Robert Bowling, Creative Strategist for Infinity Ward, also known as @fourzerotwo uses Twitter in a capacity similar to Major Nelson’s. As the first line of communication with fans, and disgruntled gamers, Bowling sends out updates on patches, bug fixes, downloadable content details and other pieces of information about Infinity Ward’s latest games. During the panel, Bowling gave an example of how Twitter has worked as an information gathering tool – he first found out about the infamous javelin glitch from a user’s response to him and as soon as he verified the glitch for himself he notified the development team and a fix was immediately under way. That kind of instant feedback is gathered by Bowling and then presented to other people within Infinity Ward or Activision be it marketing, development, or the people responsible for the pricing of the Stimulus Package Map Pack that was just released. While he cannot respond to every single message sent his way, especially the vulgar ones, he uses Twitter as an immediate point of contact with the people who matter the most, the people actually playing these games.
The other member of this panel, McKenzie Eakin, or @MacheteBetty represented the Twitter account for @xboxsupport. Their utilization of Twitter differs greatly from that of Hyrb or Bowling as they function almost entirely as a two-way street. During the panel, Eakin cited Comcast (@comcastcares) and Best Buy (@twelpforce) as two existing models of customer support that they are modeling their strategies to emulate. Xbox Support has a 5 minute target response time for any inquiries sent their way. There are currently six people managing the account, as indicated by the initials at the end of each message sent out to users – ^JC, ^MB, ^AS among others. Along with basic support for individual users they also keep followers updated on any technical difficulties the network might be experiencing, like if a certain map pack’s release is wreaking havoc among Xbox Live users.
Each of these strategies to use Twitter as an effective communication tool varies depending on the man-power and the overall intent of information dissemination. The point of their panel was to show that while approaches might be different, the idea that critical, valuable information be available to followers was a key point made by all three panelists. With the release of the Stimulus Package Map Pack for Modern Warfare 2, we saw how each of these approaches handled communicating with the public as the situation went from bad to Internet Meltdown in a hurry.
Thanks for the feedback! I’m going to be sitting with production & giving you updates as they come regarding when you can expect to play. 11:13 AM Mar 30th
Alright, thanks to @thevowel and the team over at #xboxlive – the #MW2 title update is now live (just downloaded it), the DLC is good to go. 12:05 PM Mar 30th
Just connected to a game. Playing on Crash now. Give it a go yourself and let me know how it goes! 1:08 PM Mar 30th
See people. You’re witnessing why Twitter is amazing. I’m getting an instant consensus on what 100,000+ people are experiencing first hand! 1:26 PM Mar 30th
Behold! The power of feedback. We’ll be integrating the new maps into all playlists as well as enabling Double XP for all playlists tomorrow 8:13 PM Mar 30th
Bowling was able to receive instant feedback throughout the entire process and more importantly broadcast instant updates to keep gamers as informed as possible. Sure, the Internet can be a scary place and Twitter is loaded with plenty of nonsense and spam. But this is an example proving that Twitter can be the next generation of customer support. This is how social media can make a positive impact on a company’s ability to communicate with the public when it matters most.