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Unpacking a smart plan for long-tail post-launch marketing

Witch Beam Games community and social media manager Emily Hummel laid out practical plans for long-tail post-launch marketing and community engagement for small games.

Danielle Riendeau

March 23, 2023

3 Min Read
a small kitchen scene, in isometric perspective

At her GDC talk this week, Witch Beam Games community and social media manager Emily Hummel gave practical advice for creating a social plan for a limited-scope game. Hummel works on the social media campaign for Unpacking, the indie darling puzzler where players learn about the main character by unpacking her belongings after her various moves. Notably, the game is a complete, single player experience with no DLC planned, but Hummel laid out all the ways she continues to make content and engage with the title's active community despite that.

She started off my noting that her talk would be particularly useful to small teams and folks working on a game with either no DLC, or expansion content that is very far away. The focus was on long-tail post-launch marketing and community engagement.

The importance of scheduling

Hummel suggested that any social media manager get organized and get started with a calendar. A few suggested items she called out were holidays, sales, and anniversaries for your game (and any staff vacations), all of which help to plan ahead for. She suggested finding a posting cadence for all of your channels and sticking to it, even if it starts light, because many algorithms (TikTok in particular, in her shout-out) are designed to reward a constant stream of content and punish gaps.

For indie game socials, templates are your friend

Hummel was big on recycling content for posting purposes (and merch!) and noted that really, templates are your best friend. She showed examples of images that were reused from one Photoshop file, and noted she actually keeps a spreadsheet with all of her ideas for social assets.

"The first rule is whenever you make something, [be it a] still image, a video, etc. [is to] see if there's a way to use it [again]."

"While you're at it, you can make templates for your images as well. I build templates for everything: for conferences, for sales. We had Penny Arcade pins for PAX West..." She pointed towards the pins and a larger image on her slide. "This is the exact same Photoshop file with the same elements. So it's got the same background, logos, imagery, I just moved around."

a bathroom scene in the game, with toilet, sink, tub

She also noted that templatized replies were a lifesaver when dealing with community members and random folks on TikTok asking the same questions over and over (chief examples: what is the name of the game?). Patience and templates were Hummel's chief tools here, and she suggested even creating email and TikTok reply templates for the most FAQ-able responses.

Speedrunning Unpacking

In one of the most fun and light-hearted moments of the talk, Hummel mentioned the dedicated speedrunning community that's grown up around the game (which is very much designed to be a chill, meditative experience). Hummel was surprised to see it, but happily leaned into this aspect of the community, as it's become one of the most active channels on the Unpacking Discord. She suggests that approach to building community: celebrate the things that work, even if it's not what you'd most expect!

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About the Author(s)

Danielle Riendeau

Editor-in-Chief, GameDeveloper.com

Danielle is the editor-in-chief of Game Developer, with previous editorial posts at Fanbyte, VICE, and Polygon. She’s also a lecturer in game design at the Berklee College of Music, and a hobbyist game developer in her spare time.

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