Harness Your Followers
Welcome to this week’s lesson on Indie Marketing. This is the second part of a 5 week series that will teach you, as an indie game developer, the basics of marketing your projects and games. Last week, we touched on Networking and how important it is to not go alone. This week’s lesson focuses on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and how you can harness the power of as many people as you can.
What is a Social Network?
So, let’s start with the basics. Social networks/media are, by definition, any of the several websites online or services through which people create and maintain interpersonal relationships. That’s pretty broad, when you think about it, and that’s a good thing. Some of the more obvious ones are Facebook and Twitter, but we’ll be talking about some of the lesser-known ones later in this article as well.
The Power of a Hashtag
Social networks utilize the most primitive form of marketing: “Word of mouth”. These platforms help you share news, network new contacts, and rally the masses for whatever you may need. If you make something quality, people will follow you.
Each platform has their own rules and needs. And trust me when I say, “There’s plenty of rules.” Between proper manners, knowing all the right times to post, and hashtags, these can fill an article all on their own. So, I won’t bore you with too many of the intricacies.
I will tell you that hashtags are your best friend on multiple platforms. I recommend starting by making a list of every possible hashtag you will ever use. The usage of hashtags should be classy and more conservative on Twitter. There, you should be focusing no more than two or three per post for optimal focus. Learn the most optimal hashtags for each particular post. Opposite the spectrum, it’s generally a hashtag-a-palooza on Instagram, sending the picture of choice to as many eyes possible. Facebook has hashtags and it doesn’t hurt to add minor ones to focus a group, but it generally doesn’t help as much as other platforms.
Joining “Facebook Groups” is your best mode of info transportation on Facebook. Stay focused on your posts in these groups, though. The second someone gets out of line or betrays the individual group’s rules section, they become ridiculed and, in some cases, flat-out banned. That group is for only Unreal Engine developers, so make sure you only post projects relevant to Unreal. That group over there is tied to another group and bans for cross-posting to both. Sailing your ship through the Facebook sea is the quickest way to make haste in your journey. But, tread lightly, for these waters be dangerous.
Every Eye Possible
I follow a simple mantra when it comes to getting the word out which I call “Every Eye Possible” (or “EEP” for short). The thought process of EEP is that no person should go untold about your product. Some marketers refer to this as “carpet bombing” the audience. Leave no stone un-turned in your quest to get your product out there. Just because that particular person may not care, does not mean they won’t mention it to a friend that might because they remembered seeing it somewhere.
Sharing is the easiest way to get the word out. It’s an old fashioned style to marketing set to a digital age. The only way to achieve true EEP is to make sure other share your posts. Hashtags, which we discussed earlier, bring in a focus group directly looking for your post and those like it.
I discussed the idea of standing out from the crowd in Lesson 1. Your posts need to be eye-catching and have character. You are a human making a game, not a lifeless robot. Be comical. Be humorous. Interact with the trends. Show your audience that the person behind this awesome game or project is, you know, a person. As my mentor, Bill “The Game Doctor” Kunkel, taught me, “It’s not who you know, or even what you know. It’s who knows you. You can say you know everything in the world, but if they have no idea who you are, it’s not worth a thing.” This line will hold true throughout all five of these lessons and it definitely is true when it comes to your social media.
What Should I Have and Not Have?
This is the part where I tell you that social networking is hard and you’re going to hate it. There’s a few easy going platforms, but there is a lot to wade through. And to achieve EEP, you need to set up scheduling for every last one of them.
We’ve already discussed the need for Facebook and Twitter. Google+ and YouTube are necessary for those that want to show videos of their creations, create trailers, or show off behind the scenes work. This, additionally, applies to Twitch for those that want to stream it live. LinkedIn is a necessity for the professionals to keep in touch with other professionals. Reddit is a need for anyone, as well, due to the overwhelming power of that community.
Websites dedicated to your art are generally a good way to show off your projects as they are in progress. DeviantArt, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr are prime examples of places to put screenshots, concept art, or anything else. Post accordingly and don’t forget those hashtags.
There are a few websites out there that truly cater to game developers as well. Develteam, YUNOIA, and LikeMindedd (formerly Gamxin) focus their entire strength on the needs of the indie developers as opposed to being a generic platform. There are more upcoming websites that are joining the fray, like Project MQ. There have been multiple others that have come and gone over the years, but these ones are still around and solid to build community and followers within your peer group.
Paying for Viewership Isn’t a Sin
I’m going to start by saying that I never recommend paying for “likes” or “follows”. Not only does it completely ruin the ability to keep tabs on reports properly, it comes off incredibly shady and untrustworthy. With that being said, paying for sponsored advertising is a remarkable idea if you know how to do it properly.
Let’s face it. Facebook’s algorithms suck. You can create a business page and gain followers. But, due to the way Facebook works, most of those that actively “Like” your page will not see your posts. This is their way of making people need to pay real money to advertise their business. It’s underhanded, for sure, and I don’t commend their business tactics. I wouldn’t recommend paying for advertising if you have minimal followers. But, with a properly made campaign, making targeted strikes in Facebook Groups while promoting a sponsored ad can really boost a post to the highest degree.
Twitter, Youtube, Google, and so many others offer targeted advertising too. These are pretty straightforward and can help skyrocket a particular post or call to action. This just goes back to the EEP method. Carpet bomb the hell out of your potential audience. Seeing the same posts in different platforms really helps remembrance and brand recognition. Just try not to make it the same exact thing every time.
Everyone has different experiences, of course, when dealing with social media. But, take these tips with you and you’re likely to be successful in your marketing campaign. We’ll be continuing the next lesson on the importance of press releases. Just remember: “Every Eye Possible”.