Using Social Media to Promote Your Indie Game
On July 15th, 2020 I launched my first commercially released game, Dave-Man.
I was, and am, very happy as my primary focus was finishing and releasing the game. I knew I couldn't do everything perfect on the first go around and kept the perspective of gaining experience for the next time.
As you could probably guess, sales were not great. I had no expectations of riches and fame, yet the sales and attention were still underwhelming.
This could be expected, not only because this was my first release, but I also diverted time away from marketing efforts to focus on finishing development. The game had taken way longer than I anticipated and I did not want to push back the release date, again.
After launching the game, taking a break to recover, and releasing some updates, I had more time and decided to focus on promoting the game. Of course, focusing on promotion after release is not the ideal method but the goal again was to learn for next time by going through the process.
I still didn't have all the time in the world and couldn't engage in every marketing effort at once.
So where to start?
Looking back at my social media accounts I realized I had been posting less about my game than I realized. So, this seemed like a logical and simple way to start.
How can you use social media to increase your game's sales?
I'm sure every indie dev has had that thought at some point.
Social media seems to be the main focus of promotion efforts for a lot of new indie developers. In discords I see new developers ask how to get more followers on Twitter or where to post on Reddit. To me, it seems like it takes up a large portion of the conversation when indie developers discuss marketing.
But honestly, how much can it do for you? I definitely wouldn't tell people not to share their game on social media or that there isn't a decent benefit, but I have started forming the opinion that social media fulfills merely a sliver of a successful marketing strategy.
So I'm more than happy to start my marketing research here! After all, maybe I'm just bitter from my game flopping!
So the real question that has been on my mind . . .
Is social media an effective tool to promote your indie game?
That is what we are about to find out!
Well, let's not say anything here is concrete. The goal of this post is to provide you with the results of one campaign and some hard numbers to go along with it. I of course will give my own thoughts along the way and draw some conclusions but the goal of that is to provide the background around the numbers.
In summary, this campaign will analyze the results of posting content to social media accounts and seeing results of organic impressions. This isn’t the only form of marketing and/or promotion I have done or plan to do, though this is the only promoting I did during this time frame and all this post will focus on.
Also note that sales have stagnated now, meaning rarely a sale without any form of promotion, so I feel I can safely assume that all sales generated in this time period were a result of this promotion.
Social Media Campaign Overview:
- 9 days long
- 9 Different Social Media Platforms
- 3-5 posts per day
- Content included images, videos, or gifs
- UTM Parameters setup to track traffic to store pages
- Organic, no paid
Nine days may seem a bit short as marketing a game should be a long-term effort. Also, a longer campaign would collect more data. My thought here was to go for volume of posts per day—hit it hard so there will be something almost any time of day—and to hit every social media platform I could to be able to compare. After the nine days I'd analyze to determine where I think my time is best spent.
Social Accounts and Setup
Since the goal of this article is to focus on the results, not tips or a how-to, I don't want to spend too much time here. Though, I didn't want to neglect the fact that this does take some time investment to setup and wanted to provide the background.
- Few hours over a couple of days capturing screenshots and GIFs
- Editing GIFs and converting to videos for platforms that don't accept GIFs
- Sorting content into folders to organize what to post each day
- Scheduling posts, which included
- Deciding time and day
- Writing fitting captions and text (attempting humor where possible)
- Creating UTM Parameters when adding links to post
Throughout this article you will see analytics with a breakdown by "Campaign" type. This is simply a UTM parameter that I add to the link to help organize data. This value can be anything I choose. Here is an example of each of the three campaign values I used.
Tom the Janitor
Dave at Home
Janitor posts are typically screenshots of Dave talking to Tom the Janitor, with some GIFs/Videos for multi-bubble conversations. The gameplay category is composed of videos or GIFs of the main gameplay - Dave collecting coffee while avoiding Chatty Cathy. Homelife has a mix of quotes from the wife, shopping online, books and other content from Dave's home.
Here is how I posted to each platform:
- YouTube Studio (native scheduling)
Later.com came in handy to schedule to multiple platforms. HooteSuite was the only platform I could find to schedule to LinkedIn. YouTube has native option for scheduling via YouTube Studio. As far as I know, I don't believe it is possible to schedule posts to Imgur, Reddit, or TikTok.
