Twitter Marketing: How to Use the Analytics Platform

By Tim Youngblood

Twitter’s analytics platform collects an impressive amount of data for a free tool. Before we dive in, let’s define the metrics that Twitter uses on their platform. Luckily, these metrics are fairly universal and are defined the same way on other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, if this is your first time visiting Game Borough, check out the previous posts in our Twitter marketing series to get caught up!

Indie Game Twitter Marketing Series

Impressions Versus Conversions

What is an Impression?

An impression is simply a tweet (Or post if you’re on Facebook) that comes onto a user’s feed. This doesn’t mean that the user clicked the link, liked or retweeted, or even looked at your tweet. It does mean that users had the opportunity to so, however, and users who do things such as liking, retweeting, visiting your profile, following you, or visiting a web page you’ve shared.

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that the number of impressions is way higher than the other metric. If you focus on increasing the other metrics like followers, mentions, and profile visits; the impressions will rise on their own. Essentially, impressions are just a byproduct of success with more important metrics. These metrics are often referred to as conversions.

 

What is a Conversion?

In sales, conversions usually refer to somebody buying your product. For marketing on Twitter, I use the term conversions more loosely because, as I said earlier in the series,  Twitter is not a good platform for sales conversions. In the case of Twitter, getting likes, retweets, follows, website visits, and profile visits are all considered conversions. To track website visits, you can either create a website tag to track visits on Twitter’s end using their conversion tracking tool or just track them from your website’s CMS or Google Analytics. I do the latter because Twitter isn’t a large source of traffic for GameBorough and I spend more time on the site’s CMS than on Twitter. Should you decide to use Twitter ads at some point, then conversion tracking will be necessary. Twitter has a Link Visits variable that it tracks, but your website will do a better job of tracking the users’ activity on your site.

 

What Else Does Twitter Analytics Track?

From the screenshot above, you can see that the Twitter Analytics homepage collects the metrics I talked about previously. The other tabs are Tweets, Audiences, and Events.

 

Using the Tweets Tab

The Tweets tab shows the aforementioned stats like impressions, engagements, retweets, and link clicks for individual tweets so you can compare their performance. Here’s a screenshot of ours below.

 

This is the Tweets dashboard showing the top 3 tweets from last month. You can click on each individual tweet to get more information. And of course, they try to sell tweet promotion on pretty much every page.

 

Using the Audiences Tab

The Audiences tab shows what kind of people follow you, and more importantly, what kind of people show up in your organic audience. Your organic audience is users that don’t follow you on Twitter but are likely to see your tweets in their feeds occasionally due to a shared interest in subject matter. Using hashtags in your tweets makes it easier for Twitter’s algorithm to put your tweets in your organic audience’s feeds. Below is a screenshot of Game Borough’s organic audience.

 

From our organic audience screen, you can see that our audience speaks English, likes games and technology, and is quite the sausage-fest. 

 

Using the Events Tab

If you spend a lot of time on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that every day is “National Something Day” like “National Donut Day” or something. The Events tab keeps track of upcoming obscure holidays as well as events happening in pop culture so people can find excuses to make new tweets. The Recurring Trends tab also shows common weekly hashtag themes so you make an excuse for a new tweet every day! Some examples of this are #ScreenShotSaturaday, #ThrowbackThursday, and #FlashbackFriday. The screenshot below is of our Overview tab.

 

This shows some upcoming holidays and events. Brace yourself for Father’s Day, we’re going to see an obnoxious amount of God of War themed tweets.

 

Putting Twitter Analytics to Use

I usually start by looking at which tweets performed well and which did not. For tweets that performed well, I can try to replicate those factors in future tweets. For example, the time of the tweet, the hashtags, subject matter, and the overall look of a tweet are all variables in a tweet’s success or failure.

For a tweet that isn’t performing well, I also look at the same factors. Let’s use one of Game Borough’s least popular tweets as an example. This particular tweet was a bit perplexing for me at first because it is one of the most popular articles on the site (It’s about indie game marketing tricks). Here’s a screenshot of the tweet, after everything we’ve covered in this tutorial series, you can probably notice some issues.

