Have you ever wondered what lessons you can learn from analyzing eSports brands on Social Media? We’re here to tell you what you can take away from observing posting patterns, user engagement and marketing strategies these brands use on Facebook. We took some of the biggest eSports organizations’ profiles: 14 Teams, 14 Casters & Analysts, 12 Game & Production Studios and 10 Equipment, Peripherals and Software analyzed them based on several factors. We looked at the way they posted, engaged with their fans, the way their users engaged with them and the top performances within a given period. Scroll down to find the takeaways you should have from the brands in the eSports community (look out for the Pro tips in each section to get the key learning points or interesting recommendations). If you have no idea what eSports are and want a super cool crash course with videos and images that won’t bore you out of your mind – here you go, you’re welcome.
When it comes to interest in eSports in general and their social media performance, you are probably one of three people:
1) Those who already know how fast the world of eSports is growing and want to find out how their brands use social media.
2) Those who are interested in the fascinating world of eSports and want to know more about how they are raking in fans by the millions.
3) Those who think eSports are having their 15 minutes of fame and will die out within the next few years; here’s some advice: you’re about to miss out, big time.
Before moving further with the lessons, here’s a little treat to get you excited: Valve, the company behind Dota 2 just made over $14 million in the past week in sales relating to The International 2017 which is coming up in August using their summer-sale. These are in-game item sales for one game, produced by one production studio, for one event. I’ll give you a few seconds to let that sink in.
Here are screenshot comparisons between June 20th and June 28th to show how the growth was done (25% of revenues go to the prize pool so we just multiplied the difference by 4). This means that Valve has been getting revenues of $9 million a week or $1.3 million a DAY (with 330K of them going to prize pool money) since the Battle Pass was announced and went on sale on May 4th. It’s this powerful community that drives the eSports world forward and the reason why we will be analyzing how the brands within the ecosystem drive this community forward.
In a new update, Valve have released The International 2017 True Sight for the finals where you can see the players’ reactions, conversations and strategies in a cinematic fashion:
If you’re reading and still have no idea what’s going on or what the fuss is all about; go here . If you’re already an eSports expert and want to get right to it, the lessons learned are right below. The chosen platform for analysis is Facebook since it is the platform that can offer the biggest amount of information! There are also a few other posts coming up (hint: the PGL CS:GO – Counter Strike: Global Offensive competition in Cracow, Poland is coming up in less than a month)
The main reason we’re looking at these platforms is as mediums of support for the rest of the core operations of the groups whether it’s casters promoting their content being released on YouTube, hardware companies promoting their gaming computers or game production studios interacting with their fans.
Lesson 1: You Don’t Need a Fancy, High Budget Marketing Campaign to Connect with your Users.
IG [-Invictus Gaming]’s highest engagement post:
Here we can see a classical example of simple, straight-up emotional exploitation – in a good way. IG used the emotional bond that their fans have with the original game, DotA in order to garner a big amounts of reactions, comments and a HUGE amount of shares (half of the amount of total reactions to the post). They bring back the memories of the “good old days” of DotA when things were much less regulated, there were no pre-defined roles for people and you could do whatever you basically wanted as long as you enjoyed the game and almost no one would judge you for it. This sparked up a conversation that brought forward a debate regarding the way the game has progressed since then. These are the kinds of posts that don’t need an editor, a whole video production team and an amazing game to be played in order to be showcased. All that is shown is a simple screenshot (google Dota 1 Bloodseeker and it will be the first result) which they then followed with a caption that was short, simple and got straight to the point they were trying to make which their audiences were able to connect with.
Pro tip: when a lot of people share your post, that means they probably deeply connected with your content, whether it is a post like the one above or a video of a cat trying to jump to a couch and failing.
SK Gaming’s highest engagement post – Winning the IEM Sydney Championships:
SK Gaming is the profile with the highest single day user-engagement performer which was a short video after their win in IEM Sydney on May 7th. This post was published in Portuguese and the fan base from Brazil is quite large and loyal which makes up over a quarter of their fan-base, followed by the Philippines. We can also relate this to the activities that the page does in itself as well. By commenting quite a lot, similarly to Team Liquid, (over 50% of their activities included commenting) rather than just posting, they are able to make connections with their fan-base that keep engagement and loyalty quite high and use their fan-base to get more and more reach and go viral. They were also publishing quite a lot of links with respect to photo and video content which could be part of the higher general engagement on their page as their fans would be more likely to go to external links which would likely be to blog posts or external videos hence supporting their marketing for the team in general. These types of activities and post types can be seen below in the charts comparing the different profiles of teams in eSports.
Pro tip: track the demographics of your Fanpage and make sure to tailor your content to them and others who are prospective fans (those who you want to like your Page). This will be immensely valuable in reaching out to your fans at the same level that they want to be reached out to using the same language, post types and kind of engagement they expect.
