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Why is social media not working for my game?

The most powerful tool of this generation has many upsides (free marketing!), right? Yet social media isn’t delivering the results you expected. Let's break the problems down.

The most powerful tool of this generation has many upsides (free marketing!), right? Yet it isn’t delivering the results you expected, and others just seem to be growing in size every day.

Curious about how marketing is done in the gaming industry, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on social media by my current experience. Having dealt with several social media campaigns and clients over the years, I would like to help out where I can and learn more on the way!

I’m hoping to shed some light on what works to build an online community, no matter what size or branche. Bare with me - this is my perception on things from a different type of industry. I'll try to keep the social media slang to a minimum. 

So, what triggered me to write about this, are three most asked questions:

1. ‘Facebook posts are receiving no likes and comments. Why?’
I’m still looking for that magic button as well. Why something is working, and something else isn’t. Statistics can only tell you so much.

No likes and no comments are often a sign that a message isn’t coming across. The main error I can find, particularly on Facebook, is CTRL+C plus CTRL+V. Copy-pasting is as much as a no-go with job interviews, as it is on social media. It can be time-saving to forward posts from different platforms to another, but will cost you more in the end.

Let’s see with the helps of an example if we can break this down into particles:

Paste a link to a blog in a Facebook status update. This will display a preview image, link and text, as displayed on the blog.

Overwatch Blog

Overwatch Blog
Up: Facebook link display. Below: Original blog link source.

Adding ‘a new blog post!’ in the status update could seem sufficient. This is the copy-paste way to go. Experimenting with this, you will find little engagement (likes/comments).

Facebook allows you to post links in three (!) different ways, all with customizable display. So why not make use of them?

Now here is the link to the same blogpost again. A status update is added to clarify where the link is heading. A customized visual is added, and two text bars below are removed. This is one of the ways to make use of links.

Facebook post as published on Overwatch page.

In this example, you can see the distinctive difference between copy-paste and small adjustments, to clarify your message.

Tell your story
Context (copy/visual) is the main support to tell your story. A post will make sense to you (you are the creator, after all!), but this doesn’t mean it will to the fans you have on that platform. Running your post past a friend might shed some perspective on how you read this, and how someone else reads it.

Some background to this: in our agency we spend hours, DAYS, to find the proper context. I wish I was joking.

Now this might seem exaggerated, but you will see these efforts are rewarding in the different type of response by fans. Every post needs to fit into some type of story - no matter how insignificant. This will make all the difference in how engaged viewers will feel with your content. Building stories and communities take time. Try out both options and see how it goes!

2. ‘What do we do on Instagram?
I have received this e-mail many times, followed by a signature, promoting links to social media channels that are not updated frequently or hold the same information.

My first question to this is: “why should I follow more channels for the same thing?” Don’t get me wrong, reaching out to new platforms in order to find the type of person interested in your game, is a good start.

Adding as many social channels as possible, however, is not the best way to grow your online presence. A single person could be interested in following all of your channels - if they offer something different.

Thar Be Monsters Facebook post Thar Be Monsters Twitter post

Thar Be Monsters Instagram post
Example: social media channels Thar Be Monsters, post on September 21st about Kickstarter game Blubber Busters.

I'm personally rooting for this game to happen, as I'm a big fan of projects made with incredible skill and passion. The example is meant to display what a fan will see with a single post.

This strategy could be argued that all the social media channels may gather more types of people. That may be true, but information given isn’t tailored for those types specifically.

An interesting example to reflect this, from the music industry: Indieband Chvchres announced they would exclusively release information about the new album on Instagram. Success: every music news platform picked it up and within a day, that Instagram account received 20k followers.

How to Instagram
Firstly, set personal goals. Decide what it is you’re expecting Instagram to bring you and who you are trying to reach. ‘More followers’ is not a goal - ‘reaching people with a knack for puzzles’ is one. Your social media will have more sustainability with a proper goal and strategy.

Secondly, research! Find out what it’s main features are and navigate your way into this new network. Find similar accounts, follow them and see what is of interest to them.  

This will require building something from scratch, again. And yet, that is how all communities are built, even the big ones. No one will believe what you are selling just by being there.

3. ‘How do we create online buzz?’
Unfortunately, there is no recipe for big buzz on social media. It’s a common mistake to think one type of strategy works for everyone - in fact, in my experience with similar sized companies such as Coca-Cola and Aquarius, none of these plans coincide.

It helps to understand how online buzz works. In my experience, it draws back to these pillars:

#1: Planned spontaneity.

#2: Gold gossip by research.

#3: Actively tracked news.

What this means, is you will know what people will want to talk about. Because you have done your research; you have been listening, reading and tracking for months what it is that your target audience (person you want to reach) likes and loves, and can’t live without.

And it just so happens - you have the exact thing they need, at the exact moment they we’re looking for it! There are a multitude of free and paid tools to help you, such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck preview Preview of Tweetdeck search columns.

Finally - be active and relevant. Boosting a conversation is a lot easier by already being part of one. Make yourself the talk of the town by showing what you have. There is a lot more to explore with the works of online buzz, such as newsjacking, which I might add another blog post on later.

Trial & Error
It is important to figure out how social media works for you, how cheesy that may sound. The best way to experiment is to start with your main goal and decent research. See which channels will be a suitable fit. You might even end up killing your darlings - cut out the social media which has no use for you.

Remember, online platforms are forever changing, and so are the audiences visiting them. Not understanding these changes, might leave you out in the desert. If you are experiencing trouble reaching or understanding a target audience, get advice from a social media expert during the setup of your accounts.

Alternatively, you can take a few minutes a day to read up with the latest updates via social blogs. Did you know Twitter has it’s own blog? Media websites often have social media columns - such as Forbes.

Social media is part know-how, part experimenting - but it’s a fulltime job.

Want to chat some more about social media and how you are experiencing this in the game industry? I’m all ears! You can find all the social mumbo jumbo here:

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