 

I can’t even read this tweet and I made it…

 

This tweet has some major issues. For one, the text is all crammed together, making it hard to read and making the link very difficult to find. The image I used doesn’t make any sense without the context of reading the article, which is a bad featured image choice when considering that the goal of this tweet is to get somebody who hasn’t read the article to read it. Audiences are also more likely to read an article if they know what it’s about. Personally, I’ve noticed success just using the article’s title in the tweet.

Knowing this, I can make a new version of the post for this article that is easier to read, says the title, and has a featured image that better illustrates the purpose of the article. Here’s what I came up with:

 

This tweet is much cleaner and has a more clear purpose. I’ll come back later to see how it performs.

 

Now that you know the basics of Twitter Analytics, you can start playing with it! Not sure where to start? Are there features that I left out? Leave your questions in the comments section and we’ll help you out!

 

Twitter Marketing: How Do Hashtags Work and How Should Game Devs Use Them?

By Tim Youngblood

In this part of our Twitter Tutorial Series, we’ll discuss how hashtags work on Twitter and how to use them.

What is a Hashtag?

Pretty much everyone knows what a hashtag is these days, but it helps to delve in and understand their purpose within Twitter. Twitter receives millions of new tweets every day, making the task of categorizing all these tweets impossible for Twitter’s employees to handle themselves. Instead, they crowd-sourced categorization by using hashtags, which essentially function as keyword groups. They are simply Twitter’s best solution to categorization and indexation, similar to how meta keywords were used for SEO before Google’s algorithm became more sophisticated.

 

How Should Indie Game Developers Use Hashtags?

People usually fall somewhere between two opposing schools of thought on how to use hashtags in marketing campaigns. One school of thought is that users should use as many hashtags as possible (As long as they’re relevant). The other school of thought is that popular hashtags become oversaturated, and promoters are better off making up new ones for more specific audiences. Each strategy has its own merits, but which is better lean toward? The answer really depends on your industry.

Larger brands are more likely to try using their own hashtags because they have to compete with other brands in their own space. These hashtags often correspond with TV commercials and marketing campaigns. Creating and popularizing a new hashtag takes an entire marketing team, and isn’t really feasible for solo devs and small teams. So in the case of indie games, I think that throwing in as many relevant hashtags is a better option for teams that are short on time and money.

 

These are the types of companies that have to care about hashtag campaigns. Graph courtesy of Talkwalker.

 

How Are Indie Games Different From Other Niches on Twitter?

Indie games are not large brands, they are not like blockbuster games that release at certain times of the year (Like Christmas). Indie Games aren’t bound to fiscal quarters and they don’t compete with each other the same way that large game publishers do. In fact, I’ll even argue that indie games aren’t really competing with each other at all.

Most indie games are significantly less expensive than big studio games. We’re talking about conversion goals of $5-$25 (In game sales or crowdfunding donations) versus $50-$60 for a big name game. For the price of the new God of War game, I could buy or help fund up to 10 indie games. The markets are completely different. Indie developers aren’t really competing with each other, they’re competing with the ever-dwindling human attention span, which currently averages 8 seconds. This is why giant corporations are willing to spend millions on commercials during the Super Bowl just to promote a new branded hashtag.

 

You can squeeze a lot of Hashtags into Twitter’s new 280 character limit. Just make sure people can still read it! Legit Games did a nice job with this simple screenshot.

 

How to Add Hashtags to Your Tweet

Since the indie game scene is much more community-oriented and collaborative than corporate marketing, I say go nuts with those hashtags! Personally, I don’t think you can have too many, but make sure they are positioned in a that doesn’t make your tweet unreadable. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to try making some new and unique hashtags. For example, it never hurts to make the title of your game into a hashtag.

As I’ve said in other articles, the indie game community is very open and supportive. Try all the hashtag combinations you can, and don’t be afraid to keep trying new hashtag combinations on the same content. Most of Twitter is reused content, so don’t feel bad about rehashing old stuff, that’s pretty much all social media is these days anyway.

