Dear GameStop,

Yesterday I tweeted the following,

“GameStop should turn all of their stores into lan centers that also sell games and gaming hardware. Have brands bid on being the official headset/mkb/controller/pc/console/etc provider of the lan center.

Charge by the hour on stations.
Sell products.
Sell concessions.”

Then the joker in me followed that tweet up with this one,

“I just saved their brand. They should give me double on my Xbox one trade, $3.75 would work, I guess.”

The point behind these tweets was to draw attention to a brand that I love and to shine a light on just how worried I am about their brand, with that being said I’d like to take this time to talk about GameStop and my vision for their brand.

LAN centers. I firmly believe the gaming and esports space 100% needs a national brand to support LAN centers in every state in the United States. Name a brand that is in a better position than GameStop to make this happen?

Some of you are thinking WOW Scotty, LAN centers? Nobody would even care, wrong… GameStop could be the official LAN partner of every single video game that remotely has an interest in esports. With my idea, you would have GameStop running qualifiers that would lead to state championships for state titles. So many people think that people with the most significant followings on social media speak on behalf of everyone; this isn’t true.

Everyone wants to talk about esports viewership numbers, but they should be talking about esports participation numbers!!! Esports fans are not equal to traditional sports fans… traditional sports has a distinct pathway to being a pro, and once you fail at becoming a pro, you are forever labeled a spectator.

This is what makes esports so amazing, you can be a top-level pro in an esports title regardless if you can’t run fast, you can’t jump high, you’re too short, too skinny, too big, for the most parts you’re not held back by the same physical limitations that would hold you back from being a traditional sports pro.

GameStop stores are not fresh or fun or exciting, and they 100% need to be. GameStop should celebrate the playing of video games, and they should celebrate the best players of those video games, they should celebrate the professional scene of those video games.

With publishers like ATVI moving Overwatch and now Call of Duty to localized esports titles, and professional sports leagues like the NBA doing the same thing by having city-based esports teams, am I the only one who sees this as an immense opportunity? GameStop has the infrastructure to run local/state/national championships for any game/esport.

Lastly, I need a reason to hang out, take some of the pressure off of your core business before it’s too late, you must reinvent your brand now, not later… start today! PC Bangs are super popular overseas, and here in the states you have bars/restaurants that are focusing on gaming and esports, and they are blowing up because of it.

Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn with any feedback you may have!

Employee Social Media Advocacy

 

I posted a tweet recently from my twitter account the other day and I wanted to share my thoughts behind this tweet with you.

The Tweet: https://twitter.com/ScottyTidwell/status/1070377123922305025

“It’s almost 2019, and brands still are not using their employees to amplify their social media messaging… IMO, it speaks volumes about a brand when it’s own employees won’t share their employer’s posts.  Your most prominent fans/advocates should always be your employees.”

After a few replies, it was apparent to me that I needed to write a blog on this subject as it’s one that is very dear to me as a former Community Manager, Director of Marketing, CEO, and now CMO.  I’m still blown away by how many brands are scared to death to engage with their employees when it comes to amplifying brand messaging on social media platforms.

We live in a digital and very connected world, and employers have taken a strange stance with company social media policies that make ZERO SENSE to me.  I’ve had the pleasure or pain, depending on how you look at it, overseeing several brand social media policies.  I’ll go back to talk about how I would handle this issue if it were left up to me in just a second, but first I want to touch on some of the ridiculous comments I’ve heard over the years from all angles in business to include C-Level Officers, in-house PR team members, and even contracted PR firms.

It usually starts with these words, “we must protect our brand on social media, therefore we shouldn’t allow employees to state they work for us publicly, and we don’t want them engaging with anyone on social media, account we only want one voice and that voice should be from the main branded accounts”.

Yeah, I wish I could tell you that I’m kidding, but I’m not.  I’m going to highlight a few stats below before wrapping all of this up in a simple statement for brands to take to heart.

