Smart ways to use social media while promoting indie games
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram - video games marketing is directly connected to social media. Sadly, social media are becoming less and less accessible: theyâ€™re moderating content, introduce algorithms, cut the reach, aggressively sell ads. So whatâ€™s the best way to reach the broad audience directly and without costs?
What you need is a little bit of cunning and some ingenuity to use the social media and their tools creatively.Â
Below youâ€™ll find the most interesting solutions that weâ€™ve tested at b-interaktive during the campaign of Alpacalypse - a mobile game from the 8-bit era.
1. Celebrate the release with a Facebook event
Despite the fact that having a fan pageÂ is a must nowadays, to get truly spectacular results you need qualified specialists, good publish plan and regularity - elements that are really hard to get in an indie studio. Falling reach (reach is the amount of people whoâ€™ll see the post), huge amount of information and lack of good ideas for an absorbing interaction with the fans are the reason for all this.
A solution for that might be using other functions than the most popular fan page and groups. Iâ€™m talking about the events, or, to be more precise, creating an event connected to the game release date.
This solution has many pros:
- youâ€™re promoting a game, not necessarily the developer - not everyone knows about the creator of the game and not every studio cares about being recognized. Event has only one goal - to inform about the release date;
- increased visibility - members will get notified about all the information posted by the eventâ€™s creator (theyâ€™re on by default) - youâ€™re sure that theyâ€™ll know about everything thatâ€™s important;
- automatic notification before the launch - an hour before the eventâ€™s date every member will get a push notification on his or her mobile device (if the Facebook app is installed) or a web version of the notification. Thereâ€™s no easier method to reach all those who are interested in your title at the same time. Remember to set the release date as the eventâ€™s start date!
2. Use the power of the native video
Lately, Facebook has been emphasizing videos by supporting native clips (posted directly, not linked from Youtube or Vimeo) with reach bigger than usual.
Instead of posting another status with a nice graphic and link attached Â itâ€™s much better idea to focus on teasers, trailers and making-offs. Especially since you can put a link to a landing page or app store site at the end of the video.
1. Use hashtag events
Hashtags arenâ€™t merely sorting the Twitter contents; theyâ€™re gathering whole communities around themselves. Gamedev industry created many hashtags used to exchange information, present work and promote own titles.
If you care about better visibility on Twitter and in the gamdev community in general (especially the English-speaking one) itâ€™s good to start with the most important ones:
- #gamedev, #indiedev - hashtags followed by many bots. Bots are retweeting (to all followers) texts with this tag what results in great visibility;
- #wipwednesday - hashtag for â€˜work in progressâ€™
- #screenshotsaturday - saturdayâ€™s screenshot party
- #IndieDevHour - weekly event devoted to discussing various aspects of the game development. It even has its own page: www.indiedevhour.com;
- #igdev, #alldev, #gamedesign, #iosgames, #androidgames - other interesting hashtags.
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA
Thereâ€™s more to the internet then just social media and game development industry is also present in some of the less mainstream places.
1. Become best friends with Reddit
One of the most popular social news portals is also a place of experience exchange between many indie game developers. Reddit community can provide you with many tips and its members might become the first customers/players of the newly created title. Just like any other community, Reddit requires some carefulness and manners, not to mention that a promotion of a game shouldnâ€™t be limited to a few marketing keywords thrown at the most popular subreddits (subforums).
2. How about crowdspeaking?
What is crowdspeaking? To cut the long story short itâ€™s using the strength of the fans, followers and people supporting the project to propagate information about it in social media.
Itâ€™s not about personally convincing every single friend to publish information. There are crowdspeaking platforms that can do this work for us.
After creating a campaign (services of this kind are quite similar to tools like Kickstarter) you just need to invite players to support the project. By joining the event as a supporter youâ€™re automatically agreeing to publishing information about the project on your social media profile at the exact date and hour that was chosen by the creator of the event. What really matters here is not money but rather your social reach (number of followers, fans and friends).
Thatâ€™s it! Information compiled on private profiles of many people on the launch day can bring unexpected results or even help you reach journalists (you never know who has a journalist friend on Facebook).
Today, there are only two platforms that matter - HeadTalker and Thunderclap. Both of them have some pros and cons. Here youâ€™ll find a very good comparison.