Monday morning I was on Facebook to see if Mayfair Games had posted my review of Star Trek Catan which they did because (thank you) they understand social media much better than just about all the rest of the of the board game publishing companies and I noticed in their social media posting that they were at an ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville just one block away from the Starbucks I was sitting at working so I jumped online and registered and high-tailed it down there to check out what was going on!

It was a great event with lots of fun toys and board games which is of course what I was interested in and a great energy with very friendly vendors, store owners, reps and staff. Granted most of the product is aimed at children but some of the games were amazing no matter what the target market was and real credit is due to the designers on their originality and the ability to put together games that allowed for different levels of playability at the same time so any age can play the challenge will better fit each player without the parent or adult having to throw a game for the children to win. There was some great solo player games, a few original party games that looked like a blast, one being Donkey from Cleveland Kids and Spontuneous from Spontuneous Games Inc. It was amazing to see so many great educational, fun toys and games. Things have come a long way since I was a kid.

As mention earlier Mayfair Games had a booth there demoing Catan Jr. which is my daughters favorite board game and a game more for adults called Five Points that looked very interesting. Asmodee Games had a presence there as well for both kids games like Timeline, another of my daughters favorites and 7 Wonders which is a great gateway game for the older crowd. I’ll have reviews of many of these games out soon so stay tuned for that.

Like any sales convention, you can tell who is experienced by their booth personality and who isn’t. There were a handful of people who didn’t try engage anyone as they walked by and others that were all about demoing their product which is the whole reason they are there. Creating interested and sales is the whole point of the convention. There were some very talented sales people there and that was fun to watch!

I spent many hours talking to reps and publishers and for the most part across the board whether it be through my normal connections or just talking with this crowd, many really don’t understand or utilize social media to even a 10th of its potential. Sure many of them have witter accounts and Facebook pages but most publishers just post once a day whatever the product that day is and they never engage their fans, reviewers or anyone. Social media is about engagement. This industry has got to learn to embrace this medium and utilize it before board games become passe again. All these companies have a marketing person who might have to do it all, but that is no excuse. Mayfair Games is great about posting their reviews (thank you from all of us reviewers,) Catalyst Game Labs is the best that I have come across so far that understand social media in this industry with email blog updates that are constantly engaging and interesting, Twitter posts with replies to their followers, constant Facebook updates and most of it isn’t a sales push, it’s an attempt to engage their customer base.

Learning to use social media properly is critical to any business today. If the manpower isn’t available, there are of course options like interns to help run it, but there just isn’t any excuse any more. Social media has been around to long to not have put a plan in place. Remember, it’s not about how many likes are on a Facebook page, it’s about how many people are talking about you and engaging with you. I can’t wait for the day with publishers engage with their customers and help blow the door of our favorite hobby.