Here are some stats for you to look over.

  • Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employee’s vs the same words shared via official brand social channels (MSLGroup)
  • 79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after the implementation of a formal employee advocacy program. 65% said increased brand recognition. (Hinge Marketing)
  • Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Social Media Today)
  • Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other points. (Marketing Advisory Network)
  • Earned media (press, word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer referrals) drives 4x the brand lift as paid media. (Bazaar Voice)
  • Peer-to-peer marketing is the leading driver behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. (McKinsey)
  • 73% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23 percent more often. (Aberdeen Group)
  • According to IBM, when a lead is generated through social selling or employee advocacy that lead is 7X more likely to close compared to other lead gen tactics. (Find and Convert)
  • Sales reps using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78% of their peers. (Forbes)
  • 91% of B2B buyers are active on social media. (IDC)
  • 64% of teams that use social selling hit quota compared to 49% that don’t. (Aberdeen Group)
  • 80% believe their sales force would be more effective and efficient if they could leverage social media. (Sales Management Association)
  • An employee advocacy program can drive 16% better win rates, 2x pipeline, and deliver 48% larger deals. (EveryoneSocial)
  • More than 80% of Americans say employee communication is key to developing trust with their employers. (Lexicon)
  • 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)
  • 85% of employees said they are most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news. (Trade Press Services)
  • Use of social software by employees can improve productivity by 20-25%. (McKinsey)
  • More informed employees outperform their peers by 77%. (CEB/Gartner)
  • When companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information. (McKinsey)

So, with all of this fantastic data why are brands bullish on letting their employees have a voice and be social with the company that they are working for?  Why are employees signing social media policies that are telling them to stay the hell away from branded social posts and do not engage on social media with customers who are happy or sad with their user experience with their brand?

ALIENS BRO… ALIENS… seriously, it’s almost like everyone has forgotten about the ten golden rules of communication.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll list them out now.

  1. Convey messages in a clear and effective manner.
  2. Use clear and unambiguous language.
  3. Use non-verbal methods of communication.
  4. Use repetition.
  5. Check understanding.
  6. Be warm and attentive.
  7. Show that you are listening.
  8. Be slow to pass judgment.
  9. Use silence appropriately.
  10. Check understanding.

Notice how “check understanding” is on here twice?  Yes, it’s that important to ensure that you are on the same page with the people you are talking too or the people that are talking to you.  I see so many brands get themselves in trouble account they are not following or do not understand how to apply these ten simple golden rules.

Scotty, we understand that you think many brands are not handling social media correctly, so… tell us what you would do?

First, be human… By saying be human, I’m saying allow human interaction to take place on social media platforms.  It should be 100% ok for an employee on social media to engage and amplify brand posts and the customers/users who are also engaging with the branded accounts.

Second, build trust… the data tells us that consumers are more confident in purchasing a product or service online if they can easily find key people who work for the brand on social media.  It’s like asking to speak to the manager directly without having to ask… you type your message to them and hit tweet/send/post/comment.

Third, train/educate… brands need to train employees how to handle certain situations on social media, employees need to know when they should forward something up the chain of command vs when they can simple like/share/reply.  Remember, the idea is to allow employees to be social and proud of their brand, to do this you will need plans that help ensure employees are seen as human, but also “on brand” when it comes to how they engage.

Lastly, be fun, be engaging, be active, be friendly, it is never ok to get it wrong for a customer, but it is always ok to try and empathize, sympathize, with them.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with social media policies at work! Comment or Tweet @ScottyTidwell

 

 

Esports Is a Content Delivery Platform, Period.

Yes, I have said this for a while now, but I have never taken the time to put my feelings on paper for all to read. Most of you who know me know I am very passionate when it comes to esports, and I have a burning passion for seeing and helping it continue to grow.

Esports at its core is about competition right? Human nature is to compete, compete for food, compete for land, compete for a better job, compete for a better car, better house, competing is something we do and don’t even think about it.

