A couple weeks ago, I discussed some lessons I learned using social stretch goals for a Kickstarter campaign. In that post, I talked about some of the differences between social media platforms, as they relate specifically to tabletop game developers.
Well, today, I want to take a deeper dive into the cool, cool waters of social media. (It’s not just for millennials anymore! …Although, technically, I fall into the oldest group of “millennials.”) Using social media to talk about your games and socialize with fans and fellow developers is crucial if you want your games to exist outside of the vacuum of your own head. And as you probably know, the big three (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) are used in very different ways. However, using social media to promote your games is very different than using it for, say, your personal life. While it may be fine and dandy to post photos of your baby, quizzes about your Game of Thrones Carl Jung personality type, and heated political rants on your personal Facebook page, those things won’t go over so well for your game.
I’ll break down a bit of what I’ve learned in helpful bullet-sized tidbits that I hope you guys find useful. If there are any other tips you guys think of, let everyone know in the comments below!
- Content – Facebook is primarily used for posting news stories. Keep your posts informative and useful. Photos are fine, but make sure they’re there to serve the purpose of illustrating some important news item.
- Frequency – Try to post at least once a week, but definitely no more than once per day. People don’t like their news feeds polluted with “page” posts – it starts to look like unwanted advertisements if you post too frequently. Rule of thumb: If it’s not newsworthy and useful to your fans, don’t post it.
- Searchability – Facebook does allow searching by hashtags, but it’s not used much. People generally find posts either because they’re directly on their news feed from following you, or because someone else shared the post. Encouraging fans to hit ‘share’ is a useful call-to-action if you’re trying to spread the word on something.
- Links that you post on Facebook will automatically convert to cards. This is great for two reasons: 1) it allows you to delete the nasty-looking url block from your post; and 2) it adds a featured image. Just be sure the featured image that Facebook selects is the correct one.
- Facebook is great for interacting with fans. You can comment directly to someone else’s comment, and everything’s kept under the same post.
- Facebook is generally considered an ‘older’ social media platform (i.e., people my age and older). While gamers come in all ages and degrees of technological savviness, keep in mind that if your game is targeted at teenagers, for example, Facebook likely won’t be your main channel for impressions.
- Out of the big 3, Facebook has probably the most advanced analytics available to you for free. While you don’t have to take advantage of that, it can be useful to see which posts reached the most people, which weeks you saw the biggest rise in followers, etc.
- Facebook allows you to create Events – VERY useful for things like launch parties, demos, live gameplay sessions, etc.
- Content – Instagram is for posting pictures. While that may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that people’s minds are in a very primal state when scanning Instagram. If you post, for example, a picture of your game’s logo with a long-winded call-to-action in the caption, letting people know to come find you at a convention, at booth #205, between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00, then they’ll likely blow past it. Stick to nice-looking photos with simple, succinct captions. A picture is worth a thousand words. Or so they say. Instagram’s great for showing off cool, custom components and game artwork.
- Frequency – Like Facebook, post at least once a week, but aim for no more than once per day. Instagram’s feed algorithm is more shotgunned than Facebook’s, so people are much more likely to see your multiple posts, back-to-back. General rule of thumb: Don’t post variants of the same picture; choose the best one, and leave it at that.
- Searchability – Instagram is home of the hashtags. Each post can have up to 30 of them, but see my post on social stretch goals for tips on how to hide them so they don’t annoy your followers. Instagram users are much more likely to engage directly with hashtags to find new content, so make sure you’re using them. Some of the most widely used hashtags for tabletop games include #boardgames #tabletopgames and #gamenight
- Instagram still does not allow you to post links in your captions and comments. This is a huge disadvantage, and one reason why I say you should avoid posting news or calls-to-action where you want fans to go somewhere else online. You can, however, post a link in your user bio, so make sure you’re doing that if you have an active Kickstarter campaign or a website you want people to check out.