Lesson 2: Competition Prize Pools aren’t Everything.
We’ve focused on covering Dota 2 teams quite a bit so far; and yes, part of it is driven by the sheer amount of prize money going into the game – and, in full disclosure – possibly a small personal bias. However, it’s time to see that fans have taken to other games to show their love on social media. The two most engaged with profiles are…*let’s have a drumroll*: League of Legends and EA Sports Fifa!
As we can see from the above, League of Legends (LoL) and EA Sports Fifa dominate engagement by fans by a mile, followed later by Dota 2 and ESL Counter Strike (yes you read that right, not CounterStrike since they barely post while ESL Counter Strike is super active!). ESL, formerly known as the Electronic Sports League is the largest competition organizer worldwide and has partnered with Intel to produce the IEM or Intel Extreme Masters tournaments worldwide; one of the best known worldwide, especially the one held in Katowice.
This can be seen in the size of the pages analyzed as well since LoL has 14.8 million fans, EA Sports Fifa has 23.6 million fans while Dota 2 only has 4.4 million fans. The truly interesting thing is that ESL Counter Strike still have 259K engaged users with a fan-base size of 744K which means they engaged 33% of their fan-base; a huge feat to accomplish.
League of Legends – Champion Update or Yasuo, The Unforgiven – April Fool’s Reveal:
The video got a whopping 11 million views, 283K reactions, 125K comments and 107K shares which explains the giant spike in engaged users for LoL’s Fanpage between April 1st and 3rd. These kinds of posts that are very absurd promoted a sense of panic among users who didn’t realize what day it was – April 1st – and proved to be a big success for LoL. On the other hand, it can be seen that Riot Games, the producer of League of Legends have a very low level of engagement even though they have 1.1 million fans.
This discrepancy can mostly be attributed to the fact that people identify more with League of Legends where this is the brand/product that they know rather than the company producing the product. These similarities can also be seen between Valve and their games Dota 2 and Counter Strike but not with Blizzard; most likely because of their high level of involvement of the producer with their brand and because people identify Blizzard with the games they play since they need the Blizzard client to activate and play the games; unlike Valve which uses third party applications like Steam for providing and operating their games.
EA FIFA Reveal Ronaldo as the Poster Player for FIFA 18:
The other interesting post that we found was the reveal of EA Sports Fifa regarding their new poster player – Ronaldo. This of course started a huge debate on their page about how Messi is better than Ronaldo then others coming in with other arguments. The final thing that matters is that the response was positive regardless of peoples’ opinions because in the end they cared about the game and commended the graphics. In the end, this garnered them 16 million views, 159K reactions, 37K comments and 57K shares.
Pro tip: fans usually appreciate April Fool’s jokes and others which work within the scope of real-time marketing. Use that to your advantage and make sure to be on top of any cool events going on to use and engage more fans when they’re most active and primed to engage with your brand.
Here’s another bonus video of a successful April Fool’s attempt – Razer April Fool’s 2015 Video:
Lesson 3: If you want to reach more people, make your posts start conversations, not just get likes.
The lesson here came from a profile with a little over 62.5K fans on Facebook: Discord. Discord is a team-chat using both text and voice for teams of gamers. After going through some of Discord’s posts, we saw that they make sure to at least react with a like to their fans’ comments on their posts and reply with a comment (in some of the most helpful and polite way we’ve seen around the block). This could very well explain their engagement rate of 13% of fans which is quite a feat to accomplish being a free VOIP software for gaming support.
Equipment, Peripherals & Software: Brand Behaviors
Discord has a peculiar strategy that they’re using which is engaging their fans quite well and that is through posting statuses that spark up talks. These statuses are as simple as asking “What game are you playing this weekend?” which is starting up conversations by people. The good thing about the fact that Discord is still not massively popular is that its fan-base is loyal and form a community around it that has a lot of power to drive forward further leads and people using the application which makes what they are doing a great communication strategy.
In terms of brand posts, there seems to be a general trend to have high numbers of photo posts and a relatively high number of video posts with variations depending on the more specific market of each brand. For example, HTC Esports is relatively new to the scene, only starting 2 years ago but coming in hard and using Facebook as a support platform for its main content on YouTube promoting its sponsored teams, competitions and collaborations with other players in the eSports industry since its inception. HTC Esports are also using the fact of growing eSports markets in all directions to promote their Virtual Reality (VR) equipment and games on the HTC Vive, one of their newest products released only last year which is sparking up quite a bit of conversations on their page.
Pro tip: make sure your fans interact with your page and that you do the same with them, this increases overall engagement, reach and visibility of your brand and would make sure that people would turn into brand ambassadors. The time of “set it and forget it” campaigns is gone and fans look to brands to be more communicative and personalized in their interactions on social media platforms.
