Disclosure: The organizer of the Power of Play event paid my way to Seattle, where I’m moderating a session. Our coverage remains objective.
SEATTLE — Indie game developers face an uphill battle in competing for attention with giant brand owners, but here’s some tips that they can use to level the playing field.
Jared Nieuwenhuis, the director of marketing at Nancy Drew game publisher Her Interactive, told a crowd of indie game makers at the Power of Play conference that you can grab your unfair share of social media awareness by following a series of tips that he collected over the years in publicizing his own company’s games. Here’s the list.
1. Understand your audience and where they prefer to interact with your brand. Lots of social networks are out there, so focus on your target audience. For Her Interactive’s 35 Nancy Drew games, the audience is women ages 20 to 30. They have a heavy representation on Pinterest but not on Google+.
2. Understand goals and metrics. You want to align the metrics to match your strategy. If you want to drive traffic, look at unique visitors. To create a following, look at subscribers. For interaction, focus on engagement. And for revenue, focus on your revenue numbers.
3. Set a social media calendar. Set the date for your game launch and work backward on what you have to do every single day to build a constant buzz for the title.
4. Concentrate on quality posts and daily updates. Use well-edited copy, good photos, and professional videos. Stay true to the values of your brand. You can be human, but stay on topic. If someone is subscribing to your company’s game feed, they don’t want to hear you talking about the weather. Ask yourself how a post relates to your brand. On Facebook, you can post one to four times a day. On Twitter, three to five times a day works. On YouTube, maybe one or two times a month. Make each one of those posts count.
5. Engage in real-time interaction and respond to everything within 24 hours. You can delegate channel monitoring to your staff. One person can monitor Twitter. Another can monitor Facebook. When someone has a technical problem, don’t engage with them in a long conversation. Switch them over to tech support for a private conversation.
6. Be authentic. Be human. Don’t sound like a corporate PR marketing person.
7. Help users find your content with hashtags (the # sign), as it is increasingly important on both Twitter and Facebook.
8. Have consistent branding across all channels.
9. Reward your brand advocates. One fellow named Arglefumph on Facebook has made more than 3,000 videos on Nancy Drew, and those videos have 35 million views. So Her Interactive gives Arglefumph access to a lot of game assets.
10. Zero in on your customers interests and needs. Her Interactive’s fans have asked for mobile versions and the company is finally giving them what they want.
11. On Facebook, update your fan page info. Use custom tabs. Write engaging posts. Create offers and promotions. And review insights.
12. Add a link to tweets. Use hashtags appropriately and do not try to take advantage of the scandalous story of the day. Tweet between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Use the Twitter card format, and retweet only relevant tweets.
13. On YouTube, optimize your channel name. Optimize your tags. Constantly post new content. And strategically promote your videos. Make sure brand advocates have access to videos.
14. With Pinterest, create a business profile and verify the URL. Add a “pin-it” button to the site. Link pins to your content. Share between 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
15. Measure return on investment with tools like Social Annex. Analyze the data on where the sharing happens the most.
16. Know your influencers and reward them. If one person led two people to buy something on your site, you should know that and reciprocate. This will drive engagement, which is essential for your community.
17. Take some risks. GameHouse ran a poll that showed that its women players have more sex, are more social, and are more happy than their male counterparts. Everybody in the media picked up the story.
18. For social network management, take advantage of tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Tweetdeck.
19. Delve into data from your social media channels so you know metrics like your favorability rating. If someone is talking about you, you want to know if it is positive or negative in the aggregate.
20. Learn from the bigger brands. See how they engage players and learn from it.