- While I’ve found that it’s much easier to get Likes on Instagram than any other social media platform, keep in mind what I said before about it being a much more “primal” arena. People’s attention spans are shorter on Instagram, and it’s ridiculously easy to double-tap on a 2-inch-by-2-inch picture than it is to read an entire post and Like it on, say, Facebook. Though I don’t have a ton of data to back this up, I’d say that from a marketing standpoint, Instagram will garner more impressions but fewer conversions than Facebook or Twitter. Still, IG is a great way to engage with fans and fellow gamers, even if it is through the medium of photos.
- Keep in mind Instagram’s limitations on the dimensions that photos can have. (Square, with a tiny bit of leeway for stretching them, as long as you don’t want to post multiples.) The photos you use on Facebook, your website, or Kickstarter may not work for Instagram, and you might have to create IG-friendly versions.
- Sharing isn’t a feature that’s built-in to Instagram. If you want to share someone else’s posts (or have other people share yours), you’ll need to use a 3rd party app such as Repost. This might seem obvious, but keep it in mind when you have a call-to-action that involves people sharing your posts (such as with a social stretch goal for your Kickstarter). People are far less likely to share posts on Instagram than they are on Facebook or Twitter.
- The average age of Instagram users is quite a bit lower than Facebook (Instagram’s user base falls most heavily in the 18-29 age bracket, compared to Facebook’s falling most heavily in the 35-54 bracket, according to a Pew research study). Keep that in mind when considering the target age range of the game(s) you’re developing.
- Instagram lacks any built-in analytics, but there are apps you can download (at your own risk) to get a glimpse at your post engagement and fan base.
- Content – Twitter is primarily used for connecting with other people through the sharing of ideas. Person-to-person interaction is what Twitter’s main goal is, as opposed to Facebook’s one-to many news sharing, and Instagram’s ‘instant photo album’ mission. Twitter’s great for sharing your thoughts and engaging directly with fans and other developers.
- Frequency – Twitter users are far more forgiving of constant posts – five, ten, 15 per day; in fact, it’s encouraged. Perhaps it’s the ‘interactive stream-of-consciousness’ that Twitter aims for. Whatever the reason, Twitter requires a far greater commitment in terms of frequency than either Facebook or Instagram. (Admittedly, this is probably why I’m ‘bad’ at Twitter… I don’t carve out the time throughout the day.)
- Searchability – Twitter uses hashtags like Instagram, however, since Twitter is mostly about public 1-to-1 interaction with other users, @ mentions are a more useful way to spread your message. I used to joke that — if you’re not getting into a feud with a celebrity on Twitter, you’re not doing it right. In all seriousness though, make sure you’re interacting directly with your followers and followees by replying, re-tweeting, and @-ing them.
- Probably the most famous (or infamous) feature of Twitter is its limitation of 140 characters or fewer. Tweeting is an art form that I haven’t quite mastered, due to my penchant for long-windedness and multi-clause syntax (I’m a literati, sue me). Unless you’re trying to draw attention to yourself for having an emotionally-charged outburst, try to avoid using multiple, run-on tweets to convey a single message.
- Twitter places a greater value on the concept of transparency than Facebook or Instagram. For example: Twitter doesn’t allow you to edit your posts. If you want to take back something you said, you need to fully delete a post, and – as the aforementioned celebrity feuds have taught us – people are far more likely to screenshot a Twitter post than anything else. The bottom line is this: 1) make sure your grammar is correct when you hit post, because you won’t be able to edit it; and 2) keep your personal struggles/feuds/fights/shortcomings/etc off Twitter. If you think, even the SLIGHTEST bit, “Maybe I shouldn’t post this,” then don’t post it.
- Because Twitter is more of a digital community than a digital soapbox or photo album, it’s a great medium for surveys, contests, giveaways, and the like. It’s a great way to not only interact with your followers, but also to give them something fun and engaging.
So that’s it for now. Feel free to add your own tips and insights in the comments!
Until next time, gang! Keep it plucky,