 

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

Not sure where to start with Hashtags? Try using a tool like HashtagifyMe!

 

Twitter Tutorial Series

Now that you understand the reasoning behind why indie studios use hashtags the way they do, next time, we’ll get into using Twitter’s analytics tools to get the most exposure possible! Please feel free to reach out in the comments if you have any questions!

Why Should Indie Game Developers Use Twitter For Marketing?

By Tim Youngblood

In part one of our Twitter tutorial series, we’ll delve into the aspects of marketing that Twitter is good and not-so-good for.

What Should Marketers Know About Twitter?

Twitter is an interesting platform because it allows users to generate enormous amounts of reach. On the flipside, however, it has the lowest chance of meaningful conversions of the more popular social media platforms (a conversion goal might be having somebody buy your game, download your demo, or contribute to a crowdfunding platform. Sidenote: I’m leaving things like Instagram, SnapChat, and Tinder out of this… yes, people do use Tinder for marketing…)

So what exactly does this mean? The TL:DR version is that if you want to use Twitter as your primary platform for sales leads, you’re going to have a bad time. So what is Twitter good for? Twitter is great for exposure and engagement.

 

Exposure normally gets a bad rap (and rightfully so), but when you’re marketing a product instead of your services, it’s a necessity. (Comic courtesy of The Oatmeal)

 

What Do Exposure and Engagement Really Mean?

These terms both sound like generic marketing garbage you see marketing professionals blab about on LinkedIn, so let’s break these concepts down. (10x! Growth hacking! )

Exposure is simply the act of getting more eyes on a certain page, product, or project (Like your game!). Exposure is great for spreading the word about your game and gathering support. It doesn’t, however, guarantee that these new eyes on your project are the right kind of viewers (In this case, people willing to provide some kind of meaningful support, like buying or sharing).

Engagement is simply connecting with a relevant audience in a meaningful way. This can be getting feedback from people interested in buying or helping crowdfund your game. It can also mean support from other studios or a publication writing about or retweeting your game. For example, I hear about a lot of games that I end up writing about for the first time through Twitter.

 

The team developingWild Mage took to Twitter after their first crowdfunding campaign fell short. After stepping up their Twitter game and using a program called Thunderclap, they reached their funding goal in 13 hours!

 

This doesn’t mean that Twitter doesn’t provide exposure to meaningful users and transactions, it’s just much harder to quantify. Twitter is a gamble with no real risks because the platform is free and with the right hashtags, your tweet can be seen by thousands more people than networks with gatekeeping systems like Facebook and Reddit. Twitter is the best social media platform for something to “go viral” on (Although, Reddit is a close contender). So in a sense, Twitter is kind of like the lottery for social media marketing. It will never be a consistent avenue for conversions, but it’s worth doing because it takes little effort and can have a big payout.

 

Twitter Marketing Tutorials Series

In upcoming tutorials, we’ll get into some tricks for analyzing your data and optimizing your tagging to get the most out of your Twitter efforts! In the meantime, if you need any specific Twitter advice, please reach out in the comments!

Should You Make a Website for Your Game?

By Tim Youngblood

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. Here is why and some tips to get your own site started! A lot of game developers are using Facebook, Twitter, and platforms like itch.io to host the information about their studio and their games. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter will track referrals, there is a lot of data that they don’t include.

 

Why Analytics Data is Important

When people view your game, do you know which website referred them to your page? What part of the world is that viewer from? Do you know what time they viewed your game? Do you know if they downloaded your demo?

Having your own website where you can implement Google Analytics is the best way to keep track of your data. Often times, you won’t know what data points are the most important for your site, so it’s good to track everything until you know you need it. Google Analytics tracks just about every variable you can imagine and you can track more complex goals as you go along. I recommend starting with the basics, which are already set up to be tracked. These include, pages visited, times of visits, referrals, time visited, and the location of visitors. Once, you start noticing patterns with these, you can change the time of things like social media posting to get more eyes on your game.

