For those of you who didn't know, March 30th was "International TableTop Day". It was, and is, a big deal in the game industry, and it has potential to be a lot more. Most game players look at it as just an opportunity to have fun, but the bigger call to action... that being, talk about it... can be much larger.
#tabletopday trended all day on Twitter. All day. Trending means its a hot topic, and it is much more likely to get noticed by Twitter users. Did you know that Twitter charges up to $200,000 a day to be a sponsored trend (essentially bypassing having people talking the topic at all, and just plopping a link in the top spot), up from $80,000 a couple years ago? That's because it has proven its potential to advertisers. There are currently 500 million users on Twitter, and when they start to click on that trend link you want to be seen!
Some of what follows may seem like Social Media 101 for businesses. Please don't roll your eyes or skim past the stuff you know. It might all seem like second nature to you, but if its not second nature to the next person then you're probably not getting as much mileage out of it as you could.
That's really the key point here... its not just about you being savvy to social media, having a successful social media event means you need to educate others on how to best spread your message. You should understand your objective and how to communicate that to your audience.
What is TableTop, and TableTop Day?
TableTop is a web video series started by pop culture phenomenon Felicia Day's Geek&Sundry, and hosted by Wil Wheaton. Every episode, Wil explains the rules of a game to a group of other pop culture figures and bloggers, and then they all play. Most of the games being explained and played are not really casual games. Think more "Settlers of Catan" (featured in their second episode), and less "Apples to Apples"... the former needs more explanation for a new player than the latter. Thanks to the pre-existing social media following of Felicia and Wil, the show rapidly gained fans and has been cited as a source of increased game sales.
TableTop Day was launched on February 27th. It was a call to everyone, everywhere, to play games on March 30th. Clubs, stores and libraries could submit their event locations to the TableTopDay database so others could locate them as a nearby site.
While not stated as such, TableTop Day is a way for Geek & Sundry to measure and expand their global influence. They provide the event and some light instructions, and let their followers do a lot of the extended promotion for them. This is great! That's exactly how social media is supposed to work. Just one thing though... many people don't know how to really use social media. More to the point, they don't always know how you want them to use it, or why.
Publishers and Inventors
Your objective as a publisher or inventor on TableTop Day is to get people to mention your games. You want your players to be saying #yourgame, @yourcompany, and posting a picture of the game in progress. When enough people do that, maybe you'll start trending too. For instance, #settlersofcatan got a LOT of play time on TableTopDay. So when curious people investigating the #TableTopDay trend see #settlersofcatan, they may start looking into that as well.
2nd game of the night for International Tabletop Day. En route to victory! #settlersofcatan#tabletopday — Jeff_Griffin (@jeff_grif) March 31, 2013
There are all sorts of ways to get people interested in talking about your games. Some companies offered coupon codes for games, or contests... but the big deal for most game fans is just to be acknowledged. That's why they're mentioning your game in the first place. When you take the time to start responding to some notable tweets and posts mentioning your titles, you have immediately made that person feel like talking about your product was worthwhile. With TableTop HQ being swamped by millions of tweets, you are in a far better position to connect with your players. TableTop Day is an opportunity to have this conversation with thousands of participants around the world (if not tens of thousands) and better develop your following.
Event Sites (stores, libraries, clubs)
An event site's objective is to say "Here's where the action is!". You want to be identified as a significant, or at least interesting source of activity. If you don't want to get noticed, you can run a private event and not add yourself to the listings.
For event sites, social media conversations should have included a unique signature. Its a global event, so maybe get players to talk about #tabletopday #yourtown #yourcountry? Or #tabletopday #yourgamestore or #yourlibrary? If you want your traffic to register as significant, a little added hashtag helps separate you from the flood. Get your players involved with talking about this from the moment they walk in the door. They can tweet and post between games if they don't want to be bothered with building the conversation while they play.
110 gamers @mysticcelt today! #TableTopDay#Chicago — Anthony Sansone (@atsansone) March 30, 2013
Also, consider coordination with other area sites and groups. I know its hard to do sometimes, but a single event of 200 people is far more interesting than 20 events with 10 when it comes to promotions. Hitting 20 targets is difficult and you're less likely to get noticed.
You might consider this an opportunity to do something unique. Something that other people will want to talk about. Remember, you want to be recognized as a highlight of the day! Life-sized board games, fund-raising for charity and even just interesting pictures all help you spread your message further.
@tabletopday we had over 200 people over 12 hrs and raised over $1500 for @feednovascotia. Thanks for creating an awesome event #tabletopday
— Halifax Tabletop Day (@hfxtabletopday) March 30, 2013
Also, If you're organizing an open location where people are free to join in, you need to be prepared for a lot of different situations. Have a person welcoming arrivals, have a selection of short and easy games for unfamiliar players and people arriving between games. Most people coming will probably be adults, but its possible they'll bring kids... be clear on what is OK, or be prepared for a mixed crowd. Don't let your incoming players feel left out, this is why you're hosting an event to begin with! Some players were posting about how the event was a bust for them; this is easily avoided with a little planning and a smiling face.
Engaging the Players in conversation
The players need to understand they have the ability to help support their game stores, their favorite games, even their favorite snacks by just taking a moment or two out of their day and to talk about it. And it will cost them all of a couple minutes of their time between games.
#TableTopDay can't wait for tonight #pizza and #settlersofcatan Thank you for creating tabletop @geekandsundry ( @feliciaday & @wilw )
— Fluffy Boxen (@KareiyaDA) March 30, 2013
Some players just want to game and be part of this cool event, and may not want to participate in the social media piece. This is fine. However, you should at least ask them, and convey why its actually important to do this on TableTop day. Rolling that die and playing that card on any other day is cool, but on TableTop day its even more so. Its an attempt to make a global statement that what you're doing is cool. The inventors and publishers of those games you played want you to talk about how cool it is, because a whole lot of people are listening. The fact that you thought something was cool increases the chances that someone else might just consider checking it out too. And if you talk about what you're playing, there's a chance that the publisher or inventor might talk back.
When you want to make a social media event, a little bit of communication and "pep talk" to the players can help amplify the event for you. Make sure everyone knows how to give you the best results possible, and why its important.
The future of TableTop Day is not yet known, but we're all optimistic that it will happen again. However, these same tips I offer here can be used every single day! TableTop Day just gives you an opportunity to carry those conversations further, because more people are out there looking at what you have to say... but there's no reason you can't build a following with these tips right now, and your increased audience can help make the next TableTop Day even bigger!