Community Management For Indies

If you’re a small indie developer it might not feel very tempting to take time from the production of your game to “hang out on Twitter”. But social media is probably where you’ll find your first fans (that aren’t your family and friends), so here are my top tips on how to work your social channels in the most efficient way.

Focus your efforts

If you’re gonna produce material for YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat every week your social media work will definitely take up a lot of time you probably don’t have. Instead, choose one or two platforms to start out and learn how to make the most of them.

It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of choosing too many outlets. We’ve certainly done that at Zoink on multiple occasions, with a now closed-down Instagram account to prove it.

So, if you already have six accounts up and running, take a good look at the activity of the different channels. Where are your fans/followers most active? Where do they talk to you and like your posts? This is where you should put your focus. For Zoink, this place is Twitter.

Prepare material

Instead of starting every day off with searching your brain for something to post – put aside a certain amount of time every week and prepare a bunch of material at once. You can even schedule them using tools such as Tweetdeck.

This is a real timesaver, but don’t forget that you still need to get online every day to check your replies and keep the discussion alive.

Organic still works

It’s awesome to have lots of cash to spend on advertising, but more often than not you don’t. And I’m not gonna lie, growing your audience organically instead of putting money into it will be slower – but remember that a lower amount of quality users that actually reply to your posts beats 20.000 followers that just liked your page to get that free coupon you offered. Inactive followers will make Facebook’s algorithms throw you straight down to the bottom of the feed, and you definitely don’t want that.

Twitter is extra good when working with little or no advertising since it (mostly) doesn’t prioritize the feed for you but instead shows all tweets in reverse chronological order. If you post at a time when your followers are online, they will see it.

Recycle

Did you write a hell-of-a-good blog post that got lots of shares? Don’t leave it to rot. Chances are not all the people out there read it the first time, so share it again! As an example, below are the stats for Mikael’s blog post “How to ask a developer for a game key”. It got about 800 reads the when we first posted it in 2016, and when a re-post on Twitter (for the fourth time) one year later it still reached about 300 people.

 

If you got some good material lying around, you could also use it in multiple ways. Did you write a blog post about a cool feature in your game? Make a video using same information!. You don’t need the content of each channel to be original at all times.

Collaborate

We have a saying in Sweden that translates to something like this: “Many small streams makes a big river”. If you’re a small indie dev, you can be sure there are thousands more like you. And you can certainly find strength in numbers!

It’s not only a lot of fun meeting other devs. You can also help each other out! Team up and do a marketing push together! At Zoink, we once did a small giveaway of what we called “the Gothenburg indie bundle” together with a bunch of other devs from our city. It was a great way to spread the word about games created in our local area.

Of course, we also have a close relationship with our friends over at Image & Form. We’ve been collaborating around stuff like gameplay videos, business trips and conventions, important contacts and technical issues. It’s great to be able to help each other out! Be generous and help others spread their games, and people will do the same for you.

Don’t overplan

“But hey, you just told us to prepare stuff!” I know, but hear me out. While it’s great to prepare content, my belief is that you should not spend weeks and weeks creating a social media plan covering every little aspect of how to communicate your game to the world.

So why is that? People spend years learning how to set up marketing plans (I sure did!). Thing is though, that both the world of social media and gaming change at such a rapid pace that if you create a three-year plan it will probably be outdated before that time has passed.

By all means, go ahead and make a plan! It’s great to have an idea of what you want to do with your title on the road leading up to release (and further), but don’t spend too much time on every little detail.

Start early

When you think about marketing, it’s easy to think of billboards put up for in time for the release of a game. But that’s just the loudest kind of marketing, and usually only possible if you have a huge budget and brand to work with.

Instead, let marketing be part of your project from day one! Share GIFs, blog posts or screenshots showing your progress. Not only will it give you more time to spread the word, it’s also essential for getting to know your audience. This will come in very handy when that big release day is coming close and you want to convince them and others to actually buy the game.

Our very first Twitter followers got to see this Flipping Death concept art as early as in 2014, before we put the project on hold to make Zombie Vikings.

These things take time

You seldom get 50.000 followers in a day. Heck, some days you won’t even get one. But social media is not a quick fix to sell your game. It’s about building a lasting relationship with your fans, and these things take time.

If you keep at it though, you’re gonna be surrounded by a great crowd of people who are truly interested in what you do and happily share it with other people. And that’s simply awesome.

If you have any thoughts or questions on this topic, please let me know! Comment below, or find me on Twitter. See you in cyberspace!

Alexandra Dahlberg
Community Manager
@thatsgreatalex

  • Jason D Barna

    As an indie dev myself (Xavier Orion Games) I would like to know what is the best practice to use to get the most people to see your tweets and posts as I mainly use Facebook and Twitter for my marketing. I feel like the hash tags I’ve been using aren’t helping me get to as many people as I should be hitting.

    • I checked out your recent tweets so I’ll focus on Twitter here. I’d make sure to always attach pictures/GIFs/videos to all your tweets since visual content get a lot more engagement. Short videos and GIFs are especially worth using! Also, make sure not to have automated messages (I can see some follow/unfollow tweets in your feed) since it can give a spam-y feel that you don’t want.

      Good luck with your game! 🙂

  • Hiwez

    fantastic advice here, especially the final thought. “Build lasting relationships with your fans” is a really key take-away when talking about how to use social media. I am not a developer but an illustrator and so much of this blog post is still so relevant. I would love to know what the saying about the rivers is in swedish.

    • Alexandra Dahlberg

      It’s “Många bäckar små gör stor å”! 😀

      Thanks a lot, glad you appreciated it! Glad it can be of help in other fields as well 🙂 Oh, and sorry for the late reply!

      • haha no need to apologise, you all must be full steam ahead with the release of Fe!
        Keep being awesome and I’ll look forward to the next blog post! 🙂