Gamedev on social media. What are your thoughts?

pixeltroid

Member
I have a twitter and instagram account dedicated to promoting my game projects. I try to upload something everyday (new designs, gameplay footage) with the following hashtags -- #platformer #gamedev #indiegame #indiegamedev #pixelart

I've been super active on a daily basis since July 2020. At this point in time, I have only 78 followers on twitter and 65 followers on instagram. I understand that followers won't translate into sales but I have noticed the following benefits:
- I know I am creating some awareness of my game. It's not much but it's better than absolutely nothing.
- The likes, retweets and interactions excite me and keeps me motivated. It reduces the psychological weight of having to create stuff in complete isolation, which is what I've been doing.
- My twitter and instagram accounts helps me keep track of my project's evolution.
- Maintaining my twitter and instagram is like a side-hobby which helps me learn about social media, networking. It also introduces me to like-minded game developers and game-related news.
- Knowing that people are watching my work keeps me on my toes drives me to create better work. If I wont put it on my social media, I wont put it on my game.

What are your thoughts on using social media for your game development projects?
 

woods

Member
sounds like you are doing it right ;o)
a means to get the word out.. and a means to keep you on your toes at the same time. i'd call that a win win.
if it keeps you motivated.. cool. that means you wont get bored or frustrated with it as easy.. and will stay on top of your game more.


personally, i have a looong way to go before i push ANYTHING at the public ;o)

keep it up!
 

woodsmoke

Member
Can you give us a link to your Twitter and Instagram?

I've been thinking of opening an Instagram account but my posts aren't regular enough chronologicaly.

Here's my Twitter! I mix gamedev with drawing. Probably a bad idea.
 
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FrostyCat

Member
I'm not a huge fan of daily posting schedules for single-developer studios. Here's why:
  • Having such an overactive social media presence without delegation is a major distraction from real work.
  • It results in a lot of shallow, unpolished and repetitive content.
  • You end up making or implying under-tested promises you might not be able to keep down the road.
  • Once you get your followers used to a daily schedule, you leave yourself with no room for downtime or emergencies.
  • Joining a local or online industry group is likely better for professional contacts than personal social media.
  • Source control and kanban boards are much more effective and focused alternatives for progress-tracking than any social media.
Other than unscheduled updates such as acceptance into a store or a release, consider a weekly or bi-weekly schedule to buffer your development and push out more focused, better thought-out content. Your project will progress faster this way.
 
I'm inbetween @FrostyCat's and @pixeltroid's perspectives. Social media definitely keeps me more motivated and prevents me from having extended downtimes as I feel a slight nagging pressure in the back of my head to post. However, my method is to interact with other people daily, and only post content updates when I've gotten something new and shareable done. I'll then ride the coat-tails of that content for a few days/a week or so (by doing things like sharing the tweet with said content on "Post your work" tweets by other people, and staggering the release of the content across the multiple platforms I'm using) until I get to the point where I have a new share-able thing. This lets me actually get the work done, while still maintaining a presence and keeping my work in front of eyeballs.

The biggest thing about sharing your work is that people need to see it multiple times, in multiple places, before they start to really think "Hey, maybe I should check this out." So ignoring regular posts and just working on the game is not a path that is very conducive to people actually engaging with your game (and potentially becoming buyers). But an overactive social presence definitely hampers development, especially for a one person "team", so it's a bit like juggling. Take your eye off one ball for too long or focus too much on one ball and you'll run into problems.
 

pixeltroid

Member
The biggest thing about sharing your work is that people need to see it multiple times, in multiple places, before they start to really think "Hey, maybe I should check this out." So ignoring regular posts and just working on the game is not a path that is very conducive to people actually engaging with your game (and potentially becoming buyers). But an overactive social presence definitely hampers development, especially for a one person "team", so it's a bit like juggling. Take your eye off one ball for too long or focus too much on one ball and you'll run into problems.
Yes. Sharing work through gifs, videos and images leaves your work out there for people to notice. That's how brands are built. The logo and related visuals are displayed strategically in a way that it can burrow into the minds of potential consumers.

I agree that an overactive social presence hampers development of the actual product, but small indiedevs have to be able to balance time between promoting and developing. If they just work and not promote, then any work that's done will not be seen, and purchased later.
 
I post on Twitter very rarely. I treat it mostly as a fun waste of time, and will continue to do so until my game is actually polished enough where it'll start bringing in loads of followers every post. For now, I just post when I'm extremely bored, and try to make friends on there.

Also, Twitter follower count is NOT much of an indicator of sales/KS success. I've seen people with thousands of Twitter followers make ZERO DOLLARS on KS, and I've seen people with only a few hundred make $20k. And everything in between. I talked to someone who studied hundreds of KS campaigns years ago, and most social media people are window shoppers - it's really easy to follow someone or press "like." It's not so easy to actually pay for a game. Having 100 really engaged core followers who will create word of mouth for you is way better than having a thousand people who barely care about your game.

Anyway, I'd post however you want to, and treat it mostly as something that's just for fun. There's an overwhelming chance it won't affect your game's sales much one way or another. Great games sell because word of mouth and hype spread like wildfire about them. Everything else just kind of....floats by, I think. I think 99% of everyone's efforts should be going toward their games, and 1% should be spent on social media and stuff, unless you're having fun with it or using it as a motivational tool. Definitely don't feel like you have to post daily or even weekly, though!

Edit: Also, general advice for anyone doing Twitter: don't do follow for follow, or follow people hoping for follows back. It only creates empty followers and wastes your time and energy. Focus on making actual friends on Twitter, or actual followers. Don't try playing games to boost your follower count. Not worth the hassle. You'll get nothing out of it!

