Jonathan “BlackBeard” Schmid – OpTic Gaming – Building the Greenwall

When OpTic Gaming was acquired by Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman and Chris Chaney in November 2017, the premier esports organisation underwent a host of changes – and one of those was with its social media. OpTic Gaming is now one of many brands and companies under the Infinite Esports & Entertainment holding company, so it has more resources available at its disposal.

Jonathan "BlackBeard" Schmid
Jonathan “BlackBeard” Schmid, Infinite Esports & Entertainment

In an attempt to leverage OpTic Gaming’s huge social media audience and to keep fans up to date with its seemingly ever-growing number of teams, Jonathan “BlackBeard” Schmid was brought on board by Infinite.

We discuss how BlackBeard found himself being responsible for building the Greenwall – the self-dubbed title of OpTic Gaming’s community – and the challenges that have come along with the role.

Esports Insider: First of all, I’d love to know what you did in your career – and perhaps, spare time – that led you to be hired for Infinite Esports & Entertainment, effectively becoming the voice of OpTic Gaming?

Jonathan “BlackBeard” Schmid: The way I got brought on was total happenstance. I have a background in Social Media Management at the corporate level and with a Rep. Management tech startup but my passion has always been gaming. I took a look at what I was doing as a job and thought “Why am I just doing this for other people?” So I started trying to build my following on Instagram using game clips and short videos with the intent of eventually growing a Twitch following large enough to warrant quitting my actual job.

Through that page I met some incredible people, one of which was OlManMakowski (a former Halo Pro) and when he got brought on at Infinite, he kindly let me know there was a position available for social. I never thought that a contact I met through Instagram and ran (well… attempted) Trials of Osiris carries with would end up with a legitimate job opportunity, never mind one in esports. Now, I get to wake up every day excited to collaborate with driven individuals who are dedicated to taking esports to new heights.

ESI: Is it hard living up to the high standards set by the Greenwall? They never had their social media expectations met prior to you taking control of the accounts, and they’re a rather particular bunch, so do you feel the pressure to meet each and every demand or do you stick to what you know works?

BlackBeard: What about it works for me? I mean, I come from Call of Duty, and it happened that I was good at it, and I enjoy it, so.

“We all try to make it a point to leverage the community as much as possible”

In all reality, I think for how busy Hector and Ryan were throughout the history of OpTic, they did an exceptional job at keeping everything current and still providing ways for the community to connect with them. Moving forward, I think the right path lies somewhere in between what the Greenwall and esports, in general, is used to seeing, and what traditional sports franchises do. There is a happy medium where we can still have fun, yet generally, operate on a professional and engaging level.

ESI: OpTic Gaming’s fanbase has a very active Reddit presence and I’ve noticed you’re rather present on there yourself – do you often look to the fans to work out exactly what they want to see, or do you just stick to what you know has worked in the past?

BlackBeard: We all try to make it a point to leverage the community as much as possible. When we learn there is a generally accepted change they’d like, we try to implement it as best we can. People who habitually hang out and engage on the subreddit are our core audience, they actively seek out a community to be a part of, they are the ones most engaged. They don’t settle for just getting fed their content by an algorithm, they seek out new ways to contribute and that’s extremely valuable.

ESI: What’s it like trying to drive engagement and build a bigger audience on social channels that already have such a huge following? Was it intimidating jumping in when OpTic Gaming already had millions of followers?

BlackBeard: Oh my god yes. Have you ever said something to 3.36 Million people before? Do you know how fast someone catches your grammatical errors? It started out as terrifying. Now? Not so much.

It’s fun and sometimes difficult to drive engagement on channels that large. A fair number of the posts we make on the main page are match announcements, which are awesome and I’m happy to do, but those match announcements actually lower the relevancy of our other posts, since the match posts only really appeal to people who are fans of that particular game. Most of our non-match announcement posts fight an algorithmic uphill battle to get onto news feeds.

I want to take that next step and show the human sides of our competitors

So while it’s what the community wants (fair and equal recognition across all of OpTic’s teams) it really can make things hard for other initiatives we have. The way we’ve tried to combat that is with video content, which gets much better engagement universally. Last month we set an org record for the number of video views on Twitter in a 28 day period and this month we smashed that record.

Output and engagement like that just simply would not be possible without the infrastructure and teams Infinite has helped put into place. Our creative team is crushing it, our video content team is crushing it, there’s just such great work coming out of everyone here and it culminates in what we see as a very successful presence on social that’s just going to get better with time.

ESI: With having numerous teams come tournaments and matches taking place in different countries, and subsequently, at different times. Does having to provide updates on games all round the clock create a challenge in terms of engagement?

BlackBeard: The answer to that is yes, but it’s sort of natural. It makes sense that a match announcement post for PUBG playing in South Korea at 3AM CDT, will do far worse than the same post made at prime time. I keep my expectations low for those middle of the night posts since engagement will always be low for posts made under conditions like that given the predominantly NA audience we have.

ESI: Is there anything you’d like to implement into OpTic Gaming’s social presence that you’ve not got round to yet?

BlackBeard: So, so much. While I do handle OpTic Gaming’s social presences, I also manage the social team which we’re still in the process of building out. Because we touch all of the esports brands at Infinite in some way or another, we haven’t been able to do nearly as much as I want to with social specific content for OpTic, the sort of content that helps bridge the gap between the Greenwall and the teams they support.

I want to take that next step and show the human sides of our competitors. I think Chad Read who currently runs the Houston Outlaws social channels, has done an exceptional job at accomplishing that and it’s something we’re looking to replicate with Charlene on the OpTic League of Legends channels and the main OpTic channels as well.

We’re lucky in that many of OpTic’s teams are centrally located in our offices right next to the teams that help build such incredible content on a daily basis. Safe to say you can expect us to fully start capitalizing on that in the near future. (But you know, if you happen to know someone who’s interested in a social media position in esports, feel free to have them hit up [email protected])