This is the concluding part on a profile of social gaming as a phenomenon. While the first part was about social gaming beyond Facebook, the second part was mostly about the importance of platforms in social gaming. This post deals with the content strategy and distribution strategy for social gaming.
Content Strategy for Social Gaming
A site’s content strategy must be focused on developing a portfolio of games that are the best fit for its users. The portfolio instead of featuring games of all genre should focus on games that have specific behavioral deployments. In terms of gaming content, one needs to cater to the following guidelines:
Appeal to the site’s core demographic.
Promote the behaviors that are key to the site’s appeal — whether that is flirting, keeping up with friends, or gathering around a particular theme.
Have already proven to be engaging.
Are continually optimized and refreshed to retain users.
Great content takes significant skill and resources to build, and attracting quality developers can be difficult for smaller sites. In addition, it’s important to realize that many games have a limited shelf life, so new content must be continually added in order to keep a site’s social gaming ecosystem vibrant. For these reasons, content acquisition is a critical step that requires ongoing focus and commitment.
Social Gaming Distribution strategy
Social networks have three methods for driving traffic to social games:
Premier placement: Not only creating a dedicated section for social games, but also implementing hooks for those games into a site’s features such as profile pages, activity feeds, and the site’s main navigation.
Ongoing promotion: A site will dedicate high profile real estate to promote game launches, in-game events, and other calls to action that drive traffic into the games.
Viral notification channels: A site will allow social games to have reasonably unfettered access to a site’s communication channels including user-to-user messaging, invitations, and activity feeds.
A site must use all of these methods extensively in order to build its base of social game DAUs (Daily Active Users), which are key to driving revenue.
When it comes to social games, social networks often make the mistake of copying what Facebook is doing today without recognizing that Facebook has the benefit of massive success on its side and can afford to make decisions that dampen the ubiquity or virality of its platform.
Instead, sites should look to what Facebook did in the early days of its platform to make applications an ubiquitous part of its experience or take lessons from smaller social networks. There are plenty of good examples of smaller sites like My Yearbook and Fubar which are consistently and continuously making made social gaming and virtual goods a central part of their strategy. Those examples will help companies understand how social games can transform the engagement and monetization potential of their social media sites.