Found a very nice article, you can find it here too. Social media is one of the many results of ability to easily connect with others given by the Internet. Social networks are also an Internet driven evolution (you can see the charts regarding top 10 US networks and blogs at MarketingCharts).
But the main activity over the Internet has also been transformed: gaming has evolved from hardcore online gaming limited to teenagers to casual gaming opened to everyone. Generating a vibrant environment for people to speak with each other and stay longer has become a standart with well-known examples: Xbox Live, the to come Playstation Home, the famous (but also dying) Second Life, or Facebook (the platform being the environment and applications the different games).
Looking deeper into the gaming market to extract best practices over socialization process (which is an easy going when you’re playing online) is the path brands should walk to improve their brand image and above all make people speak about them and engage deeper with them so that they provide you with interesting insights and ideas.
Creating several consumer clusters through inviting to play games related to separated topics to identify and categorize them is one idea that has been provided by ingame chatrooms and game mods. One other big idea is to create addiction by creating a leveling-up competition between community members. It doesn’t need to be marketed, you just have to put it into your community roadmap, but be sure to leak the word to community power users (that’s an easy move, you got the sign-in stats), they’ll do the rest for you.
The last part is more easily said than done, but would definitly do the difference: leave the community you generated to community members. Finding the right moment to switch, the right people to become voluntary community moderators, and to manage all that within your digital house are the item to watch closely. Doing this free you from the hard and not enhancing work, giving you time to analyse and totally leverage your community. Why? By that act, on one hand you’re telling your consumers they’re part of the company, they’re trusted members and brand ambassadors, and on the other and you’ve created your best sellers team and your viral/ word of mouth network you can activate any time.
Check the examples of MMORPGs to get more information (World of Warcraft, Silk Road, Everquest) as well as hardcore games like Starcraft, Counter Strike, and many others. These community management patterns would eventually be the one you’ll see tomorrow at your (competitor ?) brand community. To get up-to-date and find some good insights from social games, bookmark InsideSocialGames.