Indie Game Development and Social Media – Rookie Mistakes I Made

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A few years ago I was studying for a CIM Foundation course in marketing and started working on a part-time, voluntary basis for Blind Sky Studios (a small indie game developer based in Cardiff).

I had been tasked with helping to establish a social media following for the organisation, as well as other PR related duties such as attending events and communicating with the press. Whilst this was a great opportunity I found myself rather daunted as, quite frankly, I felt I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! Fortunately, Blind Sky Studios were themselves just starting out. As such, they were very sympathetic to my plight and understood that I would be learning on the job to a certain extent.

Social Media Icons

Eventually, I got stuck in and I didn’t always get it right. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

Quality Over Quantity

Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of followers or likes other users may have. I got bogged down with this in the early days, especially with Twitter and its “follow me, follow you” culture. It’s is better to have 500 followers who have an active interest in your studio or product than 1000 who don’t. Valuable followers are those who are likely to engage with you, share your content and hopefully buy your products.

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Be realistic about how active you can be on social media and what you can achieve. There is no use being on a myriad of platforms if you can’t keep them up to date. Think about who you are aiming to reach and choose sites based on this. Once I chose the communication methods things felt easier.

Tolkien Quote

It’s Not All About Promotion

I needed to let people know about their new release, Biolith, a mobile strategy puzzler game, but there was a lot more involved than simply telling them. Markets and audiences are increasingly fragmented and traditional methods of selling to an audience aren’t as successful as they used to be. Communication needs to be two way- this means engaging with your audience and customers, building a dialogue and getting involved with online communities.

Content is Key

Following on from the above. Ensure your posts are interesting and informative. Social media is highly saturated and generic posts will not stand out enough to be noticed. Think about what you want your message to achieve, are you raising awareness or is there a more specific ‘Call to Action’. Once again- Quality over quantity!

Leave Your Desk

As much as I’d like to say that you can achieve the best results from the comfort of your desk- you can’t. Some of the best audience interaction and growth happened because we attended events. There are games shows, jams and other events happening all the time. Use them. As well as having fun you can grow your contacts, increase your following, raise awareness of your brand and products, and sell your products. Be confident- you’re not trying to be a developer (or marketer) you ARE one!

Blind Sky Studios
Blind Sky Studios at the Wales Games Development Show 2016
Left to Right: Richard Jackson, Tom Kitchen, Lee Russell, Calliope Cooper-Russell, Rachael Brearton

Use the Tools Available to You

There are ways of making the job easier. Establish what you need to do and research software and tools that can aid you- they don’t have to be pricey. For example, as I worked part-time for Blind Sky Studios I am unable to post to social media every day. I could, however, use software like Hootsuite that allowed me to schedule posts in advance to multiple social media platforms and monitor them from one place. There are plenty of time-savers available!

Enjoy It

Lastly . . . if you are making products that you love your passion will come through and your audience will pick up on that. So try to have fun!

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