A couple of notes, as I did spend $9 for Later.com because their free version did not allow you to schedule video. I hadn't used HooteSuite in a while and back then you could not schedule to Instagram, at least not easily. I didn't really care about the $9 right now, I just wanted something that would save me some time. I might have been able to use HooteSuite's free version to accomplish this. Also, you can natively schedule Tweets on TweetDeck, which is created by Twitter. My gut tells me native is always better, but I have no proof.
Wanted to clarify that for anyone wanting to do something similar but not upgrade on Later.com. Though, I did find some features very convenient. Video cropping saved a ton of time, so I didn't have to open up some intensive video editing software just to export a different aspect ratio. They even had the dimensions preferred by platform that you could click on - such as Instagram square - and then I didn't know Twitter and Facebook landscape preferences seemed different.
I will breakdown the results of each platform individually but first let's get to the overall results - I don’t need to hold you hostage until the end of the article!
Over the course of the nine days I made 3 sales across all platforms.
I don’t believe I am allowed to discuss specifics on Steam wishlists but I can say they were barely impacted - almost not at all.
Let's take a look at the traffic to Dave-Man's store pages.
All Users Vs New Users
Traffic did seem to increase for a few days but dipped back later in the campaign. In the above graph you can see all users and new users, as in first time visitors.
Honestly, the repeat visitors are probably just me checking that the link's UTM parameters and analytics are working. In most of the data I pull I try to capture only new visitors to take myself out of the equation as I believe most repeat visitors were myself.
Social Vs Direct
All of my efforts are marked as social which is represented above by the orange line.
Direct traffic basically means we can't tell where the traffic came from; the name direct coming from someone typing it in their browser or pulling up a bookmark.
The week of this social media promotion campaign is the last dot - on the far right. Overall it seems to be a bit of a bump but nothing too significant.
Though there is one positive to take-away. The blue line is the traffic from social visits. The graph shows a three-month period in which the traffic from social sits at almost nothing, averaging a handful a week. From this week to last you can see the increase in new users (orange) mirror the increase in social. Simply showing these efforts did have an impact in the overall traffic.
Note that the spike in the middle may have been from a sale. I will have to go back and check my dates to confirm.
Analysis on every platform is coming but first I wanted to draw some conclusions on the sales and traffic alone, before you get lost in the walls of data below.
Obviously, for three extra sales there is not a significant return on investment here. If you factor in the $9 spent on Later.com I am losing money here. Besides that, the collecting, editing, and organizing of content and then scheduling, captioning and hashtagging it, I would estimate took around 7-10 hours.
With that said I want to make some early callouts:
- In no way am I suggesting game developers to not post about their games on social media
- My followers on social media were most likely already aware of my game
- Results will vary by game. I’m not negative about my game but I am realistic - the fact that it is 1bit and relies on a very retro mechanic makes it not very eye catching. Adding in layers of very dry humor makes it very niche . . . if there is a niche for it!
- This was not a highly optimized campaign. Though it still took work, it was basically grab a bunch of content and throw it out there to see what sticks. Some content was not optimal across all platforms and I didn't over-analyze the minor optimizations such as time of day.
With that said I hope it is clear this article is not meant to be a case against promoting on social media. I'm sure we have all seen some success stories and like I mentioned before, the results will vary and the goal here is to provide you with my results.
As I’m writing this article, I received a newsletter from an Indie Game Marketer that I subscribe to. A part of it seems spot on to what we are looking at here:
Though he is calling out Twitter specifically here I feel it is pretty applicable to all social media.
If you show your game on social media and get likes, RTs, and comments saying "This game looks awesome!" you start thinking to yourself "Hey, I'm making it here! People are loving it!"
But when it comes down to comparing sales vs social media following you will find that only a tiny percent of your followers, likers, RTs and people that said "I can't wait to play this" end up pulling the trigger to buy your game. Statistics show it is hard enough just to get them to click a link.
