Social media is toxic by nature.
That’s probably a funny thing for a career marketer to say, but it’s true. Taken as a whole it’s a cesspit of negativity, narcissism, self-aggrandizement, and misinformation. Like so much technology ostensibly meant to make our lives better, the world would likely be a better place without it.
And yet, social media also has many worthwhile uses. It brings value to content creators, entrepreneurs, and game developers just like yourself seeking to bring your projects to a wider audience.
More to the point, social media isn’t all bad. There is a positive side to social media — if you’re willing to look for it.
The indie game developers you find on social media in particular are some of the most passionate, hard-working, creative, funny, and intelligent people you’re likely to meet. These are people who will blow you away with their ideas, their creativity, and their unique perspectives on life.
The key to social media is to create a space for that positivity so that your community can come to you as its source.
I asked them how they did it. Here’s what they told me.
I. How did you seed your first followers? Where did they come from? How did they find you?
My initial followers came from a combination of Twitch and the startup of Indie World Order. When I started Longplay Games in early 2020, I created various social media accounts for it immediately and began circulating the first shots and ideas about what we’d be doing. I talked about those ideas and posts a little bit (if offered a chance) on the twitch streams I followed, as well as on indie-friendly Discord and IRC channels.
Marketing starts when the game is a mere whiteboard concept. People need to know who “you” are, so engagement is important to establish a presence.
II. What goals did you have for your social media marketing when you first started out? Did you have anything specific you wanted to accomplish? What was the time frame? What were your parameters for success?
My goals were (and are) to build a community around sci-fi-based indie gaming. It’s important that people see indie gaming as a worthwhile, welcoming, and fun experience. I would consider it similar to the original “Star Wars”: In order to have a broad appeal, you must first de-stigmatize and de-toxify the attitudes the public holds towards science fiction. Indie games are poorly perceived in popular culture, and indie sci-fi games are doubly so.
To overcome that, it was important to seek out the positive and supportive voices in the community and help them to amplify their message. We all benefit from a healthy and diverse community.
III. How did you go about planning Longplay Game’s social media strategy. How did that strategy change as time went on?
We planned a social media strategy focused on community building with positivity and openness. It has changed a bit. Some socials were just far too much work to maintain (like Discord), and some were just too insular (like Mastodon), and some were just too toxic (like Facebook). Our goal isn’t to promote “a game”, or “a studio”, but indie gaming in general and indie sci-fi in particular. Promoting our games is just one aspect of that.
IV. Have you ever tried A/B testing Longplay Games’ content? What were some of the experiments you’ve tried to optimize your social media marketing? What worked? What didn’t? Why?
I’m not sure I’d say I A/B test as such, but I do try to vary the content and presentation and then focus more on what had a solid response. We have also tried a variety of ad platforms, with varying degrees of success.
The thing we absolutely eschew is the Concorde fallacy. If a strategy or campaign isn’t working, we don’t invest more money and effort into it.
V. How would you identify Longplay Games’ brand voice? If your game were a person you could sit down at a table and have a conversation with, what kind of personality would they have?
Longplay Games’ brand voice and personality are based on the six of us who make up the studio. We share a firm belief that tomorrow will always be better than yesterday. We’re supporters of labor rights, of equal representation, of respect for all voices, and of the concept that there’s always room to improve. So, I would say our brand voice emphasizes positive energy and a brighter future for a huge and varied community.