HOW-TO: Social Media Community Management For Indie Game Developers

21 02 2012

Being a small business owner is not easy. Doing it in a creative field like game development doesn’t make it easier. Time is the most precious resource that an indie game developer has, and spending it wisely is key. As you develop your next awesome game, remember to build an audience for the game as you do dev.

Know Your Market

You can’t get word out about yourgame without knowing about where your market meets. And there are lots of players, and building a strong community will help attract them to your game.

Consider the following:

  • Facebook – nearly 1 billion people
  • Twitter – researching hashtags
  • Google+ – not solid enough for a small business to jump on to at this point, in my humble opinion.
  • Forums – search for forums around the games you work on – word games? check other word game sites
  • Other national social networks (like Orkut in Brazil or RenRen in China)

It’s ok to be a noob

Yoda was wrong, there is absolutely a “try” in social media. Social media is very much about trial and error and testing what your community likes and engages with. It will take time. Here is where you begin:

  • Invite people in your network
  • Share meaningful content, share it out from your new twitter/facebook to your own networks
  • Go beyond people you know and build new relationships via commenting and sharing around other people’s content (this part is labour intensive)
  • Invite people to get involved with some decisions – (post pictures of your office and ask them if its how they would arrange it, for example)
  • Share rich media – photos/video
  • Ask questions to the growing community and keep them engaged.

Create Your Strategy

Once you know where to connect with your players you need to develop a communications strategy. This need not be elaborate or ornate. An example of a simple, yet effective strategy should include the following elements:

  • Facebook – one post a day minimum. Do it at lunch time for your market
  • Twitter – share information about the daily life of your company – check for #hashtags around keywords relating to your game and get involved in conversations/follow people using the hashtags. “Twitter is the grout of your day”
  • Create/share engaging, rich content (photos, videos)
  • Create content around the values your company supports (mission statement).
  • Social media is made for mobile – please embrace it.

Learn from others who have gone before you

Just like in game development and other disciplines, there are best practices in social media. By learning from what other people do, you can avoid some mistakes. You can also learn some of their signature social media moves like:

    • Creating a developer diary – blog/tweet about your experience creating the game
    • Sharing the struggles and successes you have
    • Using videos/photos to showcase the people in your studio and the great things they are doing.
    • Focuing on engaging content built around what your game brand “feels” like. What do you want you brand experience to be?

Important things to remember

    • Social media is multi-directional and conversational
    • Creating a “news-feed” that is all about you, will not bring people in (Ask yourself, what would you interact with?)
    • IF a newsfeed style is created, people will block your updates, and they will be lost. Better to NOT post than to do a newsfeed.
    • Do not cross-post from one-network to another – Twitter is a different tool than Facebook.
    • For every 10 posts on social media – 2 can be directly about your brand, 4 around values/ideas in that area, 3 that are fun/innovative, 1 that is a test case for what your community likes
    • Have fun and don’t be afraid to share the cool things you are doing, because you are doing cool things!

Social media is a cheap, effective and powerful tool for any game developer to use to grow their brand. Jump in and as is said on Star Trek, “Engage!”



One response

21 02 2012

You mention the newsfeed being a bad idea. I’ve read somewhere that since not everyone uses RSS, having your Twitter account setup to automatically tweet about new posts is good, since it is like an alternative feed for some followers. Obviously, you need more than the feed for your account to get some decent traction.

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