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Indie Game Marketing: A love story - Part 4 [Practical Stuff - Facebook, #screenshotsaturday and your list of contacts]

by Johan Toresson on 11/25/13 05:38:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


This is the fourth and last part of my ongoing series about marketing for indie game developers - you can read the first part, second and third part here: Indie Game Marketing: A love story - Part 1 [Getting a solid base] , Indie Game Marketing: A love story - Part 2 and 3 [Getting in touch with Journalists, Fans and some Guerilla Marketing]

Johan Toresson (@jtoresson, [email protected])

Gameport (Blekinge Business Incubator)

Gameport @ Facebook


Thanks to everyone who’ve shared their thoughts on marketing, the indie scene, post-mortems and other quality stuff freely on the web. Some extra love to Studio Total, the Wolfire team, Kieron Gillen, Brian Baglow, Rami Ismail and Simon of Pixel Prospector for continuously producing new and interesting content and thoughts. Also, thanks to Gameport and Blekinge Business Incubator for giving me the time to gather data and take my time to write this.

Part 4: Practical tips and tricks

“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.” – Jay Baer (Social Media Strategist)
“More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging – in short, more word of mouth” – Gary Vaynerchuk (The thank you economy)
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” - Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)

So you got a homepage, a blog, a twitter and a facebook page for your company. You’re posting good content, showing off both your team and your game and have written a good post about how to solve some of the issues you’ve come upon when working in Maya/max and also elaborated on why you’re working on a linux port even if the market seem small in relation to the others. Still you’re below a hundred likes and have very little active users on your facebook. Even fewer people active in the comments on your blog. You’re starting to ponder exactly what brand of bullshit this is, and why the fuck you’ve put down hours of work on this.

First a little reminder. “This isn’t ‘Field of Dreams’, you are not Kevin Costner, if you build it they will not come.” –Edward Rumley (COO @ Chillingo (EA))

Just producing content isn’t good enough. You won’t automagically get a larger audience. There’s no guarantees that people will find your blog even if they’re inputting the exact problem you’ve written about in the google machine. It takes time. Most of the time it takes a long time. This is one of the main reasons you’ve got to start doing this in due time (read: early). By cementing your presence online, becoming an appreciated source of information on Reddit and continuously writing high quality content posts on your blog people will start to show – but to speed up that process there are a few tricks that might work. It ain’t a guarantee for sudden viral success, but it beats enjoying the feel of your chair while hoping someone might share your latest photo and get someone else to look at it who also feels like sharing and that person also just happens to have Kieron Gillen or Robert Florence in amongst their friends. Hoping that things will work out and/or believing that just creating content will be good enough is not good enough.

So to get that facebook page up to speed I’ll present an easy flow chart on how to widen your audience.

Something that might be good to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t look at other indies as “competition” in any classical sense of the word. You’re not Pepsi. 2D Boy isn’t your Coca Cola. Rather, look at yourself as a small store in a larger town – recommend the stores you prefer to do your shopping in yourself and maintain good relationships with the other store owners and they might just do the same for you. That way you both gain customers, larger possibilities to do what you want and you’re helping to further the indie scene in general. Be an asset, not an asshat.

Ask your friends to share your stuff and like everything that’s written/posted on your page. (That includes you yourself as well.)

This sounds incredibly basic, but lots of people tend to drop some stuff on their FBpage and then… well… Go for a coffee I guess? By sharing your stuff and likeing what’s written on your company page you increase the reach of your posts to the friends who have yet to like your FBpage (what kinda friends do you have really?) and by simply asking a couple of friends to share/comment/like what’s being written you create incitement for others to take part of the conversation or sharing the picture. As Zuckerberg said – it’s a well known fact that something a friend recommends will be more credible than any awesomely cool billboard ad in the world. Personal recommendation > Anonymous commercial ad.

Everybody obviously won’t sign up for your personal word of mouth street team, but if you yourselves are active and engaged in what’s being written and personally explain what it’d mean for you and your company if your friends do like/comment/share what you’re posting then your reach and your fans will increase. In time. If you’re posting interesting stuff that is – you’re not a billboard ad, and neither is your FBpage.


Hashtags on twitter can be/are incredibly useful for reaching a larger group of people (#indiedev #indiegame !) and every Saturday quite the few developers tweet one/a few screenshots of where they are in their development phase. It could be concept art, in game shots, pictures from a brainstorming session unt so weiter – the whole point is to create a narrative that people can follow to see a game grow and become the final product. #screenshotsaturday simply collects pictures with that hashtag and presents them on a page. Basic stuff, but it has been noted by indie static, and reddit and it keeps on growing on both the developer and audience side of things.

