Football Manager is a cult game. No question. Players from across the world plough in hundreds of hours of gaming time each year. Countless tales exist of people getting suited and booted to play cup finals in the game and comedian Jason Manford has even written a routine about it. When something is so popular, how do you continue to raise awareness in fresh and innovative ways and reach new audiences?
The making of Football Manager has always been a collaborative effort. Fans of the game have been used as ‘scouts’ to help the developers gather information on footballers from across the globe. While people have flooded forums with their thoughts on what can be improved and what they would like to see in the game.
Sports Interactive, the makers of Football Manager, appear to recognise the value of this community – making them a key part of their efforts to promote the upcoming release of Football Manager 2020. Miles Jacobson, the Director of Football Manager, has held regular Twitter polls asking fans what features they would like revealed, and as the promo ramped up Sports Interactive turned to YouTubers and popular gamers to generate interest in the game.
The guys at SI/@FootballManager
have asked me to announce a new official feature for Football Manager 2020.
You’ll now receive a congratulatory message from the board on any and all award wins #FM20Features
Should come in handy for my new Youtube series…
— Ben Carr / DoctorBenjyFM (@DoctorBenjy) October 16, 2019
— Football Manager (@FootballManager) October 16, 2019
Today’s FM20 Twitpoll Roulette is brought to you by @DairyMilkIn Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy. Not that they’ve paid me for the tweet (I don’t do that), just because I like it. Even if my waistline doesn’t.
— Miles Jacobson (@milesSI) October 16, 2019
By taking this approach Football Manager has achieved several things that every campaign should look to do:
• Generated awareness and whipped up excitement
• Showed their fans and customers that they are valued
• Received third-party advocacy
The key here is the brand community. By leveraging their already existing fans, they’ve managed to spread their own messages further, made their community feel like key cogs in the product development and feel like they’ve actually been listened to.
While many brands are fighting over themselves to associate themselves with the world’s biggest influencers, it’s the micro influencers within your community that will have the most valuable impact. They are clearly passionate, are much more likely to actively support the company and the news it shares, and this excitement only serves to excite or persuade their own followers.
While this is a strategy that will clearly work in consumer markets, there is no reason why B2B companies cannot work with their customers and their social media followers in order to build their own strong communities. The size of the community may be much smaller, particular in more niche industries, but arguably this can be turned into an advantage – a small, active audience is likely to be tight-knit and will hold a strong interest in their field.
This tactic can also be a great way of identifying particularly active or happy supporters. Once identified, it could be possible to use these people, or businesses, in case studies or even media opportunities.
As we go forward, companies should look more at how they can work with their customers and integrate these relationships into their PR and marketing plans. Not only will it help you speak directly to an engaged audience, but you could well be building your very own set of brand advocates.