By Luke Brason
Sometimes getting something very publicly (and very badly wrong) can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
When Games Workshop closed its disastrous Facebook page in February 2013, no-one would have dreamed that just six months later it would be back and delivering an exemplary community experience.
‘We ought to be on Facebook’
Games Workshop’s original Facebook page felt as if it had been created from of a sense of duty, rather than as part of an integrated digital and social strategy.
There was a decent feed of high quality product images (Games Workshop make and sell fantasy and sci-fi games and miniatures), but from what I remember, topics were led by the page owners.
Customers couldn’t post or start their own topics, resulting in an overwhelmingly ‘one-sided’ feeling to the content. ‘Here’s what we have to tell you’ rather than ‘Let’s have a conversation’.
Rebellion and retreat
In February 2013, Games Workshop became involved in a heated debate about the ownership of the phrase ‘space marine’.
Unable (or unwilling?) to respond to the volume of Facebook comments that poured in as a result (largely negative), Games Workshop took the decision to close the page.
The official reason was given as:
Many thanks for your email. The Games Workshop Facebook page has been removed so that the customer interaction goes through our retail stores. This will be via face-to-face contact with customers while they are visiting the stores, or by using the individual Facebook pages each store has.
The difficult online conversations and debating points then simply moved to an alternative universe of independent blogs and forums, and therefore outside Games Workshop’s sphere of influence. For example:
Games Workshop tries to act like both the internet and globalization never happened.