Originally Published on Techdirt.
There is a lot that can be said about being open and honest with your fans. Sure those fans can be pushy and complain a lot, but amongst all that, there is a real opportunity to connect with your fans and help them build up greater love and respect for you and your brand. We have seen many cases in which doing so has helped build a stronger following and bring in a lot more revenue in the process.
Despite this strong evidence for the power of being open and honest, there are still some companies that feel the need to avoid talking to the public. Any time a fan asks a question about anything, most often the responses are either silence or some form of “No Comment.” When fans hit that kind of brick wall, they feel as if the company doesn’t care about them and are less likely to be engaged in the future. Such responses can also lead to further complaints from the community as well as lost sales.
When the complaints reach a certain threshold, then it reaches the ears of those who have a platform in which to speak and reach a large group of listeners. So when a site like Kotaku gets on its soap box to complain about game publishers who will not engage with the community, then you know a lot of people are listening. The whole article is worth the read but I want to highlight a couple of the suggestions that Kotaku gives at the end.
- Answer questions. As many as you can. Questions are not your enemy. We’re all here because we all love video games.
- Don’t be afraid to tease games that are coming in the far future. We love teases. And we won’t even mind if those games get cancelled, as long as you don’t lie or pretend they’re not.
- Just talk to us. Explain the logic behind your decisions. Help us understand you. Help us relate. Help us empathize.
They have a couple others that are a bit more specific, but these three cut to the heart. Answer questions, don’t be afraid to tease, and just talk. All these things are important to fans and potential customers. These are all part of that process in getting people to not just like what you do produce, but like you as a person or a company. How can they like you if you don’t engage with them? It is this engagement that promotes the transparency needed to increase sales, too.
On the other hand, by ignoring your fans you lose the power to control the conversation as well. We highlighted a story last year in which Nintendo made a very weak gesture at engaging with fans. Unfortunately, there was no such engagement and the fans took control of the conversation. Since Nintendo failed to control the conversation by being engaged, the fans began to complain about policy decisions they felt were not ideal. By not engaging, Nintendo lost a lot of good will that day. Had Nintendo actually taken the time to answer and ask questions as Kotaku recommends, they would have had a far better promotion at the time.
As more and more companies learn how to be properly engaged with their respective communities, we should see a lot more successes like those we highlight on a regular basis, such as Louis CK, Amanda Palmer and Double Fine. These people have taken the time to really build a relationship with their fans. A relationship that leads to those fans parting with their money to see more art created. Isn’t that what is important?