 

This is the basic page of Google Analytics. From here, you can track just about any variable you can imagine!

 

Making a Website on a Budget 

A lot of developers don’t make a website for their game or studio because they don’t have the money or time. Building a website that ranks for a lot of keywords in search engines can take months and even years. I’ll get into whether or not it’s worth your time to do things like SEO for your site in a later article. For now, the important thing to keep in mind is that your website isn’t there to rank for keywords (Seriously, PC Gamer writes one article about your game and you’ll never rank 1st for it). It’s there to monitor the behavior of people who are interested in your game to get more eyes on your game and to increase your sales or downloads. If you’re serious about making money on a game, you need analytics data.

 

WordPress’ analytics platform isn’t perfect, but it’s great for beginners!

 

Fortunately, web design has become much easier in recent years with templates and services like WordPress and Blogspot. Both of these services are free and easy to use, I have more experience with WordPress, however, so I will focus on that. I do not recommend using Wix because you have to wait a day or two to make even basic updates on your site. Having a .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com domain doesn’t look very sexy, but they’re free and you can implement Google Analytics. Should you decide to focus more on your website in the future, you can easily convert your site to a normal .com domain. If you think a WordPress can’t look professional enough, you’re hurting my feelings, because you’re visiting one right now…

 

A WordPress theme can make your Dev blog look professional for cheap or free. This is the dev blog for Origin Story (Colors have been reversed)

 

As always, this is not a comprehensive list of reasons to make a website or platforms to make a website on. If you’re not sure where to start with making a site for your game or studio, feel free to contact us or post your game in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out our marketing section for more Indie Game Marketing Tutorials and Resources!

 

How to Promote an Indie Game on Facebook

By Tim Youngblood

Facebook is a great way to get more eyes on your game, but there are some things to keep in mind to get the most out of your Facebook promotion.

 

How Facebook’s Monetization Works

First and foremost, it is important to know how Facebook makes their money and how that affects what is prioritized in people’s feeds. Obviously, Facebook makes their money through advertisements, and there are some rules of thumb to keep in mind that most online entities use to maximize traffic and profits.

Most online media outlets have a goal of keeping as many users on their site for as long as possible. For Facebook, this comes in the form of prioritizing content that keeps users on their website. This is why so much of our Facebook feeds are littered with those 1-minute videos that are just clips from Youtube videos with subtitles over them (Facebook also doesn’t care about copyright, so they are really screwing over Youtubers right now). Facebook now plays interstitial ads inside these videos because their greed seemingly knows no bounds…

This means that users have to scroll through several pages of these videos and memes to get to anything with an external link like an article. Facebook doesn’t want anyone clicking on your link, so it’s an uphill battle to begin with.

 

Facebook is a Pay to Play System

If your game or development studio has a Facebook page, you’ve probably seen the notifications where Facebook offers you credit to boost your page or a post. This is done to get your credit card information and get you addicted to those easy likes for just a few dollars a week. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but with hundreds of millions of Facebook pages throwing in a dollar or two a day, the money adds up fast for Zuckerburg and the boys.

 

With Facebook boost, you can buy clicks and likes… 

 

Using the Facebook boost system can yield great results and defining your audience and maximizing your budget are a science within themselves. I will get to this in another tutorial later, but for now, I’m going to focus on some free workarounds.

How to Get Around Facebook’s Evil Algorithm

There are two things you can do to get around what is essentially a paywall for anything that takes users off of Facebook and on to other websites. The first is to post more content that doesn’t take users off of Facebook like videos, GIFs, and images (Facebook now treats GIFs as videos). Let’s say you want to post a link to your game’s website, Facebook is going to say “Haha, screw you, peasant, this won’t even make it on your mother’s feed!”.

Instead of just posting a link to your game, try making a GIF (Using Giphy is super easy!) and then adding the link to your game in the comments. When you do this, Facebook’s algorithm will say “Oooo, yes, thanks for keeping users on Facebook and making us more money!”. You can also post lots of memes to get more eyes on your page. Once somebody visits your page, they will see only the posts that you have made, and the ones with external links will not be hidden.

