How to Properly Promote Your Guild

The old adage of “no publicity is bad publicity” is a bald-faced lie. You know it in your heart to be so. Sure, it sounds nice to think that any forms of publicity are equally helpful, but you know that odds are low you’re going to join the guild whose members are constantly shouting obscenities in general chat, or the ones who advertise themselves with a regularity usually reserved for atomic clocks.

Of course, you also know you need to promote your guild, even if you’re not doing so by swinging a yowling cat over your head and shouting about it on the regular. Sure, you may or may not to be recruiting right at this moment, but you still need people to know you exist or you’ll be out of luck when you are recruiting again. This means you have a complex problem on your hand, a need to advertise along with a need to avoid being seen as annoying.

Yes, some of this comes down to managing how your group interacts with others who aren’t among your members. But how do you advertise effectively? It probably comes as no surprise that there are tricks to it, and mastering them is well worth the time it takes.

Focus on tangible distinctions

When I play Final Fantasy XIV, I regularly see advertisements for guilds that have a laundry list of features – buffs always on, a stocked guild bank, plenty of players, voice chat servers, and so forth. And I always roll my eyes seeing them, because those things are not features. That’s like advertising a car based on the fact that it has a windshield, headlights, and tires. You can argue (convincingly) that all of that is necessary, but you can’t argue that it’s unique.

When you’re advertising your guild, you don’t need to advertise things that everyone naturally assumes are present. Those offerings will take care of themselves. Instead, what you need to convince people is that you can offer something above and beyond the normal. Instead of making a four-line advertisement stuffed with the stuff every guild has, a one-line advertisement with one unique feature is more likely to stick with people.

Similarly, advertising a “great community” or “helpful players” isn’t really an advertisement in and of itself; what you call a great community might not be what another player sees as great or even acceptable. Those are just words. Saying that you have a community focused on small-group content and scheduled runs for new players? That’s an actual thing. That’s something that you can check on and provide, something tangible. Just by focusing on actual things instead of buzzwords, you can make some extra impact.

Run open events

If I see a guild telling me “join up with us, we want more members,” my eyes frequently glaze over. I can’t help it, I see a lot of those. But if I see a guild in World of Warcraftoffering sign-ups to people who want to run old Mythic raids for transmogs as an open event? Now my interest is piqued, even if I don’t want to join that guild.

Open events are a great form of advertising, in part because you don’t actually have to do any advertising. All you have to do is organize and run an event that happens to include strangers. You don’t need to tell people about what your guild does, because you’re showing them what you can do, welcoming people to take part in something fun while at the same time demonstrating your ability to handle it.

It’s important to recognize the distinction here between advertising and recruiting; open events are worthwhile even if your group isn’t recruiting at the moment. Indeed, outright ending open events with “now join our guild” is a good way to make the goodwill you earn evaporate quickly; players will feel like they’ve been held hostage for an advertisement. Instead, just run the event, thank people for coming, do the best you can, and then know that you left a positive impression on people when they arelooking for a guild.

Of course, running these events also requires a certain critical mass of people, so it’s not always easy to do in the earliest stages of a guild’s development. But it is worth the effort put forth.

Be active and visible

Passive advertisement can often be as effective as outright advertisement, if not more so. This is the same principle as the open events mentioned above; if your guild is running something that people attend and like, they’re more likely to remember your guild positively. Just being active and helpful in the community of your game can often build up significant word of mouth alone.

Obviously, not everyone can be a top-level theorycrafter or run dozens of events per month, but even just taking part in discussions and being friendly can make a significant impact. Being active on a community site is an excellent way to keep your guild’s name out and notable without having to rely on shouting about yourself.

Of course, it comes with a caveat – just like in-game, anyone with your guild tag is representing your guild as a whole. If the people passively advertising your guild are contentious, nasty, or cruel, that’s what everyone will assume your guild as a whole is like, even if that’s not true. A bit of caution is well-advised, as a result.

If maintaining an active presence is a bit much, many official sites for online games have forums specifically dedicated to advertisements; posting a detailed advertisement that gets edited and bumped for major changes can often be a good form of quiet notification for people who are looking. As with the first point, you should be focusing on things your guild has that are unique rather than universal, but the core remains the same.

When you have to shout, do it quietly

MMORPGs almost always have guilds shouting their advertisements in cities. As discussed above, you want to do so in a way that focuses on what you do rather than generic traits, but there’s another important aspect: not trying to shout over anyone.

Place your advertisement in the intended chat channel, and then leave. Don’t do that again for another fifteen minutes at least, preferably half an hour to an hour. Enough time so that people are likely to see it, but not so often that it’s constantly buried in waves of chat. If the chat is super active, consider waiting and coming back at another time to advertise.

Again, what you want here is for people to know you’re around, not to be annoyed with your constant begging for members. Spacing out your advertisements helps accomplish that. It keeps your presence in the minds of those watching, but it does so in a way that suggests you’re calm about it. You’re not begging, you’re just asking people to come over, without any real urgency to it.

There are, of course, no certainties. It can be difficult for advertisements to reach the people you want. But if you’re trying to do so the right way, you can at least be certain that you’re not alienating the people you’re trying to attract.

5 Ways to Ensure You’re the Best Guild Member You Can Be

Focusing on progression in an MMO is hard, but it’s not just hard because of the content. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s safe to say that if you really want something down, you’ll get it down. Eventually.

It’s that “eventually” that starts to wear thin, though. Everyone knows you need to go in for another round of practice, this content won’t beat itself, but boy you’re not looking forward to another week of wiping, and the same problems keep happening, and you’re all struggling… and before you know it people just don’t want to be there anymore. The rewards are not worth the exhaustion, full stop.