I have seen 70yr old women competing on Bejeweled on Facebook and talking smack to each other based on who has the highest score or have reached the highest level. I have coached young men in football and watched them compete during a football game, then watched them compete after the game at my house playing Madden. Competition is in our DNA and esports allows anyone to scratch their competitive itch regardless of how fast he or she can run, or high they can jump, how much they weigh or how tall they are.

Content is king! How many times have you heard that before? If you follow me or know me, then you will know I say this all the time. Content is king, and we need to take care of our king at all costs. Without written and video content then all of the competition that I have talked would be almost meaningless from a value proposition.

Good content that is engaging and draws in views and traffic is valuable to esports, it allows us, marketers, to be storytellers for our products and services. As traditional media keeps declining, you will see more and more non-endemic brands turn their marketing budgets to gaming and more importantly esports. When these brands turn to esports, we need to be ready to serve them and help them integrate their campaigns seamlessly into our ecosystem.

Within esports, there are a few types of vehicles that are driving and delivering content.

1. Dev’s/Publishers:
2. Org’s/Teams:
3. Media Companies:
4. Independent Content Creators/Players:

If you have been around long enough, then you have seen first hand how meaningful content from Devs/Publishers has grown over the years. I mean, some of the content that is being created around the Overwatch World League is some of the best I have seen.

I love content from Orgs and Teams when I can get it, sadly not many of them are producing good and regular content, this needs to change asap. People want to connect with their favorite players and who better to quench that thirst than the teams that they play for. Behind the scenes, please, let me connect with my favorite player… People know Player B is impressive at his job, but they want to know the real Player B, what makes Player B tick? What does Player B do daily, how does Player B live? It is all about the players. As more investment takes place into other Orgs, you will see the content efforts pick up.

The big one for me here is Media Companies… running a media company is very tough these days and is NOT a short-term play in my opinion. I do feel that the best esports focused media companies that are left standing within the next 12 to 36 months will do very well. I am confident you will see a few of them get acquired by larger brands that are forced to move into the esports space for impressions/views/users.

Number four on my list is so significant to me that I am going to take the time to write another blog post that only covers that topic.  Look for it to go up next month.

If the content is King, who is trying to own esports?

How Fortnite Took Over

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months and weeks, you have probably heard of a game called Fortnite. I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts on how/why Fortnite has taken over the gaming space, unlike any game we have seen before. Fortnite has gone mainstream as of late with clips from people playing the game showing up on ESPN, and many other news outlets in addition to countless celebrities playing and even live streaming the game.

What is it that made Fortnite so special in my opinion?

1. Free To Play
2. Multiplatform
3. Weekly Content
4. Ownership of Game Issues
5. Twitch Prime Partnership
6. Super Fun

1. Free To Play:
Why? Let’s think about PUBG for a moment. I am thinking to purchase PUBG cost me $30 on steam. After putting over 400 hours into PUBG, I felt as if my experience playing the game was lacking, I was faced with constant framerate issues, laggy servers, countless bugs, etc. You could say the same for H1Z1…

With Fortnite being an F2P game, I found myself way more understanding of any in-game issues surrounding the game account Fortnite didn’t cost me a dime to play.

2. Multiplatform:
With Fortnite being F2P on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and iOS you can see how something so simple as this has allowed Fortnite to leave other games and especially BR games in the dust.

3. Weekly Content:
The team at Epic have done a fantastic job understanding that gamers play a lot and they get fatigued when it comes to games. Epic combats this by rolling out weekly updates, content, new weapons, new player skins, etc.

4. Ownership of Game Issues:
I can summarize the amazing job Epic’s been doing regarding game issues and updates very easily… TRELLO… yes, Epic created a public Trello board to show everyone what bugs and fixes they are working on. This is unheard of and yet another reason why so many people trust in Epic and Fortnite to keep giving them an amazing gaming experience.

