Why will your game rise above the competition?
- Because you stayed up late caffeine-fueled nights, putting everything you've got into creating a unique, shining example of what a game can be. You didn't rush production. You staid the course and kept your masterpiece to yourself and a few testers until every bug was addressed, every neglected corner of the map was tastefully appointed. Boss battles perfectly balanced, so on and so forth.Great. Your game won't be holding your numbers back. That's one giant box with one giant check mark. GJT.
- Because at some point months ago, preferably, you created a cohesive marketing plan to draw the interest of the gaming community and everyone can't wait to get their hands on the game. You fostered a relationship with your audience before the game was even ready to hit the market. You shared concept art, listened to feedback and responded accordingly. Your game will shine because it is a community project that your gamers feel a strong connection to.
- And finally, your game will succeed because you aren't in jail for murdering me after my last two posts. Good call, guys.
Yes, so my last two articles have been read by many and summarily hated upon. Poor Nando, who runs this site, is concerned about the heaping piles of hatred my posts have been receiving. So let's go ahead and note that the views expressed in my articles are mine alone, and the Webmaster is simply (graciously) allowing me to publish here. Okay? Great. So be nice to him.
With that said, let's get on with this thing.
Now that I know who my audience is, this article has become very tough to write. I haven't exactly come out and announced that I would be giving marketing tips, my last articles were just about why it is such a challenge for indie devs. But I have created an expectation that I'm not sure how to deliver upon.
Like any editorialist, I'm finding that it's much easier to point out what's wrong than to come up with thoughtful, useful and easily-implemented solutions. Another problem I'm running into is that most of my readers seem to be already doing what I would have suggested anyway. That's why you found these articles to begin with. And that's why I gave this article its optimistic title.
You are already using social media
Independent production is community-dependent. Luckily, you are already involved in the community. Some of my readers commented on this point and hit the nail squarely on the head. To have a successful game, you must have a community to support it. Since you're reading this now, you almost certainly have a presence on Facebook or Twitter.
And hopefully, your game is still far from completion, because marketing is a slow game. There are ways to quickly boost exposure, but it is only through repetition over time that a product can be successfully marketed. One of the first lessons from ad school: a crappy brand image will outperform a quality one, given that it is repeated often enough.
There's a reason that high-dollar brands will spam the airways with Taylor Swift commercials (love you, Taylor!) or charismatic insurance saleswomen (love you too, Flo!). These methods work. The same rule applies for games. You need to get your game's art and style into as many visual media as you can. Find what makes your game unique and exploit it. But remember, these things take time!
So what channels should you use? All of them?
No way! Choose two social platforms. Three at most. Plus your blog. Twitter and Facebook both have a strong indie scene.
One trap that a lot of social marketers fall into is trying to do it all at once. This is not feasible. Social media marketing isn't hard to do, but doing it right is very time-consuming. If you try to blow out your Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and Google+ while simultaneously marketing on Steam, Kickstarter and whatever else, it will be sparse and unconvincing.
Professional marketers suggest daily Facebook posts with pictures, GIFs, links and any kind of media. And no less than three tweets per day, also with pictures and GIFs. Because Twitter is in real time, international titles must take time zones into consideration. Where is your audience? What are their peak times? These are important questions to ask before launching a social campaign. Persistence and consistency are key to getting an audience's attention.
Joining Facebook groups (as many of you have seen) is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the indie scene. But lurkers will not move units. You have to participate. Originate content to share with your contemporaries. Be sure to comment and provide critical feedback to others.
To keep up with this demanding social media schedule, consider a scheduling program like Crowdfire. Crowdfire is free to a great extent but doesn't work for Facebook. Paid programs like Coschedule are able to handle much larger loads over more platforms, but the cheapest one I could find is $30 per month minimum.
Are you bloggin'?
A blog is pretty much essential for any marketing campaign. Or anything that wants to officially exist at all. WordPress is the most popular platform for blogging right now. And it's a swell choice.
Adding a blog to these other things sort of sounds like adding more stuff to an already-crammed media campaign. But really, a blog will help you mitigate your other channels' content creation.
Post to your blog at least a few times a week. That will provide a hub for your followers to see what's new with your game. It will also provide a hub for your other media outlets. When you publish a post to WordPress, it automatically blasts your other social channels. That will reduce the amount of time you actually spend posting.
A regularly-updated blog page will also provide SEO relevance to your game. Search engines take careful notice of your update frequency while rating the relevance of your page. If your game has a unique title, people should be able to Google it and find your blog right away.
While you may have been hoping for a "3 easy marketing tricks..." type article, I'm afraid marketing is a boggy path. There are so many ins and outs that go much deeper than can be explained in any number of easy marketing tricks. The most important thing is timing. It is absolutely crucial to have an audience ready to buy your game before it hits the market. And by playing the slow game, posting every day and keeping your blog regular, you will eventually make your way to page 1 of search engine results pages.
You want 3 easy tricks? Here they are:
- Blog 2-3 times per week
- Link your Facebook and Twitter to your blog
- Make social posts linking to your blog and showing your beautiful game
As I said, it is likely you are already doing this. And that's why your game will pwn.
I'm feeling overwhelmed by this topic. And by the demand for good answers. So you tell me what you want me to write about. Any questions? Please ask so we can continue the conversation, and so you can make me awesome new games to enjoy.
Find me on Twitter if you want: @longie_long