Same goes for witnessing "success" from others. You see an indie game's social media accounts blowing up causing you to think they are making it big! But really, we have no idea if that time in the spotlight turns into sales. It seems like a normal assumption to make if you have never been in their shoes - as in if you have never released a game and/or had that much attention on social media - but one doesn't always mean the other.
I recommend reading that article, not only for more context around the quote I shared, but if you are enjoying this post you should enjoy that one as well and it makes some marketing tactic recommendations.
This was also a nice segway as now we get into the breakdown by each social media platform. Which one is first? You guessed it!
By the Numbers:
- 31 Tweets over the 9 days*
- 15 of the Tweets Contained Links
- 2 Click-throughs from Tweets
- 3 Clicks-throughs from Bio Link
- 22 Clicks to (Twitter) Profile
- 1859 Followers at beginning of Campaign
- 1856 Followers at end of campaign
- 2 - 21 Likes per Tweet
*Twitter being my most active account I did have occasional impromptu tweets or RTs mixed in. The 31 is the count of Dave-Man content Tweets.
Note: The 3 click-throughs from my bio are not on this graph. Twitter's Bio URL has a character limit so I had to shorten twitter to twi to make it fit.
Twitter statistically has a very low click-through rate so these numbers did not surprise me.
This is also the reason why I did not include the link in every tweet. As you can see there are significantly more clicks to my profile than link click-throughs. The fact that there is a Steam Link in my bio and that of the 15 tweets with a link only 1 time did a bot RT - I feel it is almost just as good to not include a link.
Not much to analyze here. One click from a tweet with gameplay and another with content from Dave's home.
Just as above, but shows one is a video and another is a still image.
Not much to notice at first glance here but let's draw some conclusions from the hashtags.
Of course my top tweet would be ones that I include #screenshotsaturday, #gamedev, and #indiedev. Probably the most popular hashtags in the Twitter indiedev community.
The problem is that these hashtags target indiedevs, not gamers.
Not all my tweets contained these hashtags. I tried to mix it up, especially since I was tweeting frequently. I used general hashtags such as #videogame, #steam and #pcgame to try and capture general video game audience. I used hashtags such as #retrogame, #indiegame, and #pacman (on gameplay video containing the PacMan mechanic) in attempts to reach my more niche audience. Then I used hashtags based on what was in the content, such as #cat, #banana, #book, or #watercooler, just in case people are searching for those things, I guess?
To recap the hashtag situation:
- The tweets that seem to do well, as in Likes/RTs/Follows, typically include the hashtags targeting IndieDevs.
- These hashtags also get picked up by some RT Bots amplifying their reach.
- The other hashtags do not seem to perform well or get noticed.
I think this is pretty obvious for anyone that has been around the block on Twitter. I feel like stating it plainly makes you think about it a bit more though. Do you:
- Go after your target market and fail?
- Go after people that are not your target market and just enjoy some vanity metrics?
I may be playing a bit of Devil's Advocate here but I think this is important for new Indie Devs to understand. The IndieDev community on Twitter is great and very supportive but they are not your target audience and should not expect them to convert into sales.
There are other aspects to utilize this Twitter community for, such as feedback, advice, and inspiration. Also, some streamers and press may lurk these hashtags, which can really amplify your reach.
Anyway, let's move on!
This is just a snapshot of my Twitter Analytics dashboard over the last 28 days, so not specific to the campaign, but you can see that most numbers are down from the previous period.
I believe this is due to Twitter being my most active account. Most of my followers on Twitter already knew about Dave-Man so this is not brand new content to their eyes.
In fact, a lot of the active game dev community has probably already seen a GIF or something of Dave-Man, if they ever browse the hashtags. I successfully funded a Kickstarter in which a lot of fellow developers on Twitter backed me. So posting additional content or more frequently on Twitter does not reach too many more people that aren’t aware of the game.
Followers went up and down. At some point I was up. So I actually gained and lost several followers.
I don’t blame them as the frequency did even seem spammy to myself. I nixed the last 2 scheduled tweets and ended early, which is why you will see a total of 33 posts on some of the following platforms. But at the same time, someone that unfollowed due to 31 tweets in 9 days about my first game released probably was not a die-hard follower anyway.