 

I made this GIF in like 2 minutes to promote Origin Story’s Dev blog

 

The other workaround, which I think is more important, is to utilize Facebook groups in the indie game community, which I alluded to in the tips and tricks for free indie game promotion article. Depending on a user’s settings, members of these groups can actually receive notifications when other members post in the group. Facebook groups make a massive difference between getting buried in a feed and having thousands of users alerted on their phones when you make a post. If you came to this article through Facebook, I bet that you didn’t come through Game Borough’s Facebook page and probably saw this in an indie game development or promotion group (If so, thanks for reading!).

 

Indie Game Development and Promotion Groups on Facebook

I’m putting together a list of indie game development and promotion groups on Facebook that I’d like to keep updating. If you know of any Facebook groups that aren’t in the list, please let me know in comments or through our contact page! Be warned, however, it’s very important to read the posting guidelines for each group so you don’t get booted!

  • Indie Game Promo
  • GB Gamers (Join our group! There’s like 50 of us!)
  • There a lot more gaming groups on Facebook, but these two are specifically for promoting your games.

 

 

 

 

How to Use Basic Google Search String Modifiers

By Tim Youngblood

Search string modifiers are useful for finding things on Google and other search engines, especially if you need to do some online promotion!

In this tutorial, we’ll go over some of the basic search modifiers you can use in order to find more beneficial web pages while eliminating unwanted results. I will be using game review sites as an example, but search modifiers are helpful for just about everyone. Seriously, it’s 2018, why don’t we teach this in schools?! Anyway, let’s dive into these search modifiers and put them to use in an exercise!

 

Google Search String Modifier: Quotations

Normally, when performing Google searches, people will type in a phrase and call it good. Let’s say that I put the following sentence into the Google search bar: submit an indie game for review. 

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you should notice two things. Number one, there are almost 4 million results. Number two, while the top search result has the words submit, indie game, and review, you will not see that as an entire sentence. This top result is Google’s best guess at what you’re looking for and is pretty helpful. It even has some extra suggestions for other posts that might be helpful. This is a great place to start, but this brought up almost 4 million results and less than half of the results on page 1 are web pages that you can actually submit games for review on. I don’t want to surf through 4 million pages, so let’s see if we can narrow our search by trying “submit an indie game for review” in quotations.

 

 

If you look at the screenshot above, you should notice the obvious. My search string was too specific and I ended up with only one result. There aren’t many situations where you will search for something in all quotes. This exercise was done to illustrate the two extremes of using Google search. What we’re looking for is somewhere in between, more search results with a higher success rate. In this case, our success rate is defined as a web page where you can submit your game for review.

 

Google Search String Modifiers: AND, OR, and NOT

On the surface, these both look pretty self-explanatory, but these words are in all caps for a reason! Typing the “and” in regular lower-case letters makes it populate the search bar like any other word. The same goes for “or” and “not” in lower-case letters.

By putting these words in all capital letters, they take on the same properties as Boolean logic, more commonly known as logic gates, which is essentially computing in its most basic form. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know the inner workings of computers to become a proficient Googler. Instead, we’ll use some simple Venn diagrams! To keep things simple, and because I was too lazy to make my own diagrams, we’ll use peanut butter and jelly as an example.

 

This diagram was made by Slippery Rock University on LibGuides

 

Fortunately, the diagram above does a better job of explaining the concept than I can. The one thing it leaves out for Google search is that you can use a minus symbol (-) instead of NOT. Saving two keystrokes may not sound very significant, but the NOT function is the most commonly used Boolean search function. Trust me on this one, it adds up.

 

Google Search String Modifiers: inurl, intext, intitle

Google crawls a lot of different page elements, but the most common are the URL, text, and, page title. The in is the command to make sure your results have a certain word in that page element. So if I want a web page with the word review in the title, I can add intitle: review to my search string. The same pattern applies to inurl and intext. Now let’s put what we’ve learned into an exercise!

