So, I have been trying to get out there, and figure out what to do about all this social marketing stuff. And it appears to be less simple than I thought. But here is a draft of a conversation I had on reddit about marketing of games. You can see the original thread here: Reddit
Ive never been into twitter, facebook and instagram, sure i have private accounts that I rarely use, but I decided I wanted to understand how it works, so I started investigating it last year, hearing how a lot of people talking about how it is necessary to have a good impact on these platforms..
However, in my mind, it turns out to be a bit of a bloated idea, and the focus we are lead to believe that we should be having is not the correct one. If you take a look at some of the big twitter, instagram and Facebook accounts, in indie game development, they rarely have more than a few thousands followers (these are extremely rare), and when I see the like/share ratio on most posts, I cant see how this could ever be enough to create active users in my games. And this makes perfect sense, when you look at the “gameplay” of these platforms, they are not meant for advertisement, instead they are good for tight fit and sharing of ideas to your close and not so close relatives (but within a limited circle).. and then the odd one that makes high quality content.. but the days where you could force advertise on these platforms are gone I believe, people have started developing “banner blindness” much in the same way as big red “click here” buttons in the 90’s died out, because people simply stopped seeing them (and now, you cannot use big red buttons anymore, because people avoid them)
What I believe you can use these platforms for is connecting with a closed group of individuals, fans and followings, like a core group of people that like what you do, and are willing to give you feedback, test your games etc. but for creating a big customer base and a huge reach, I believe that social media is not the way to go.
I will use social media as a base for my company, where people can see screenshot and gameplay videos, weird thoughts, but not where I will be creating reach, because I simply do not believe that people will be looking for indie games to play.
I have not tried Google ads yet, but I will give it a try at some point – I did however, give Facebook ads a go, and that turned out really bad. I paid to get a campaign out in Europe to a targeted group of people (with special interest in games) and the campaign in Facebook showed me that it was getting a lot of interest and interactions… however, looking at the traffic on my site (which of course was my goal to traffic there) I could see a huge spike in traffic, but they all came from Russia and India, so either it was bots, or something else.. so, my conclusion is that these ads might be partial real, but I think it is a lot of scamming going on.
Lastly, in the end, people pay to get followers on some of these platforms to appear like they are interesting, so, the numbers we see when looking at popular accounts are not always real.. and the same goes for people following you, there is a huge trend of following a lot of people to get “follow backs” and as soon as this happens, then they will unfollow you, so it appears that they have a huge following.
Alternatives to social media.
I have been sitting and thinking… now what? What can I do to get a huge reach into my target audience, and the following is something I have been thinking about.
The Game review
Game reviews in any form is probably where the target audience will be looking, how hard it is to get some youtubers / game review writers to do something on your game, i dont know, but this might be a place where a tight following on social media could help you put pressure on some of these people so they notice your game, and end up doing a review. So this is what I am working towards with my social media strategy – to get a small but strong following that can help me do things like this.
At the same time, I have started writing some game reviews, my plan is to start posting these on my own site (im pretty bad at writing these) and as I get better at it, I will try to do some guest posting on game review sites, in the end, if things play out well, I could probably get someone to do reviews of my games as well, I have not worked out the details of this plan yet, but I believe that by doing this, I could generate some traffic to my site.
The Game Collective
This brings me to another plan I am considering. I have been thinking about starting a global game collective, where I find a bunch of other indie game creators that works on games like I do, to join in on a community where the goal is to help each other out with getting reach on the marked.
This community would share game reviews of each others games, get their social following to help spread the message of new and cool games.. the general idea here is of course that standing together will make strong.
I have also been looking into participating in different competitions, not to win the prices, but to get publicity, if you are on these lists of games that are part of competitions, this is where people interested in new indie games will be looking. As an example, I will be signing up for the Unity for Humanity competition as it fits perfectly for the game I am working on now (its called Beat Cancer 😉 )
I will be looking for more competition or prices where I can sign up or get my games nominated (again, this is something that the social media followers should be able to help me with if I do it right)
In app sharing
The in app share for reward system is definitely something I am looking at, but that requires a critical mass of users in the game before that makes sense to implement, and my plan right now is not to create app that gives revenue, but to get through the 51 unsuccessful games fast 😉 , so I try to create small games of high quality, and if any of them start getting active users, I will develop more on them, and implement reward mechanics like this. If it happens, that I get a game with a lot of active players, I will also use this game, to advertise for my other games there (And if the game collective becomes a reality, then also advertise for the other peoples games there)
I have a bit of a task ahead of me, getting all this done. But I am sure that I can do it, so I am not that worried.
If you want to join the Game Collective, please send me a message.