I was actually very curious about this and launched a post-campaign poll.
Though only 11 people voted, the results were surprisingly good! Of course, I guess anyone that found it really annoying already unfollowed!
From this, I conclude that you can't focus on clickthroughs and sales alone. Of course that may be the final goal but you have to keep branding in mind. By that I mean keep posting content but try to entertain instead of sell. People are following you because they like your content - so don't feel bad about giving it to them. But in the words of Gary V, paraphrase, you give, give, give, give, give, give, before you ask. I think I believe it is more gives, but you get the idea.
But hold on! I thought we were done, too!
As I was writing this article I read a marketing article that suggested instead of trying to sell you simply ask them a question. For example "how are you planning on purchasing my game? On Steam or Itch.io?" The question puts the thought in their head. The thought "oh, I haven't bought their game yet" and then makes them consider how they will actually go about doing it.
So I decided to launch a Twitter poll asking if my followers if they have played Dave-Man yet. No hashtags included because I the poll focused on my followers.
Only 27 votes out of 1856 followers but you can see that, by combining the "not played" and "only played the demo" category, over 70% of respondents have not converted into sales!
So it looks like a large part of my following have not purchased Dave-Man. A lot not played at all, not even the demo!
Of course I knew that already since I have way more Twitter followers than I do sales of Dave-Man, but this changes the perspective a bit. No doubt that a large portion will never convert but there is still unreached potential here.
Also, let's not forget some users might not be that active or browse their feed much. Those users may not have seen a lot of Dave-Man content.
So maybe I should consistently tweet Dave-Man content after all?
By the Numbers:
- 33 Posts
- 2 Click-Throughs (from bio url)
- 49 Clicks to (Instagram) Profile
- 262 Followers before campaign
- 275 Followers at end of campaign
Of course since Instagram does not allow links in posts the only source of traffic comes from the profile URL. Throughout the campaign I received 49 clicks to my profile and 2 clicks on the link in my bio.
Though only 2 click-throughs to store pages, which is what we were looking for here, increasing 13 followers in 9 days isn’t bad. Nothing to write home about but I had not previously posted content regularly on Instagram, so good to see a bit of traction.
So I'm actually fairly satisfied with the campaign on Instagram. The posting frequency seemed acceptable and generated views, profile clicks, and follows.
Here are some more specific Instagram analytics:
Note: The post in color was not part of this campaign and was not counted. For these screenshots I could only choose Last 30 Days or Last 7 Days with no option in between.
Likes ranged from 5 - 53; a typical post earning likes in the 20s.
It is curious to see which ones generally did better. Especially that images generally outperformed videos in likes, impressions, and interactions. In the future I may stick to mostly still images for traditional posts and use Reels or IGTV when wanting to post video.
One explanation for video not doing as well could be the aspect ratio. Some of the videos had to be posted as landscape, instead of the traditional Instagram square aspect ratio, which could be less captivating on this platform.
The content that did well was interesting as well.
Instagram Top Post
You can see the top post here was of Tom the Janitor telling Dave that nothing gets delivered on Sundays. Of course, I did post this on a Sunday!
Generally it seemed that posts of Tom the Janitor did the best, followed by posts from Dave at home, and surprisingly coming in last is gameplay from playing the levels.
By The Numbers:
- 33 Posts
- 30 Click Throughs
- All Click-throughs came from screenshots, not videos
- 8 Likes / Reactions
- 1 New “Page Like”
I was very surprised with the amount of click-throughs here!
30 click-throughs for 33 posts - almost 1 per post. But the posts with videos generated no clicks. So subtracting out video posts brings it down to 17 posts, so almost 2 per post. That number can be reduced further since every post didn’t have a link . . .
But I’m also not sure how much I trust this. For example, could these be bots that are checking the link? I haven’t done any research on this, and not sure if I care to. Quickly looking at the analytics I don’t see any link clicks recorded - but not sure if they do record them - but most posts show zero interactions.
Another surprise here is that all the clicks came from screenshots. No clicks came from videos. Remember that Facebook does not allow posting GIFs so screenshots and videos were the only content here.