 

Using Google Search String Modifiers to Find Game Review Sites

Let’s say that I developed a game for PC that I want to be reviewed. I try searching for “pc game” AND review. I view my results and notice that most of them are popular sites like PC Gamer and IGN who receive hundreds of requests for game reviews a day (Maybe thousands?). I try adding “indie game” to my search to focus more on indie games so the review websites are more likely to try my game out.

I still want sites that emphasize PC games, so I change my search string to “PC game” OR “indie game” AND review. I find a lot of good websites, but now I want to avoid having to scroll through the entire site to get to the page where I submit reviews. I notice that a lot of these review submission pages have the word submit in their URLs. I can focus on web pages that have the word submit in their URLs by changing my search to “PC game” OR “indie game” AND review inurl:submit.

This search string gives me some good results, but a lot of my search results are for console and mobile game reviews and I don’t need those sites. I can further narrow my search results using the NOT modifier. I can remove unwanted keywords like android, mobile, and iOS by putting the minus symbol in front of each unwanted keyword and adding them to the end of my search query. So my search string is going to end up looking something like this:

“PC game” OR “indie game” AND review inurl:submit -android -mobile -ios

Now that you know the basics, you can play around with search modifiers to find whatever you’re looking for. If you’re trying to find something and having trouble, let me know in the comments and I’ll help you make a search string!

Tips and Tricks for Free Indie Game Marketing and Promotion

By Tim Youngblood

Every year, hundreds of games go unnoticed and developers abandon them because they either couldn’t make it profitable or nobody downloaded them. Whether you’re hoping to turn your game development into a full-time job or you’re just doing it for fun, inevitably, you will need to promote it.

I won’t be doing a traditional step by step guide, pretty much every “indie game marketing guide” ever will tell you that it’s a good idea to have a website, a trailer, and use social media. Instead, I’m focusing on some lesser known tricks as well as some things I learned not to do when promoting video games. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but hopefully, you can glean some information that marketing bloggers won’t tell you!

 

Make Sure Your Game Has a Playable Demo

A few years ago, I was helping my friends develop a game called Steve the Alright Knight. The game had an amazing trailer and generated a lot of buzz early on, but people ended up losing interest because we didn’t have a playable demo when we started promoting the game. At this point, game review sites lost interest because there was no game to play and pulled out of investing in the Kickstarter campaign without some tangible evidence that the game would ever be finished. I would say if there’s an order of operations for promoting video games, having a playable demo should come before any other marketing activity.

 

People loved the trailer and concept but got bored when there was no demo to go along with it.
 

Prepare a Media Kit

People are lazy by nature and gamers are probably even lazier. Some game review sites get hundreds of requests for games to be reviewed or covered every day. A great way for your game to stand out in the crowd is to do that staff writer’s job for them. In this case, I’m talking about having a media kit that has everything they need to write an article. This means having a synopsis of your game, media assets like screenshots and GIFs, as well as a cinematic or gameplay trailer. The best place to keep your media kit is on your website, that way you can just link to it instead of having to upload a bunch of files into every email you send to prospective coverage. Having a press kit page on your website will also make filling out contact and submission forms on websites go faster.

At this point, you have all of your media assets in one place and can proceed to send an ass-load of emails. This is all pretty straightforward and easy to do but there are few things you can do to make the game reviewer’s job even easier. Image size, file type, and file size are actually very important for online content. As someone who’s been an editor for a few websites, I can tell you that reformatting and resizing images are some of the most tedious tasks for people publishing articles online. Generally speaking, most websites prefer JPEGs over PNGs and try to keep their images under 200 kilobytes. Most featured images are 600 x 400 pixels (this is the image that shows up on a website’s blogroll, in Google search results, and on social media feeds when an article is shared). I also recommend uploading your trailer to YouTube because YouTube videos are the easiest to embed in an article. Reviewers won’t know how good a game is until they play it, and there’s a good chance that they’ll never play it if the pertinent information and media assets for your game are too difficult to find or format.

 

This is the daily life of an online editor. 

