Despite often being the spawn point of many antisocial guys, at the end of the day your LGS is still a place of social interest, especially because many of the hobbies there require more than one person. Even if you visit Gaming Stores just to buy and paint models you probably would enjoy meeting other people who can appreciate your paintjob, right?
With LGS's being centers for social interaction, what better way to improve this interaction by creating a group in an online social network like Facebook? Nowadays most people have a Facebook account and creating a group OR an account is absolutely free and easy like using Smoke Launchers on a Rhino..
N.B: You do not have to own the LGS store to open up an "official" Facebook Group. As long as you think you know what you're doing and you have the approval of the owner (sit down and explain to them the pros and cons of having a Facebook Group) you can create the group by yourself. I strongly recommend all of the owners of the LGS to join too, after which you can make them Admins. It's what I did!
So what are some of the pros and cons of creating a Facebook Group for your favorite store?
Easy to make, easy to join: Choose a name for your group, add a description and invite people. You can invite people in plethora of ways if they are not your Facebook friends already and when new members join they can invite others to the group.
Easy to keep Private: I know a lot of people who love this hobby but would rather not share their affection for little plastic dudemen with their co-workers or friends. That's okay. Make the group Closed, so only members can see what's going on inside or who the other members are. I'm the administrator of my group and so far it's working just fine.
Easy to maintain: Seriously, you and all of the other admins will hardly ever have to do anything at all. Inviting people you know and making sure things don't get out of hand by deleting inappropriate posts is all you have to do. The rest if just being your usual self and a hobbyist willing to make his gaming community grow and prosper..
Helps people be a part of the community: This is pretty darn important. I found out that after creating the Facebook Group, people started "friending" each other all over the place, even though they already knew each other and had been playing for a year and a half. Now you have people communicating with each other outside the store and having an easier time setting up games to play. It just gives the lazy gamers that little push they often need. It's easier to send someone a message on Facebook than calling them or even sending a text.
Great for sharing information and announcing events: Many stores have Calendars that they print out and give to people so they know when something big is happening. The problem is that this method is a waste of paper, there's never enough copies to give when you need them and people are very likely to lose them. Not to mention that for many individuals it's already hard to make the drive and allocate the time to get that calendar.. Here are some things you could share on the Facebook group:
- Monthly calendar: Make it so people can see all of your major events with the click of a button! Saves paper and ink and people will get the calendar as soon as you release it.. Also great for announcing store hour changes whether temporary or permanent, even dates on which the store is not going to be opened.
- Pictures from events: Best way to immortalize some of the funniest achievements and mishaps that always happen during events and even casual games. Lets people see the hobby even when not in your store. Let's be honest, this is a visual hobby, so telling someone how your Space Wolves just destroyed your buddy's I.G is not as satisfying as sharing with everyone a picture of your Thunderwolves on top of 3 wrecked Leman Russes... >=) Here's an example from my GW Facebook Group:
|Sisters of Battle rubbing sticks and stones with the Scouts..|
- Events: Not only can you share your events with the calendar, but you can create Events and invite people to them. A Facebook Event is used as a reminder and a countdown to your tournament or a contest and people can discuss any and all details in it. This is not only useful for sharing the monthly, BIG events that the store owner has cooked up, but all the independent and casual events that regulars want to run! Not only is this a great way to post all the fluff and details that shape your event but also any diagrams, galactic maps. You can then easily message the participants and give them secret objectives or goodies for the campaign you are running!
- Great for scheduling.. anything!: Now you can post which days you have off during the week and ask if people would like to throw down. This is especially useful for busy members of the Group that work a lot or don't want to make the drive and then stumble upon an empty store.. Even better, if someone DOES want to play you, you can easily discuss how many points you want to field, which (if any) expansion you feel like playing. Heck, you could even come up with some interesting fluff beforehand and create appropriate objectives.
- Makes things "interesting": Where I go to, people love to talk smack game-wise and fluff-wise. We are not competitive at all, but it is always nice when you get a chance to remind a Space Marine player that his miniatures are eunuchs on steroids or that Guardsmen are just meat-shields from backwater planets.. Many people love to play along and others will go to great lengths to defend their army's honor. As long as it's kept appropriate it's always funny to watch people make fun of each other, joke around and even sometimes.... rage. I know I'm guilty for starting a lot of these...
- Useful for all aspects of the hobby: The Facebook group is always a good place to ask questions about your hobby. From creating a balanced-list, dealing with specific armies and compositions to tutorials on making terrain and paint schemes. The internet has them all and sharing links is much easier online. If you are reading this, chances are you also have your own blog and know about tons of amazing articles that your friends would love to read. This is just a natural way of sharing them with everyone..
- I am 12 and what is this: Just like any other place on the internet, a Facebook Group could easily get out of hand and inappropriate Slaaneshi topics could corrupt even the purest. Although, chances are if someone is young enough to have a Facebook account they should be able to deal with the contents of your LGS's Facebook Group. It's mostly common sense, really. Make sure people don't post inappropriate, hurtful stuff... But you already knew that. Just enforce it. You probably shouldn't let children under the age of 13 join, just to be safe..
- Over 9,000 Notifications: If a user is using all of the default setting, they will receive an e-mail notification every time someone writes a new post or uploads a picture. I know that a couple of my friends have Blackberries and thus they also get notifications on their phones. This isn't your fault really, it's just Facebook being a social network.. That being said, there are many ways of dealing with this, but it's nothing YOU can do. Your members can change their Facebook settings to stop notifications for specific events or create a filter that recognizes all e-mails from the group and automatically deletes, marks as spam or marks as read any group notification e-mails.
And the loyalty of its members!