22 June 2017 | 38 Comments
I’ve always spent a fair amount of time representing Stonemaier Games on Facebook, Twitter, BoardGameGeek, YouTube, Kickstarter comments, and various blogs (including this one). But with my move away from Kickstarter and the growth of our game-specific Facebook groups, I’ve learned a lot about social media this year through observations, tests, and experiments.
Here’s what I’ve learned in no particular order. Most of this is focused on creators and entrepreneurs, but some of these notes apply to anyone who wants to improve their interactions on social media.
- Presence matters. I’ve seen conversations take a turn for the worse really quickly on social media, particularly Facebook, BGG, and the Kickstarter comments. Studies show that untended behavior can allow things to spiral out of control. So while I don’t participate in every conversation about my games on social media, I consistently make it known that I’m there.
- You control the welcome mat. I’ve observed and heard from a some people that they don’t feel comfortable asking rules questions in the Scythe Facebook group because they’ll be chided by fans for not reading the rulebook. Sometimes they’ve asked such questions in the past and haven’t liked the response (see #3). But often these people have never tried to ask a question because they’re afraid. Ever since I started hearing that, I’ve significantly increased how I monitor threads with rules questions, as I want to make sure people (including myself) answer the question in a welcoming, inclusive way. I’d much rather have people ask than continue to play the wrong way.
- How to ask a question and not get a defensive response. This is related to the point above, but this tip is directed at people who ask questions in forums. You have some control over the tone you set by your question. For example, if you have a rules question and you phrase it as, “The rules don’t say if….” then you’re likely to have a bunch of people point out exactly where in the rules it says the thing that you missed. However, you could instead say, “I’m a little confused about how this works. Can you help clarify it?” You’re much more likely then to get a warm response.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. I hardly ever use LinkedIn, but Richard Bliss’ recent podcast inspired me to take a few minutes to update my profile. I think the entire podcast is worth listening to, but if you want to jump to his 5 tips, you can skip to the final 7-8 minutes.
- Ban as little as possible. If you’re an admin in a Facebook group, you have the power to ban anyone in the group permanently. I’ve made the mistake of banning someone when a quick private conversation could have cleared the air, so I’d recommend using this power sparingly. There’s a difference between someone who doesn’t know how to express an opinion (more about that in #6) and someone who wants to light a conversation on fire and watch it burn. There’s some really interesting information about this in a recent Ludology podcast with a League of Legends player psychology lead.
- The way you present opinions matters. This is for anyone on social media. I started thinking about it a few months ago when Peter Hayward of Jellybean Games posted this image (see right), and I’ve come back to it a number of times since then. I don’t even think we necessarily need to use “I think” and “I feel” before everything we say, but it makes a big difference to say things as an individual instead of as an authority. It’s the difference between saying “I don’t like provel cheese” and “Provel cheese is terrible.” Yes, we understand that they’re both opinions, but one is about you while the other is about the cheese and everyone who likes the cheese.
- You can change the tone of most conversations. The other day, Scythe won the Origins 2016 Game of the Year award, and a few minutes later there were posts on Facebook about it. Those threads quickly turned into a mix of people shouting either that Scythe deserved it or didn’t deserve it. I never like this type of conversation, no matter who created the thing people are discussing. There’s no reason to disparage things you don’t like or to force others to acknowledge that they’re wrong about not liking the thing you like. Anyway, so, I posted a lengthy comment about my favorite things about all the other games that were nominated. And it seemed to work. The threads turned into a celebration of things people love instead of opinion dodgeball.
- Blocking vs. muting. As you can probably tell, I try to keep things positive. Part of that is for my own self-preservation–I simply don’t have the emotional constitution to deal with people who are always complaining, insulting, or bemoaning. The topic could be anything–it’s far from limited to things I create. So for a while I was too trigger-happy with blocking those people on Facebook, even after reading a single negative post or comment. I’ve stopped doing that because, well, people deserve better than to have one comment represent their character as a whole. Instead, I keep an eye on patterns, and if there is a consistent string of negative behavior, I’ll mute that person (they can still see things I write). Very rarely do I block anyone on Facebook these days.
- If you’re a true fan, don’t put on the blinders. There are Stonemaier fans who tell me that they think that I/Stonemaier can do no wrong and that they’ll blindly buy and support anything we make. I cringe whenever I hear that. I mean, I appreciate that level of passion, but to me, the best fan is someone who holds me accountable in a healthy way. If I make a bad game, they shouldn’t buy it. If I act unprofessionally on social media, I don’t want them to rush to my defense. Instead, reply to me (publicly or privately) in a judicious way so I can be the creator you deserve. This also prevents certain threads from turning into cesspools of clashing loyalties.
- It never hurts to tag. Yesterday I wrote a post about Charterstone, and I complimented a few different people in the post. They wouldn’t have known about it unless I tagged them. Conversely, I’ve noticed that Facebook’s notification system has gotten worse and worse. I hardly ever get notifications when someone has commented on posts I make to the Stonemaier Games page, so every few days I go on there to check to see if someone has commented on a recent thread. The remedy for this–particularly if you have a question–is to tag the applicable party. Tag notifications are typically quite good, whether you’re tagging me or my page. Same goes on BoardGameGeek or Twitter.
Have you learned anything interesting from social media lately?