 

Should You Run a Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

If you think you can run a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to quit your job and go into full-time game development, you’re going to have a bad time. I tried that a few years ago and it did not go well. However, even though our game came nowhere near meeting its funding goal, I would still do it again (Although with a much lower funding goal). Kickstarter and Indiegogo are websites that get a ton of traffic. Even better, both websites have very little editorial oversight, meaning that it is easier to get your game shown on these websites than it is to get your game covered on a game review or news site.

 

We jumped the shark a little trying to upgrade our simple survival game (Defend Your Dojo) into an MMO.

 

That being said, the money certainly doesn’t hurt. I recommend setting a very low funding goal (like less than $2,000) to get something that will end up being crucial for the release. For example, if you’re making a multiplayer game, there’s a good chance that you will need server space. Even simple HTML games hosted on a website take additional server space beyond the bare minimum hosting package (We cheaped out on hosting for Defend your Dojo and that game crashes all the time). Maybe there’s a tool that will allow you to complete your game faster. You can even use this money to hire an agency to help with game promotion. If you are seeking money, it’s important to itemize where exactly this money is going. Don’t just say “we’re making a game please give us money.”

 

Make a Trailer but Don’t Overthink It

Earlier I said that people are naturally lazy. This also applies to people who are previewing games. Your game’s trailer is likely going to be the first thing that an internet user sees, and will likely be the determining factor and whether or not they want to learn more about your game. You may have the best game ever made and equally good documentation for it in written text, but the unfortunate reality of the situation is that video is currently the preferred form of content for internet users.

That being said, spending a ton of time making a trailer cuts into time spent developing your game. Most websites are more concerned with whether or not you have a trailer than the quality of trailer itself. What they’re really looking for is a Youtube video that they can lazily embed in an article. They aren’t expecting a blockbuster cinematic trailer while your game is still in development. They just want to get a feel for how the game plays. The gameplay trailer below was just some gameplay footage with various items shown that was screen captured through a mobile device to show how the touch controls work. It only took a few hours to put it all together.

 

This trailer was no Citizen Kane, but it did its job. (Look how easy it is to embed a Youtube video!)
 

Social Media Tricks

Even if you loathe social media, it’s pretty much impossible to market something on a low budget without it. Fortunately, the indie game community is probably one of the best and most supportive online communities in social media. On Twitter, you will be amazed at how much support you get when you use hashtags like IndieGame and IndieDev (#indiegame #indiedev). There are also several Facebook groups for indie game development and promotion!

There are a lot of nuances to social media, but one general rule is more posts will eventually net a bigger following. Fortunately, you can make an ass-load of posts without having to be glued to your computer or phone. I highly recommend using a tool like HootSuite, which allows you to schedule social media posts to go out at a later time over multiple social media platforms.

 

hashtags data by hashtagify.me

 

Prepare to Send Lots of Emails

Seriously, we are talking hundreds of emails. Sending the emails is the easy part, you can use a mail merge or a tool like MailChimp to make a nice template that can be distributed to hundreds of email addresses. The harder part is finding said hundreds of email addresses. There are marketing Services who already have collected hundreds of emails and can do a mail merge for you, but if you’re on a tight budget there’s a good chance you’ll have to find them yourself.

 

Search modifiers will become your new best friend

 

If you want to collect email addresses yourself, you’re going to need to learn how to use search modifiers in Google. Fortunately, we have a Google search modifiers tutorial. I’ll go into that deeper in the tutorial, but the basic concept is to use a Google sheet or Excel spreadsheet and copy/paste the email addresses you find on websites that review and cover games. One common search string/modifier is “video games inurl: submit”. This means that you’re looking for a website about video games and the specific page you’re looking for has the word submit in its URL. This will usually lead you to a contact form or an email address that lets you submit content (That press kit page on your website will help with those contact forms). There are a lot of different ways to modify your Google searches to find exactly what you’re looking for.

*This is by no means a comprehensive list so if you have any tips and tricks to help out the community please leave them in the comments!

*Featured image from Wikimedia Commons