweden, but if they made a Nordic community, like Bethesda Nordic, then it’d be completely different matter.

6. Yeah, no, I’m still not convinced
No worries, using social media for specific territories isn’t a requirement that every company should meet. Maybe you already have an amazing community that’s satisfied with your international way of handling social media, and that’s not a bad thing. Far from it, actually. But if you know how to handle social media well, then chances are that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of spending time, money and resources on maintaining a community for a specific part of the world.

(7. I’m convinced: Let’s talk.)

2 thoughts on “The games industry and social media in Scandinavia

  1. Makes me think about the official Club Nintendo forums that Bergsala had in the various countries. I really liked it, but at some point they felt that it wasn’t worth it and therefore shut the sites down. Now Danish Nintendo fans have to go to unofficial websites. They are still good – but Nintendo (Bergsala) just lost their influence on a big part of their community.

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