Of course, officers do everything they can to help this. But you, as a member, can alsodo a lot to help make this happen. So let’s look at some of the ways to make sure that you’re being the best guild member you can be.
Do independent research

Part of an officer’s job is making sure that everyone involved in the progression team knows what they’re supposed to be doing, and hey, that’s great. But that does not mean that during the rest of the time you can slack off and ignore things. If anything, it means that there’s more onus on you to find out what you can be doing to improve your performance all around.

Take the time to do research on your own. Research your class mechanics and make sure you’re using the best build possible. Practice your rotation. Look for alternative strategies on bosses that are giving you problems. See if other people are stuck in the same spot and what they did to overcome that problem. Do yourself the favor of looking around and seeing if there are more resources out there to make your team better.

If you find a good alternate strategy, send it along to your officers. If you have more practice with your rotation, share it – not in a passive-aggressive way, just share on the forums that you overcame a problem and that others can use the same approach. Don’t try to take control of the guild away from the officers and the people who are actually in charge, but make a point of doing some of the lifting on your own rather than waiting for the officers to say that you have a problem.

Volunteer for what you can do

There are always things that need to be done in between progression attempts. Resources need to be restocked, guides need to be written and consolidated, people need to be reminded of the times, events need to be scheduled… it can be exhausting. And most of the time, the majority of that responsibility is on the officers, since… well, it’s their guild. So that makes sense.

Still, that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer to take some of the burden off of them. If you can gather some of those resources or handle the necessary calendar functions, that’s a burden off of the officers and more effort for them to focus on actually leading the guild. This is doubly true for things like calendar maintenance, necessary tasks that no one really wants to do but everyone wants done just the same.

Understand that this means you will probably be volunteering for some boring scut work and it won’t be particularly glamorous. It’s probably going to be tedious as all heck. But it also makes the guild as a whole run more smoothly over time, so that’s a good thing.

Understand and respond to guild needs

The hardest part of being a good guild member is when your guild has just cleared a difficult fight in Final Fantasy XIV, the loot is there, and you want to lay claim to exactly what you need… but you pass on it, because it’s a bigger upgrade for another part of the guild. There’s no shame in making a few choked noises over voice chat as it happens. But you also know it’s the right thing to do, because the small upgrade for you will be a huge upgrade for someone else and will lead to more success overall.

Responding to guild needs need not be that extreme; sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing crafting specializations or professions in Star Wars: The Old Republic to match what your guild needs rather than what you like to do. But the core philosophy is the same: you are part of a group, and your decisions are primarily based around what is good for the group, even if it doesn’t necessarily sync up with the stuff that’s best for you.

And yes, sometimes it means making choked noises over voice chat. Stop shy of singing “I Will Always Love You” in the midst of it, though.

Encourage your fellow members

Your officers are your authority in your guild. Whether or not they deserve that authority is another discussion but also doesn’t matter a whole heck of a lot; that’s the position they have, regardless. Praise coming from them is naturally going to feel more like your boss giving you a pat on the back. You, on the other hand, are not an officer; praise from you feels more like a co-worker acknowledging work done well.

This is one of those times when the source of a compliment matters almost as much as the complement itself. Encouraging your teammates doesn’t need to be a big thing – it can be as simple as telling someone that you can tell they’re doing good work, or reassuring someone that they got screwed by mechanics when they drop. It’s a matter of making the environment and atmosphere one of commiseration and camaraderie, that you’re all on the same team and you recognize their accomplishments.

What’s especially nice about this is that it tends to form a self-perpetuating loop – if one person is more free with compliments and praise, everyone else tends to follow suit, until everyone is praising one another and being supportive. It’s like a master plan to manipulate everyone into being helpful, it’s great.

Liven up the atmosphere

When I was working on Naxxramas with my guild many moons ago, we would often all burst into song before the Heigan fight. He was the dance boss, after all, and so we all wanted to be in the mood to dance. And sure, we still would occasionally wipe on him, but the fact that we were all going in and laughing about someone’s terrible rendition of “Video Killed the Radio Star” made things far less tense than they would have been otherwise.

Maybe you don’t sing; maybe you tell awful jokes or share puns or just rib one another. The important thing is that you work to make the atmosphere light and fun. Yes, you all need to be paying attention and put your game face on, but you don’t need to do that instead of having fun. You should be doing that while having fun.

Please note that intentionally failing an encounter is not “livening up the atmosphere,” it’s just being a jerk. Find ways of making people smile that are focused around humor rather than just forcing a wipe.

None of this, of course, will ensure that you’re successful as you work through progression. It just ensures that you’re doing your part to be the best guild member you can possibly be, offering your fellow players the best atmosphere you can bring to the table. At least if you still wipe, you know you’re doing all you can to avoid it… or take the sting off of the frustration.

The Best Games for Your Guild: MOBA Edition

Just a few weeks ago, we compiled a list of the best (read: most active) MMOs for guilds. But team play happens in more than just one genre. Although the word “guild” might be specific to MMOs, the need for a good team and an active community is not. So this time around, we’re going to shine the spotlight on some MOBA games that are perfect for you and your guild.

MOBAs are great for groups that want shorter play times and more competitive elements. They tend to be much more fast-paced and goal-oriented than MMOs, and don’t demand as much of a time commitment. (But we can’t promise you won’t willingly sink all your hours into them anyway.)  Continue reading The Best Games for Your Guild: MOBA Edition