5. Twitch Prime Partnership:
The partnership with Twitch allowed a lot of gamers like myself who haven’t bought skins or the battle pass a chance to feel what it’s like to have a really cool character skin in-game. That simple deal leads me to spend a lot of money in the “ITEM SHOP” which is now the first thing I check when I load the game up.

6. Super Fun:
When someone asks me to describe what Fortnite means to me, I always say, SUPER FUN! I can play Fortnite for countless hours regardless if I’m playing solo, with a friend, or with a full squad.

7. Drake:
Sorry, I had to include this for fun.  If you don’t know, you should know.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why Fortnite has exploded into one of the hottest games ever.

Streaming Platforms… Who Cares?

I was drinking my cup of coffee today while skimming over Twitter this morning as I have done every day for the past seven or eight years. My timeline is/used to be exactly the info that I wanted to see when I wanted to see it. Twitter is determined to piss me off and keep me from seeing the content that I want when I want, but that is a different blog altogether.

I saw an article that said ESL(I know some good folks over there and wish them the best) had chosen Facebook to be their streaming partner for CSGO and Dota 2 events. You can read more about that here https://www.dexerto.com/news/esl-surprises-everyone-partnering-facebook/42569. I made a snarky comment this morning that was met with some agreement and some disagreement. “ESL picked Facebook as their streaming partner tears of joy emoji and rolling on the floor laughing emoji here:).

One person even said that my tweet was unprofessional and bad for the industry, I can argue that point till the cows come home but, I’d rather talk about what is bad for the industry. That is decisions that are made that on the surface seem only to take into consideration of the profitability of the business. Am I the only one who views this partnership with Facebook as a pure money grab? I mean, why else would you choose to work so hard to take your core users and try to pull them from a platform they love called Twitch? It didn’t work too well just a year earlier when you moved from Twitch to YouTube, so why would moving from YouTube to Facebook be any different?

A year ago this month ELeague hit one million concurrent viewers on their Twitch channel for the major and I think ESL have hit numbers close to that on their Twitch channel as well. Twitch is in a very powerful position, and its parent company(Amazon, in case you live under a rock) will probably be the first trillion-dollar market cap company in the world.

“Twitch won’t play ball and give us what we want, we will take our business elsewhere.” I would have no clue if that were said, so please forgive my awful sense of humor. I can hear it now, “Scotty why are you carrying water for Twitch, do you owe Twitch or their employees a favor?” Hell no, I’m trying to push an agenda, that agenda is very simple. Twitch is the best streaming platform in the world, and the fans of the best esports in the world deserve to watch them on the best platform in the world.

When Facebook builds a better mousetrap than Twitch, let me know, and I’ll gladly try it out until then let’s try not to cater too much to the non-endemic brands that have proven they will dip in the space and dip back out of the space when it’s convenient for them.

The Race For Esports Viewership

In case you didn’t know we have a massive power struggle that has already started in the world of live streaming Esports and Gaming content.  YouTube Gaming announced yesterday that they have partnered with FACEIT in a multi-year deal that will bring the ECS(Esports Championship Series) to YouTube.

You can say this is a black eye for Twitch seeing how ECS was created out of a partnership between Twitch and FACEIT less than a year ago.  You can read about it here in case you missed that announcement last year.  Now, between you and me, I have no idea if YouTube just outbid Twitch to make this happen or if Twitch thought it wasn’t worth the investment and decided to pass, on the surface, it seems that they’ve lost something they put a lot of time and money in.

The next 12-24 months will be very exciting when it comes to streaming.  I think it’s obvious that Twitch is way out in front of everyone else.  But, after YouTube making this play for ECS I’m certain you will see other big moves very soon.  For now, I think we should all pay close attention to the following sites.

1. Twitch
2. YouTube
3. Beam
4. MLG.TV

I can hear you now… “Scotty, what are you on about mate. Beam is new.. and MLG pretty much has nothing going for it other than Call Of Duty events.”  Yes, you’re right.  Microsoft acquired Beam late last year, and I can tell you they’re putting a lot of time and effort into the platform.

