At the recent Game Developers Conference Europe (August 3-4, 2015), top recruiting manager Candace Walker of Naughty Dog gave a presentation entitled “Career Bootcamp: The Benefits of Building an Online Presence and How To Do It.” While her talk was not aimed at freelancers such as game composers, some of her strategies and recommendations are worth considering.
I explored some of these social media approaches in my book, A Composer’s Guide to Game Music (chapter 14, page 246), but Candace adds a new perspective to the topic from her vantage as a recruiter. I’ll be exploring some of the best highlights from her talk in this blog.
But first, let’s watch a short video created by best selling author Erik Qualman, author of What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube. This video focuses on the power of social media, in case any of us were unsure of what impact it might have on our professional lives:
The Goals of Social Presence
Candace Walker began her talk at GDC Europe by emphasizing four important guiding considerations that should shape our online efforts in the realm of social media.
- What is our goal? What are we trying to achieve? As game audio freelancers, we want our potential clients to be aware of our availability and (hopefully) our awesome skills as game composers! We may also want to reach out to the game audio community at large, contributing to the overall body of knowledge and/or making friends and contacts. Whatever our ultimate purpose in regards to social media, we should always define our goals specifically and keep them at the forefront of our online efforts.
- Who is our audience? For game composers, the online audience may be composed of potential clients, fellow composers, game press, game music fans, etc. Different messages are meant to reach different audiences, and we need to keep this in mind.
- Does our intended message have value for its audience? Social media has parallels with consumer culture, in that an online audience is investing something of worth in order to obtain something valuable. In this case, the investment takes the form of time, and the valuable return may be educational or entertaining content. With any social media message, we need to evaluate the inherent value of our content. Will our audience think it’s valuable enough? Will our message be worth their time?
- Does our intended message have the potential to incite conflict? This one is a tricky issue for us to ponder. If we’re simply reaching out to potential clients, the issue of unexpected conflict shouldn’t be particularly problematic. However, if we’re discussing the craft of game audio in social media and we suddenly stumble across a contentious topic that starts ruffling feathers, we need to take a breath and consider the possible ramifications. In this case, Candace advises us to take a step back and favor the cautious approach.
At this point, Candace continued her presentation by taking her audience on a tour of the most famous and popular social media platforms.
Candace tells us that having a YouTube channel and producing videos can be useful for the game industry professional with expertise to share. YouTube tutorials and educational videos are fantastic ways to spread knowledge. As game composers, we can avail ourself of this avenue of social media outreach by producing educational videos that explore important skills, or tutorial videos that explain the use of vital game audio tools.
According to Candace, this social media platform is growing in usefulness to game industry recruiters. Pinterest allows a user to set up a “pinboard” of relevant links that fall within a single subject of interest.
Using Facebook as our conduit for professional outreach is entirely possible, Candace assures us. However, we have to be clear about our purpose on Facebook. If we’re on Facebook in a professional capacity, then we have to refrain from sharing too many personal posts. Candace warns us against diluting our message with day-to-day observations and pet peeves. Our initial goals for our social media presence should help us make decisions about what to post.
This social media platform is Candace’s #1 tool for finding new talent. According to Candace, LinkedIn has the potential to put us on the radar of our industry colleagues, and can deliver vital information about our services to potential clients. In her presentation, Candace advises that we complete our LinkedIn profiles as thoroughly as possible, including all the relevant information about our experience in the industry and our skills. An added side benefit is the ability of the LinkedIn site to reformat the content of a user’s profile page into a serviceable résumé that we can then use to woo potential clients.
Candace ended her presentation by recommending the social media strategies of several of her colleagues at Naughty Dog. Here are some of the links she provided:
Winifred Phillips is an award-winning video game music composer whose most recent project is the triple-A first person shooter Homefront: The Revolution. Her credits include five of the most famous and popular franchises in video gaming: Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, Total War, God of War, and The Sims. She is the author of the award-winning bestseller A COMPOSER’S GUIDE TO GAME MUSIC, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. As a VR game music expert, she writes frequently on the future of music in virtual reality video games. Follow her on Twitter @winphillips.