With no research backing this, just by looking at my Facebook page and some analytics, I believe uploading a video does not count as a post. I believe it may go straight into Facebook Video, or Facebook Watch, whatever they are calling it now. Years ago I know they were trying to compete with cable TV and YouTube with their own programming. My thinking is that they take any video uploaded and lump it into this program.
Above you can see a pretty even split between clicks from content about talking to Tom vs Dave at home. All the gameplay content was in video form, which received no clicks.
Posts average around 10 impressions and 20 reach. Which pales in comparison if you share your posts into different gamedev/indiedev Facebook groups where you get 1k - 2k Reach. Though, I’m pretty confident these groups are not your target market and will do little or nothing to your sales. Possibly a few streamers browse these groups and you could get lucky but I’m pretty sure the only people that browse these groups are the ones posting and the “Reach” added when sharing there is pretty meaningless.
Facebook Top Post
Honestly, Facebook is dead to me.
Which is a reason why I do appreciate the post scheduling apps. I would not spend the time to post on platforms like Facebook and Pinterest individually. But if all I have to do is check another check mark then might as well.
Give me a shout if you have a Facebook page for your game that is doing anything for you. Would love to hear about it.
By the Numbers:
- 17 Pins
- 0 Click-Throughs . . . well 1, but that was from me to check it was working
No click throughs from Pinterest so no graph on this one.
Note that it is 17 Pins, down from the 33 posts on other platforms, since Later.com does not allow you to schedule videos or GIFs. So I only posted the screenshots to Pinterest. As with Facebook, I basically posted to Pinterest because it was an option to do so and didn’t take up any more time. If it wasn’t an option, I would not have posted there.
To be clear, I rarely use Pinterest and have no clue how to optimize or grow a following on Pinterest. The content was also not tailored towards Pinterest - I used the same screenshots, description, and hashtags I used for Facebook or Instagram. So to be fair, I gave zero effort here.
Pinterest Post Example
I do believe Pinterest still has some SEO relevance. It was a few years back when I heard that - which is an eternity in the SEO world - so that could have changed by now. That also made me think I should have linked to my personal page instead of the Steam page - to build my SEO as Steam doesn’t need much help - but kept the links to the Steam page for consistency’s sake.
Also, I did not know until after the experiment about “upgrading to a free Pinterest business account” with one click of a button which allows you to see analytics. But apparently these analytics are not back-dated so all the analytics showed blank . . . or no one actually saw these pins.
My conclusions on Pinterest? I believe this is too short of a campaign to measure anything. Though, I guess that means not to look to Pinterest for short term results.
By the Numbers:
- 32 Posts
- 0 Click-Throughs (besides me again, to check the UTM parameter setup)
- 7 Business Page Followers. No change. All people I know and invited to like the page
Again no clicks so no traffic chart.
I was not expecting LinkedIn to deliver much success here. I created the company page about a week before the game was launched and only had 3 posts prior. The only people following the page right now are a handful of people I invited.
At first glance this chart looks like the posts were getting out there and getting some views.
But when you break it down it doesn't seem to be the case. The average day is around 10 views. With 7 followers and 3 posts a day there could be 21 impressions from page followers alone.
So how did one day get 30 impressions?
That day I invited Scowsh, the composer for Dave-Man, to rightfully mark himself as an employee of Lou Bagel Industries. I'm assuming he scrolled through the page viewing all the posts, since there weren't that many, to make up the difference. I confirmed in analytics that it was indeed the day he followed.
I feel this chart is a bit more representational.
LinkedIn Unique Impressions
So 1-3 people saw posts per day. I'm not sure if they mean unique for that day or in general, so I'm not sure if this means 9 different people saw the posts or the number could be as low as 3. For example, the one person most days could have been myself.
I am a bit surprised that almost no views were created by the hashtags though. I know LinkedIn is not a place where gamers go to find games. But the typical #indiedev and #gamedev hashtags are so infrequently used that I would have thought a couple fellow developers might see the posts when checking the hashtags before or after posting themselves.