Grow your list of contacts

Or address book, mailing list or what have you. An excel book/maxbulk mailer document with email addresses, twitter handles, games/genres the journalist likes, what platforms said journalist operates on and in what publications the journalist appears in is key to quickly be able to reach out to relevant journalists with information when needed. We talked about this a bit earlier, remember?

To fill your books with email addresses you seldom need more than basic knowledge of the google fu. Most journalists have either a) an email address tied to the site they’re writing for, b) a home page with their email or c) a twitter where you could just ask them for their email (in a non-socially awkward way). If they’re totally of the grid you could start by checking the paper publications they appear in and call the office and ask for an address, or you’d just have to go with the basic news/[email protected] which usually is found somewhere on said publications site. The best way to get an address is obviously while sharing a beer and having a talk after a conference, but lacking that then scouring the web is the way to go.

This is really something you should start with immediately when you start working on your concept, and it really never ends. Fifteen minutes on the bus, an hour on the train, half an hour before you hit the sack. By constantly getting new contact info and updating your books you make sure that you don’t need to find the first 30 relevant journalists/bloggers in the middle of your last crunch before going golden, and you don’t need to ponder on how to get in touch with the 150 largest non-english speaking sites – everything is already in the books. Being an early bird here is the difference between sitting down with 20 cold email addresses to people who never heard from you and having a nice relation with 30 journalists/bloggers/let’s play-tubers that you’ve already talked about your game with, and who have shown interest in getting their hands on any playable build you might put out.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization

Work in progress [I currently don’t know enough to write anything of decent substance. In the future there’ll be a section about this here though. Maybe a chapter. Who knows.
If you do know, and want to add your knowledge to the paper, feel free to contact me @ [email protected] ]

Reddit and the reddiquette

Work in progress [If you do have substantial information, and want to add your knowledge to the paper, feel free to contact me @ [email protected] ]


Sources/Good Reads

Gamasutra - Features - Building Buzz for Indie Games

The Big List Of Indie Game Marketing « PixelProspector – the indie goldmine

presskit() - spend time making games, not press

marketing - Where to promote your indie game? - Game Development Stack Exchange

An Indie Game Developer’s Marketing Checklist (Including Portable Formats) | Gamedevtuts+

Marketing Your Indie Game: The Single Most Important Thing That No One Knows How to Do | Gamedevtuts+

GDC Vault - Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers

Indie Game Girl | Indie Game Developer Free Marketing Resource

Promoter – Track press about your games and apps. Automagically.

Games Marketer | Video Games Marketing, Promotion and Monetisation

Gamasutra: Mike Rose's Blog - The Idiot's Guide to Marketing Your Indie Game

Indie Game PR On A Shoestring | WE MAKE THE COPS LOOK DUMB

Develop 2012: Brian Baglow on how indies can master the art of marketing | news | Develop Brighton | - The Weblog Ask IndieGames: How Do I Get You Guys To Pay Attention To My Press Release?

Press tips for iOS game and app devs | Revert to Saved: A blog about design, gaming and technology

Indie Games Summit: 2D Boy/Polytron’s top 10 ways to market your indie game – Offworld

“Building Awareness Is A Huge Step”: Indie Game Marketing Advice From Phil Hassey | The Indie Game Magazine - Indie Game Reviews, Previews, News & Downloads

Gamasutra - Features - The Basic Marketing Plan For Indie Games

Games Press: The resource for games journalists

GDC Austin: Wolfire's PR Tips - Wolfire Games Blog

100% Marketing Success Tips For Indie Games | WE MAKE THE COPS LOOK DUMB

Gamasutra: Howard Tsao's Blog - Indie Game Contests - To Enter Or Not To Enter

Promoter – Track press about your games and apps. Automagically.

Tales of the Rampant Coyote: 10 Quick-and-Dirty Indie Game Marketing Tips, Part I

Lost Garden: Bursty Indie Sales Cycles

Google Analytics for Software Sellers

Zero Budget Indie Marketing Guide |

Gamasutra - News - GDC: Wolfire's Guide To Indie PR

How we handle our social networks | MoaCube

Kieron Gillen's Workblog » How To Use And Abuse The Gaming Press And How The Gaming Press Wants To Use and Abuse You.

RunJumpDev - Ben Kuchera - November 2011 - YouTube

Eight things all indie developers should do when they talk to the press | Hookshot Inc.

How To Contact Press (And Increase Chances To Get Press Coverage) « PixelProspector – the indie goldmine

GDC Vault - Effective Marketing For Indie Game Developers


This was the final part of this series, but as it is a WIP I hope that I'll be able to update it with more parts in the future! If you feel like reading it/downloading it all in one PDF you can get it here on SCRIBD!

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