Or why these campaigns don’t really work
Over these four and a half, hell, slowly inching towards five years, OWI attempted three different social media campaigns to bolster their following and generate a bit of free hype around Soulstorm. In this post I’d like to share my opinion why these seldom turned out how they were intended to.
Perhaps the most ambitious of these campaigns, the ARG was a several-years long “side-game” for the community to play while they’re waiting for Soulstorm. It had a very good start, activity soared on the different communities attached to the series and even a third-party ARG solving group joined in.
However, the ARG ran into a problem… The development period was extended, yet there was no content to pad the puzzles out. There was no way to come out good from this, but there were ways to minimize harm, yet OWI didn’t choose to do any of them. I’m talking obviously of acknowledging the delay either in or out of universe and shutting down the ARG with a bang. Instead what we got was a long period of silence and confusion as the community wasn’t sure whether this was just an unusually long hiatus or whether OWI really abandoned the ARG.
This eventually caused the interest to dwindle and the ARG solving group to shrug and move on to greener pastures. The ARG thus remains as a sort of controversial topic with a lot of people thinking back to it fondly due to the reveals, while others feel cheated from its awkward finale.
The Oddwall was a much more straightforward and simpler attempt at gaining new followers. The idea was that OWI posts an image obscured by differently sized squares and the community could vote each week which square to reveal. Some of the squares were also obscured by different goals the community had to achieve by reaching a number of new subscribers on OWI’s different social media pages.
The Oddwall was unofficially shelved after a single iteration and hasn’t been mentioned anywhere since then nor why this happened. My guess, however, is that it’s due to not bringing in the projected new subscriptions. For instance, their Facebook page started losing likes soon after the announcement was made and while eventually they reached their goals, the initial hype train very quickly ran out of fuel.
The released image itself generated ambivalent reactions, people were excited to see a new image from the game, however, it was largely an image we already saw before, just from a different angle.
Password-locked Soulstorm Content
This is - at the time of writing - OWI’s newest attempt at social media engagement. The idea is that they’ll wait until four of their social media pages gain 250 new subscribers each and then release questions. Once these are answered they’ll release codes which will open a page on their website.
Considering the event hasn’t ended yet it’s way too early to talk about whether it was a success or not, but I nonetheless still wish to disclose my thoughts.
Thing is, I don’t really see how this could end any way differently than the previous two attempts unless the end goal is something actually major. Asking for subscribers makes sense when you’re an active content creator, but considering OWI only releases content every 3-5 months or so, there is very little point in following their accounts because you’re unlikely to miss anything. Even if due to some miracle these goals are met, who’s to say the newcomers won’t just unsubscribe immediately upon experiencing the content drought OWI has been subjecting its fandom for the last four and a half years. It only takes a quick look at the timeline to know that things aren’t exactly being released rapidly.
Concerned Fan: No really, please stop doing this.
Another Fan: Stop doing what? Engaging with the community?
I’ve seen some people retorting to concerned fans asking whether they dislike OWI interacting with the community, but to that I’d ask… Is this really interaction? Asking fans to follow their pages is an extremely one-sided “conversation.” Even the whole “answer the question for the code” part of this is just so little compared to previous attempts. The ARG asked for cooperation and using one’s head, the Oddwall at least provided weekly updates, meanwhile this is just a one-off thing, where you have to answer a question that’ll probably be easy to figure out using Google or minimal research due to the fact that the greater fandom isn’t exactly familiar with the supplementary content outside the games.
Even then, we haven’t even came close to reaching the goal for any of the four social media sites. If one checks the statistics, their Facebook page and Youtube channel for instance are heavily bleeding likes and subscriptions. Just last month they lost over 300 likes on Facebook and over 200 subscribers on Youtube. Turning even one of them around and even surpassing it by 250 new fans, before getting any content sounds a bit unreasonable to me and yet they want to do both.
Even their quickest growing site, their Instagram, is only bringing in 90 people on average per month. Unless things suddenly speed up, we’ll be sitting here milling our fingers until a quarter of a year passes. And even then, that’s only 1/4th of the necessary following achieved.
So what is there to do?
Do away with the like fishing. People aren’t gonna subscribe because one asks them. They’re subscribing because of the promise based on previous behavior that there will be new content that they are going to be interested in. To put it simply, releasing whatever is intended as the end goal now (with maybe keeping the puzzle answering part) and then continuing to release small information packets would likely bring in and keep way more people than these weird rituals.
It’s been almost five years, people aren’t looking for appetizers anymore, they’re plenty hungry already. Playing around like we’re still at the beginning of the development cycle will only lead to bigger and bigger backlashes as even the more loyal part of the fanbase will start to have enough.