LinkedIn Top Post
Again, drawing any conclusions here are probably premature since the page is so new. It would be like Tweeting a link with zero followers then saying Twitter doesn't work for promoting your game.
The main reason I added LinkedIn to this campaign is to get some content on the page. One for any random visitors, so the page doesn't look sad and abandoned with only three posts. The other reason is in case I want to do some paid advertising as I believe you typically grab some posted content to promote. One great thing about LinkedIn is people post their job titles. So if you can target job titles such as “Games Journalist”, “YouTuber”, or “Twitch Streamer” the ads could be worth the money. I previously looked at throwing a few bucks at this strategy but believe I didn’t have much content ready for the ads.
By the Numbers:
- 15 Videos
- 1 Click-through
- 10 Views
- 46 Subscribers (No Change)
This isn’t a big surprise here either. With only 46 subscribers and not promoting these videos elsewhere the 1 click-through and 10 views isn’t the worst it could have been.
Important notes as well, the content here was not targeted towards YouTube. The same videos I used for the other platforms were used here with some being as short as 14 seconds.
Update: 23 views now but I've also started to use these videos (embedded) elsewhere which contributed to the views.
I’m hopeful to give a go at YouTube in the future by creating a few tutorials and better suited content, such as this blog post in video form. At this time though I did not have the time to edit videos more suited for YouTube and was thus an afterthought.
Though it is handy to have some content already uploaded. Already, just a few days after, I've used them in a post on IndieDB and as posts to Google itself. Both of which you upload to YouTube instead of directly to these platforms. Also, I may write my next article about one of these two - IndieDB or Google Posts.
By the Numbers:
- 3 Posts*
- 6 Different Subs
- 17 Click-throughs
- 130 Upvotes (approximate)
- 100 Upvotes on best post
*The first post was crossposted across multiple subs. More on this below.
Decent traffic from Reddit. The post that received 100 upvotes was posted mid-day on the 27th. No surprise that is the high point on the graph with a tail of action trickling in after.
Reddit Campaign Details
Analysis is very straightforward here since only three posts on Reddit and one of each type. The Home-life was on the 27th, the gameplay was on the 25th, and the janitor was on the 1st. I did check the following days and there were no additional click-throughs after the 1st.
For those that don’t know, Reddit has a general policy against too much self-promo. If you don’t know, look elsewhere, as I’m not expert on this topic. What I do know is I can’t just spam 33 posts in the course of 9 days. I also don’t enjoy posting the same thing to every relevant sub.
So what I did was make 1 post and crosspost it to all the relevant subs I could. Some subs don’t allow crossposting so I make the post a couple more times.
After a few days I factored in the results and the different community guides on how lenient they are with the self-promo and just picked one sub, which was r/IndieDev, which I posted this to:
Reddit Top Post
To my surprise, especially since it is a screenshot of a book, it did very well! At least relative to my other posts, ending up around 100 upvotes. The link placed in the comments received 13 clicks and my guess is it led to a sale.
I meant to follow up with additional posts but was just pretty busy this week and didn’t post gain until the last day.
I'd definitely say Reddit is worth posting and being active on. That conclusion isn't from this campaign alone but from success stories of others as well. I still need to figure out how to approach the self-promo rule and multiple subs, as in which are worth the time and what to post where.
By the Numbers:
- 9 Posts
- 8 Click-Throughs
- 4 Posts with positive voting
- 14 Upvotes (excluding default upvote from myself)
- 13 Downvotes
- 828 Views
Note: No additional page views from Imgur after the 1st
Overall it isn't a ton of click-throughs but I'd say it is pretty good given how my content performed on Imgur. Majority of my posts get downvoted right away leaving them buried in the algorithm.
The ratio above doesn't look bad but one post did well, relatively, at 7 upvotes to 1 downvote. Removing this outlier leaves a total of 7 upvotes and 12 downvotes spread around the other posts.
This post that performed well accounted for 234 of the views while other posts spanned between 50-80. Looking at past Imgur posts of mine there are plenty with over a thousand views, but being older ones I'm not sure how much they continue to accumulate views. My point though, avoiding those early downvotes can really shoot up your impressions.
Remember, the marketing results will vary greatly depending on the appeal of the product.