Lesson 4: Decide what type of content to post based on your end goal and market.
We found that the types of brand posts is one of the most interesting metrics for Casters, Coaches & Analysts; particularly since it was very diversified across different profiles.
We can see that Purge Gamers and PopularMMOs for example relied mostly on Statuses for their post types while DotaCinema relied mostly on Photos and then Danelie was heavily reliant on video posts. This can be explained by the fact that Purge Gamers and PopularMMOs are streamers/casters who rely heavily on Twitch and YouTube for their main activities while DotaCinema uses photos to promote the content they create and then use it to redirect users to YouTube.
We can also notice that Eurogamer, GosuGamers and Gamer Sensei posted links most often and this is since they are mostly targeting people to generate traffic for their standalone sites where they provide content, analyses and services related to gaming and eSports and that is their main mode of revenue.
Pro tip: figure out what types of content you want to post based on your end goal – and based on what your fans react best to. If you see that your best performing posts are photos for example, stick to those more and add accompanying links; even if you want to just post the links alone to get more people to your website.
Lesson 5: Consistency is key with engaging fans and keeping them coming for more.
In this case, we also got the learning point from the Casters, Coaches and Analysts’ profiles. We can observe the differences in the engagement levels of the pages depending on the type of content they provide and how they want to reach their fans. Eurogamer for example reached a decent 14% of their fans throughout the period through mostly links while DotaCinema reached a mere 1.5% of their fans even though their page had peaks of similar magnitude to those of Eurogamer but didn’t have the same consistency; mainly since their main channel of communication and content (and of course revenues) is YouTube.
On the other hand, it is not always about just the reach but the engagement with fans in a proper way. We can see in brand activities below that Sajedene relies very heavily on comments with around 2/3’s of her activities focusing on comments which creates a lot of engagement with her fans and is one of the reasons why she is very popular as a caster and streamer; by creating that experience of closeness with her fans.
It may seem counterintuitive to group these profiles together if they are so diverse in their methods of communication but ultimately they rely on each other and form an ecosystem of support and ideas/content for gamers and players which ultimately keeps the eSports scene alive through the commitment their fans have towards them.
It is also worth mentioning that these profiles rely on other platforms much more for reach rather than Facebook and only use it for supporting their activities. This can be seen with PopularMMOs who have 139K likes on Facebook but 11.8 million subscribers on YouTube and over 8.7 billion views on their videos since they created their channel in 2012.
Pro tip: use different social media platforms to support different core activities of your company/brand. Make sure to be consistent and engage as many people as often as possible in order to make sure your content is valuable and to have feedback on what is being provided. It is better to have lower numbers of people consistently engaging with your brand (brand loyalty) than just a one time big spike in engagement levels that is not recurring.
Lesson 6: Understanding that your fans are first and foremost consumers and understanding analyzed data to make appropriate conclusions and decisions.
You might be wondering why we included this graph and why the hell MSI has such a high peak in comparison to other profiles. MSI Gaming take the cake with engagement levels and had the highest peak by far among all pages in this section. This was mainly due to the announcement of the month of prizes and giveaways at the beginning of May which had a lot of users interacting with that post.
The interactions were mainly through reactions to the post but without much comments or shares. This led us to believe that this post was probably sponsored on Facebook to increase the reach due to the disproportionate ratio – more information can be found through our app when permissions to access specific page data about reach type (Organic, Paid and Viral) are given (authorizing Facebook access).
MSI Anniversary Giveaway Post:
However, what this also proves is that fans are over and above all, still consumers, and their interactions and reactions to brands still fall within the same category. Consumers are more often than not very keen on giveaways, especially in cases like this where the hardware provided by MSI in these giveaways would be relatively expensive otherwise. Even if this post in itself may have not generated too much reach within the scope of shares and comments, the fact that it generated so many reactions means that its reach was probably much higher and would at least leave a mark in consumer’s minds of MSI being a familiar company next time they are searching for gaming hardware to purchase.
Pro tip: remember that your fans are consumers and treat them accordingly, make sure to tailor content for them and don’t be afraid to promote and pay for more reach every once in a while at least, especially since it’s becoming harder and harder for brands to have organic reach to their fans on Facebook, check out myth #6 here. This is, in the end how advertising works and the best way to reach fans in the eSports market at least – is online.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our takeaways from social media brands and their activities on Facebook! This is of course a small part of what we were able to get but writing an even longer post wouldn’t have been too convenient for your time. We really believe in eSports as a niche that will be growing very fast in the near future and it is worth keeping up with how the community is managed. Stick with us and subscribe for more lessons you can learn from analyzing eSports brands on social media and other interesting topics we’ll be covering over the next few weeks!
If you’re interested in a more detailed report about the eSports industry or any other industry, make sure to contact us and we’ll do our best to cater to all your needs!