What’s important to note is that Beam is a Microsoft product.  That matters because of Esports titles like Halo and Gears Of War.  Why would Microsoft want to allow the impressions/ad revenue that Halo/Gow generate go to Twitch’s coffers when they now own a site like Beam?  Now, I’m only speaking to this in regards to Esports Lan Events that would normally be streamed on Twitch for example.

MLG.TV gets a ton of shit from people within the Call Of Duty community.  Everyone use to say that “MLG killed COD” when streamers like Nadeshot and others made a move from Twitch to the MLG platform.  This is simply a load of bullshit.  COD was hitting some tremendous numbers on MLG.TV.  Fast forward, and most everyone is back to streaming on Twitch, and a lot of them have fewer viewers now than when they were on MLG.TV.  I still believe MLG.TV will be the exclusive home for all ATVI/BLIZZARD Esports streams in the future.

Let me know what you think about streaming sites, which site is your favorite and why?

Underage Players and Esports

As you may know, I’m a father of three awesome kids(19,18,13), and we play a ton of video games.  Hell, we’ve played a ton of competitive video games together as well.  So when I hear things like “thank god this event is 18+) it makes me sad.  At times I have a hard time understanding some of the stupid rules that are set up by gaming companies, federal, and state governments.

Want to drive a car? Get your learners permit at 15 and get an adult to ride around with you. Want to get married to the girl or boy of your dreams?  Not a problem.. you can do that at 14 years of age or younger in some states.  Want to shoot virtual characters in a video game at a LAN/Esports event? Fuck off..  I wish I were joking about the marriage part and the video games competition part.. but, sadly I’m not.

I’m no Lawyer, but for the life of me, I don’t understand how parental consent is not sufficient to allow “little johnny” a chance to play with his friends at an “open” LAN event.  Someone, please explain this to me?  Now, some of you will say “but, they shouldn’t be playing mature games in the first place.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 7.59.11 PM

(Team Heckleberry pictured above competing at a Call Of Duty LAN event in 2014)

Somewhere, there is a sixteen year of kid who will drive themselves to work tonight after school and work for a few hours at McDonald’s.  Then he/she will drive back home, clean up, finish up any homework they hadn’t finished, play some video games till midnight or so and do it all again tomorrow.  Yet, They’re not mature enough to play video games at a LAN event.

Before I go any further, I want to give you examples of games that are rated Mature, Adult, and Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).  Just a quick note, there are other factors that come into play besides an ESRB rating of a game.

Mature 18+: Grand Theft Auto IV, Nioh, For Honor, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and pretty much every Call of Duty game created.

Adult 17+: Hatred, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Manhunt 2, Thrill Kill to name a few.

Teen: Overwatch, Halo 5, etc.

I wonder what sales, DAU’s, MAU’s, DLC sales, for the games listed as Mature or Adult would look like if underage players were blocked from playing the games.  I’ll go out on a limb and say sales and active users would take a massive hit.

Pretty much my entire issue is with “open” style events.  Open events should be just that, open.  This is a great way for these kids to travel to events with their parents(which is fun btw) and see their favorite game being played by their favorite pro players.  The best part is they get a chance to not only meet them, but some even get a chance to play them.

In the past, we’ve seen players who were considered top talent in games swap over from certain FPS console games to Halo 5(Rated Teen btw).  This player went on to win the North American Halo 5 championship with his professional Halo 5 team.  Kids shouldn’t have to stop playing their favorite game so that they can scratch their competitive itch that most all of us have.

I’m sure everyone will bring up traveling, and the full-time commitment required to play for one of the best teams in the world and I get that.  At the end of the day, we should ask the following questions and let parents be parents.

  1. Is the player good enough to play on my pro team?
  2. Is the player 18 or older?
  3. If no, does the player have parental consent and support from their parents?

Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on the subject or tweet me.