The "dump" refers to an Imgur dump, which is basically just a post with multiple images/videos. I understand why they call it a dump now because I literally just grabbed 20 or so files and dumped them into the browser. Very low effort here.
Though we don't have a lot of data to analyze here you can see that the gameplay footage did better than the screenshots. That surprises me a bit since Imgur is basically a meme platform, and my screenshots are usually of meme-like conversation or situations, and most other platforms it seemed the screenshots outperformed the gameplay footage.
Maybe the text is too difficult to read from the feed? I don't browse Imgur myself. Or maybe I'm just too old for this audience? :)
Imgur Top Post
I’m not sure if I don’t understand Imgur, or if the Imgur fanbase don’t like my content. I’ve heard that pixel art and indie games generally don’t do well there, but on the other hand I’ve heard massive success stories from Imgur. By that I just mean viral posts with lots of attention or traffic.
My conclusion though is to keep posting there and learn as I go. Though I generally don't perform well on Imgur I'd say it is an easy platform to post to where you will definitely get around 50 views on every post with potential to get into the thousands.
I'd also think that Imgur is a great place to do early testing on what appeals to the masses. Since you don't have followers it seems like every post lives on its own and can test out different iterations. Of course don't over-analyze as one unfortunately timed downvote can seem to kill a post.
If any of you have any Imgur tips please send them my way!
By the Numbers:
- 6 Posts
- 34 Likes
- 1061 Views
- 2 New Followers
For TikTok I don’t have an option for a link in my bio, so I can’t provide a link at all. Though, the traffic here could potentially have led to traffic on Instagram or YouTube as my TikTok does have links to my Instagram and YouTube. Not really worth analyzing though.
Another note is that Dave-Man content doesn’t work great on TikTok due to the aspect ratio. To keep Dave in the frame I have to do editing to constantly pan the camera around. Even so, then sometimes you can’t see enough of the level to know what is going on or Chatty Cathy isn’t in the frame to make it interesting at all.
TikTok Top Post
So even though the content isn’t great for TikTok I figured I’d still post to see what happens as I haven’t posted much Dave-Man content before. TikTok isn’t the best place for indiedevs or pixel art, in my opinion, so results seemed par for the course.
One result I did find here was about song choice. Two posts that did well were ones that used the classic Super Mario Brothers track and another that used PacMan audio. Instead of hopping on the popular trends hoping to get that mass appeal these went more niche. Completely logical, but hadn't tried that before. The audio is also less prominent so more difficult to track down a good version.
Conclusions here would be to continue posting and grab clips that work well with TikTok's aspect ratio. Though this may take more work to create you can see that the views on the 6 posts here surpassed the views on the 9 posts on Imgur. Another situation of not posting enough nor trying different content to really figure out a tactic here.
First, let's take a look at the data from all channels sorted by Campaign type. Note that traffic with no campaign type set is not included here which means this is only data from this campaign.
Note: pr is for profile. Had to shorten it due to character restrictions. These come from Twitter and Instagram.
This is the data across all social channels broken down by campaign type. You can see that content from Dave at home received the most click throughs and level gameplay footage came in last, excluding the profile url clicks and the Imgur dump.
I am pretty surprised that the gameplay category came in last. Obviously this homelife and janitor content is specific to my game but here is a conclusion I can draw that applies to anyone:
Don't expect to know what type of content will do best without trying it. Post about different parts of your game and see how people react. It is very easy to think "I bet people will love this the most" and become blind to the rest.
Facebook may have brought in the most clicks but I'm not sure of the quality, or even the validity.
Reddit takes the cake here. Though, I did have one post do relatively very well, by my standards. If a post had similar success on Imgur I'd probably expect some similar traffic.
let's not take our eyes off those 3 clicks from the twitter bio, which show as twi/social here. The average session duration is by far the highest, as Quora was not part of this campaign.
Note that I'll need to give myself a refresher on how average session duration is calculated, but I believe the time is not tracked unless another event happens. In this case, since these are store pages that I don't control, I'm not sure if there are any other events setup besides travelling to another page that is also on my same analytics tracking id. This is why all categories that have only 1 page per session end up with a 100% bounce rate and 0 time.
