Social media marketing is an aspect of indie game marketing that often gets overlooked until the last minute. On the face of it, it can seem like maintaining an active social media presence while actively developing your game is more work than it’s worth, but our experience shows us that attracting an engaged audience is invaluable in the leadup to a game’s release.
So, you should be spending the time – if you can – but, should you be spending the money? To do social media most effectively, you’re going to ideally need the use of a number of third-party tools to get the most out of the platforms you’re using. A lot of these can cost money, whether they’re an up-front cost, or a hefty monthly fee.
In today’s blog post, we’ll be looking at some of the most important areas of social media marketing, and helping to identify the most cost-effective way to get the job done.
What’s a social media post without a pretty picture to go along with it? Unless you’re really good with Microsoft Paint, the chances are that you’re going to need a decent image editor.
Photoshop is pretty much the gold standard for creating social media assets in 2020. There are plenty of free alternatives out there, such as GIMP or Pixlr, but, to put my graphic design hat on here for a moment, they’re just not quite as good.
Enter Photopea. Frankly, when I discovered that this tool existed, my mind was blown. Photopea is essentially a browser-based carbon copy of Photoshop. The tools are the same, everything is in the right place, and importantly, it just works the same as the world’s favourite image editor.
In our experience, there’s really nothing better than the good old Adobe Creative Suite, and Adobe knows that, which is why they can get away with charging knuckle-biting prices for it. But if you’re in a tight spot, Photopea will serve you well.
Social media scheduling
When you’re working on a big announcement or update, the chances are that you’re far too busy to hit “send” on a bunch of social media posts at the exact time you need to. That’s why a scheduling tool is absolutely invaluable.
Facebook is easy enough, as scheduling is baked into your page manager, so you can set up a scheduled post whenever you want, absolutely free. Twitter doesn’t have this functionality, however TweetDeck, a tool that Twitter itself actually owns and maintains, does. As with Facebook, you can write out your tweet, drop in a nice image and schedule it for a date and time with relative ease. Again, this costs nothing. So far, so good, right.
Unfortunately, Instagram is the outlier. Despite being owned by Facebook, Instagram doesn’t carry across any of the robust scheduling tools of its big brother. This is where third party apps come in handy.
The best Instagram scheduling app we’ve come across is called Later. Later’s free plan allows you to schedule up to 30 posts per month across one account. Want to post more frequently over more accounts? That’s when you need to start paying.
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop where you can schedule all of your posts in one go, that’s going to cost as well. Our personal favourite service, and one we use ourselves for our clients, is called Buffer. Buffer consolidates all of your social media accounts and allows you to schedule posts across all of them in one go. It’s the most simple solution, but of course, that comes at a price. Buffer’s pricing starts at $15 per month and goes all the way up to an eye-watering $99 a month.
Growing your following
One of the things that we are asked by clients for our help with the most is growing their social media following. There’s no way around it, this is time consuming work, and there’s no quick fix.
Your first port of call is to identify social media users that might be might be most likely to relate to your work and engage them. Find the community of gamers
One of the tools we use for our clients is called Tweepi. We’re long-time subscribers to the pro plan, but there is a free option for those on a tight budget.
Tweepi allows a user to set up AI-driven recommendations for users to follow, with the hope that said user will follow back and engage with your account. Effectively, you tell Tweepi what kind of follower you’re looking for, and Tweepi will find them for you. At the free level, Tweepi offers some, but not all, of its functionality. As always is the case, the more you can afford to spend, the more you’ll get.
Sadly, there’s no real Tweepi analogue for Facebook and Instagram, but a well-targeted Facebook/Insta ad campaign with a small spend behind it is the most effective way to expose users on those platforms to your game and convince them to engage.
Accessing your analytics
This one is fairly simple. If your goal is to get your analytics on the cheap, you’re in luck. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all supply fairly robust analytics for your posts for absolutely nothing.
Of course, every single platform formats their analytics differently, and getting them all into the same place so you can analyse your cross-platform performance can be a nightmare. Trust us, we do this for a living.
Buffer, the scheduling app we mentioned above, offers analytics in a much more thoughtful and, crucially, useful interface. Imagine that – all of your data in one place. That’s the dream, isn’t it?
You’re waiting for the catch, aren’t you? Here it is – Analyse, Buffer’s analytics plan, starts at $35 per month
Learning to write actually good tweets
Ah, that’s a trade secret. Sorry, you’re kinda on your own there.
However, if you could use the help crafting excellent social posts for maximum engagement, as well as the benefit of our social media experience, why not shoot us an email?
As we’ve seen from the above, social media marketing can be performed on a small budget, but the monetary savings will always come with a time cost and vice versa, and it’s up to you to weigh up how much of either you can afford to spend.
Here at Game if You Are, we’re always happy to offer consultation sessions and perhaps even help you get the most out of your social media while you focus on working on your game. If social media marketing is something you want to take seriously (and you should), get in touch today!