Becky Pomroy on the importance of fans
In the latest installment in our series of blogs giving insight into how we work behind the scenes, we asked our Social & Community Manager Becky Pomroy to talk through her role, the projects she’s working on, and the importance of fan communities…
Tell us a bit about your role and day-to-day responsibilities at Exient.
I joined Exient at the end of October 2020 as Community Manager, but I’ve been working in the games industry for about 12 years, starting off in QA before becoming a game designer, and then moving into production.
In my spare time I also make my own pop culture-inspired enamel pins and as part of that manage my own ecommerce website, so I feel I’ve a good understanding of how important social media and community management can be for a brand.
In terms of my day-to-day work at Exient, I’m immersed in the wonderful world of Lemmings. My first task every day is to check all our social platforms for new engagement. It’s really important from my perspective to respond to community comments and feedback quickly, which is part of the reason the role came about.
I’ll then check the support emails for anything specific that might have come in, along with our Discord for any activity.
After that, it can be anything! My role is very varied, so currently I’m identifying social events that we might want to support and participate in with the community, along with planning events, social content and roadmaps for what we want to achieve in the future.
What are the key projects you’re working on currently?
We’re looking at what we have coming up in the Lemmings product roadmap that we think the community would be excited about, then working out how to communicate that through new content, etc.
Looking outside of Lemmings, I’m constantly looking at world events, trending hashtags – things that we could potentially accommodate within the game or that we could post about. There are obvious calendared ‘events’ like Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year, but there are so many ad hoc opportunities too based on news, pop culture and current affairs.
Going forwards, we’re working towards more synchronisation between Exient departments, so that we can incorporate game elements into social events, seasonal events and activities that the community can engage with together.
Which social platforms do you prioritise?
Our main channels are currently are Insta, Twitter and Facebook. In fact, our biggest audience for Lemmings is on Insta, 50,000+ followers.
Our most active community, however, is on Facebook, with a really dedicated fanbase that even started its own ‘unofficial’ Lemmings community. It shows just how much people are dedicated to the game; they proactively want to communicate with other players about Lemmings.
Recently, we launched an official Lemmings Discord server; a hub where people can gather together from the various other platforms, with channels for them to talk about Lemmings, post screen shots, along with being able to ask for hits and tips. There is also a creative channel for anyone who wants to share fan art or YouTube videos.
Discord is also a great place for us to communicate directly with our audience, and an opportunity to receive first-hand feedback on bugs or new features they’d like to see added to the game.
In fact, Discord has really gained traction this year as a result of the pandemic – before people might have thought it was mostly used by hardcore gamers to communicate between very specific niches – but it’s actually a really great platform to communicate about anything; music, playing games together and watch parties.
We’ve seen the Discord audience demographic change from a very young group to a more general appeal. It’s also really well moderated, with bots that can help you keep servers in order, making sure that the hubs we create are safe spaces for everyone using them.
How would you sum up your approach to fan engagement?
There are certain approaches that you can apply to every community, such as thinking about who the audience is, what they want, how they like to engage, what content is interesting and fun for them. For Lemmings, we’re always looking at new ways of engaging beyond simply “here’s some new game content” – Lemmings players are curious about who we are as people and we want to engage with them as people, too.
Ultimately, the games we make wouldn’t exist without the people playing them. Without a community, all you’ve got is a product – you need engagement. Exploring opportunities where we can celebrate the community and achievements within the game is key for us.
As a community manager, I’m a messenger and a point of contact between the audience and the company, communicating any issues to devs, making sure the community knows it’s being supported and listened to. Players have the ability to report issues through the in-game support mechanism, but social media is also critical for feedback and us responding to any issues.
Has the pandemic changed fan engagement at all?
We’ve noticed a huge increase in people playing games across all devices. Now we’re all socially distanced, people are reaching out even more across social media through games as a way to connect with people they know in real life: family and friends.
It’s really important to support these communities and the different platforms that enable them to connect with one another, fostering community along with thinking of new ways in which we can engage. Playing games is a great distraction from all of the terrible news that we receive on a daily basis – it’s a great way of switching off for a while, connecting with people and having fun! Social and community is more important now than ever before.
How did you find the process of joining Exient during a global pandemic?
Joining a new company and taking on a new role during lockdown has been a unique experience. Obviously, meeting new colleagues virtually isn’t the same as meeting them face-to-face – but it’s the new normal and we all have to adjust to it.
Exient made the transition really smooth for me, asking what my requirements would be tech wise and setting me up very quickly and easily. The team are really nice and friendly and made me feel at home. Something I think the company does really well is communication, between departments and teams (as well as our player communities!).
We have a virtual ‘show and tell’ every Friday during which we can discuss the projects we’ve all been working on, which is a really great way of connecting across all departments. We also have social events, such as Pub Quizzes.
Exient have also done a great job of taking on board everybody’s different personal situations. Working remotely is different for everybody, with varying degrees of time restraints and responsibilities, especially when it comes to family. They’ve done a wonderful job of taking all this into consideration, and also ensuring staff are engaging socially and communicating with each other. Working from home feels very normal for me now, although I’m looking forward to meeting people when the lockdown is over.
In terms of general tips for remote working, I would recommend setting boundaries between work and personal life. Distraction can be easy, along with working too long. Take breaks, have social chat time, go for a walk. Getting dressed in the morning also helps! Maintain that ‘going to office’ vibe. Also, allow yourself to be flexible – people you work with or for have different responsibilities and commitments.
What advice would you give to someone hoping for a career in the games industry?
There’s a huge variety of roles within the video games industry, with lots of different paths to choose from. Having a passion for games certainly helps – I feel lucky to be part of a creative industry that I’ve been involved with since a child playing games. Importantly, you can work your way up from getting your foot in the door at a company and go on to do great things, which you might not have necessarily considered initially.