There is my developer homepage but I don't see visitors travelling there in the analytics. It might be a little presumptuous but by process of elimination I would guess that the actions could be purchasing the game, or at least adding it to their cart or wishlist.
If that is the case, it looks like Twitter and Reddit are really the winners here. Of course keep in mind we made some presumptions and this is a very small study, which I've been told to be cautious in over-analyzing when quantity of data is low.
Traffic may have been a little higher this week than previous weeks and a couple of sales were generated that probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
But honestly, I am relieved that this is not the way forward. People enjoyed the content more than I thought so will make sure to post periodically, but I am glad that this almost-spammy level of posting isn’t what is required to have your indie game make it.
Maybe it isn’t spammy, and if you are making something you SHOULD shout it from the rooftops - who cares if you lose a few followers or some people get annoyed, those aren’t the ones you care about anyway - but I enjoy being myself, as the game developer, on social media. I don’t enjoy turning into an automated posting machine. There were a few times I had something impromptu I wanted to post but felt like it would get in the way of my scheduled posts.
Maybe I’m overthinking it.
For me, I think I may use post schedulers to schedule on Saturdays for #screenshotsaturday on Twitter, since I am usually coaching soccer on Saturdays and miss it. Then throw in some posts throughout the week, such as in the morning, if I have the content.
Thinking about all the time I’ve spent on Twitter, which I wouldn’t even know how to count, and the results from this experiment—2 click throughs. Not 2 sales, just 2 clicks! It is almost like, what is the point! That is totally not worth it!
But that is totally not true. I have connected with many other game devs and pixel artists on Twitter. I have found other devs and artists to do ask for advice, do game jams with, receive great tips and feedback. A lot of these people I would call a friend even though I’ve never seen a lot of their faces - not in person, in general, I wouldn’t even know its them if I saw them!
The results of my little Twitter poll are a relief though. I lost a few followers but none of my current followers said the volume of posts were annoying. Almost half of respondents said they enjoyed it! Though I won’t be posting in that volume it gives me confidence to keep posting. The goal of these posts won’t be to drive sales though; the goal will be simply to have enjoyable posts. That way I can put some smiles on people’s faces. Hopefully it will lead to some sales too, but at least I’ll feel more genuine about it and will be keeping social media more social.
Also, the majority of my Kickstarter backers at higher tiers were from people I previously chatted with on Twitter. A lot of them I doubt even got around to play my game! They are probably too busy working on their own game, and they probably knew that but just wanted to support!
Final Thoughts: Keep Social Media Social
So let's treat social media as what it is: a social tool, not a marketing platform. Of course use it to help benefit your marketing of your game—shout your game from the rooftops—but don’t try to use a hammer to screw in a screw. It won’t work! You will mess up your wall and possibly your hammer too!
I've heard that small business, including freelancers and one man operations, typically try to portray themselves as a big company. They are probably think a large, established company sounds more trustworthy to a potential customer than a shoe string operation.
But on the flip side, large companies have been trending towards trying to act smaller—they want the customer to feel like they are interacting with a friend, not a mega-corporation without a face.
So I'm suggesting indie developers use the fact they are small or solo to their advantage. Interact as yourself. I think authenticity is under-rated in the business world.
. . . and as I was editing this I thought "this sound a little too rainbows and sunshine" - as in we should all just be friends and not worry about running a business. But then this happened:
A few weeks back I purchased a notebook off Redbubble from the pixel artist Moertel that I have been following. I received it in the mail a few days after this campaign ended. As soon as I opened it up I took a picture of it, alongside my other pixel art notebooks, and tagged her in a tweet. She quote retweeted it thanking me.
So what's so special here?
That day I received 16 click-throughs from my Twitter Bio! Remember, the entire campaign I only received 3 clicks from my Twitter bio, and 5 from Twitter altogether!
Honestly, I feel like this one exchange from me buying something from a fellow pixel artist and her returning the thanks almost accomplished more than the entire campaign!
So yeah, I guess I'll stick by my stance of making sure to stay social on social media!