Ah, also: #screenshotsaturday always does well for me, and I read before that using more than two tags is usually a bad idea and gets you less engagement. I'm not sure if that's because of Twitter's algorithms or if because people go "ew, stop spamming tags" when there are more than two tags, though. I used to use like four or five tags per tweet too, but most people seem to keep it really low, or skip using tags altogether even, sometimes, just relying on retweets to get their stuff pushed around.

Posting on r/pixelart is another good idea if you just want some engagement and encouragement, probably. It's more fair than Twitter, because everyone has the same amount of views on their work there.
 
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Also, Twitter follower count is NOT much of an indicator of sales/KS success.
This is definitely true, but I don't think anyone has been claiming any direct correlation so far. And having 100 core fans is the premise of like, every modern day "indie internet selling" thing ever, whether it's music, games, literature, etc. The problem is getting that 100 core fans, which can require a lot of outreach depending on what niche your game sits in. Making a really good game is no guarantee of sales either, in the same way that Twitter followers is no guarantee of sales. There's just too much flotsam and overcrowding going on. Steam releases an average of 10 games a day right now, so even if your game is pretty to look at and solid to play with an interesting premise, it still has to compete with a lot of other "space takers" in peoples minds.

This is where the point of "get your game in front of as many eyeballs as possible consistently" is useful. Humans generally dislike novelty (or rather, there's a specific peak between novelty and familiarity that most people like; too much in either direction and engagement starts to drop off). You, as an indie developer, are never going to be able to crowd the marketing space enough to make people bored of seeing your game, so your entire goal is to get your game out there enough that people become at least a tiny bit familiar with it. It's the same reason as to why companies pay millions for superbowl ad slots. People will buy that which they recognise but haven't tried (or are reminded of again).

Doing no promotion and just focusing on your game is bad, doing mostly promotion and ending up with a half-baked game is also bad. You've got to try to hit the sweet spot so that you get your game finished and polished up, but also have made a group of people out there generally familiar with your game and able to recognise it on sight, which is what then drives those first sales (creating your 100 core fans), the ol' "Hey, I remember seeing this game around, it looked pretty cool, I'll give it a buy now that it's out and see what's it like to play" and then really liking it.
 
This is definitely true, but I don't think anyone has been claiming any direct correlation so far.
I didn't say anyone did. I was just pointing it out because it feels like some indie devs chase empty followers through stuff like follow for follow and stuff.

For the rest:
I've watched a million KS campaigns. Every great looking game I noted EXPLODED in popularity, no matter how much or how little social media presence the game had. Obviously, having more Twitter followers will never hurt anyone, but it feels like there's WAY less luck and advertising involved in indie game success than most indie devs think, to me.

Would you rather throw a thousand matches into a soaked field during a rainstorm, or one match into a bone dry one in the middle of August? Which fire is going to further?
Mediocre, okay, and even "good" games are varying degrees of wet matches. Great games are dry. I've called "this guy is going to be RICH." enough times to know that, or to feel strongly about it, at least.

I'm just speaking from intuition, though. There's no way to prove what percentage of a game's success comes from social media vs quality, obviously. Even if I made a million dollars on KS next month with under a thousand Twitter followers (lol, right 😅), half the forum would still say "that doesn't mean anything! There's always luck involved!", hahah. And I wouldn't be able to definitively prove them wrong! =')

It's best to do social media and gamedev, of course, but I'd focus 99% (well, maybe 90%, hahah) on gamedev. Everyone should find the ratio they're most comfortable with and go for it! 😃

Edit: I should also add.....if you post once every few weeks on Twitter and your game looks great, I think you'll inevitably end up with a hundred "core fans" very quickly, without much work. I just see a lot of game developers clawing and scraping for followers, breaking their back making gifs constantly, only to end up with three new followers a week. That crap isn't worth it. I guess that's my main feeling about social media. Yes, use it. But make sure your game is GREAT first, or it's not going to matter. You're going to end up with five sales on Steam either way, and you'll have wasted TWICE as much time as you should've getting there. That's why I'm avoiding Twitter mostly right now too, like I said...I'll start posting when every post I make nets me a hundred new followers, instead of five. Anything less, and you're really just wasting time you could be spending making your game more salable, I think. :(
 
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I wonder how useful KS is to promotion in general? I tend to ignore literally all KS' so I haven't paid attention to what success they garner (or what methods they use, etc). Though you always have to be careful that you're not seeing the algorithm's themselves push campaigns that reach certain hidden criteria (therefore, you see it early), which in turn helps boost the games popularity into success. A weird form of confirmation bias I guess. I've seen a few people talk about KS in post-mortems, with varying degrees of success (and generally, all of them had fun, attention grabbing games). But I'm not interested in KS' anyway, as I've said. I'd literally never back a project, no matter how good it looks.
 
@RefresherTowel: From the info I gathered before, KS is great for promotion. A huge chunk of backers come directly from people browsing KS, based on traffic stats. Twitter only made up a terrible 1-5% of traffic referrals for most projects, iirc. Up to 10% for luckier people, iirc? A lot of it was from KS itself, and from random traffic, meaning probably word of mouth links. That's another reason I'm not super hot on Twitter and the like, hahah.

I got this info years ago though, so don't quote me. If you ask around on TigSource, someone will give you more solid, recent stats, I'm sure. My takeaway from the info I got before was "lol, social media sucks," though. I do remember that clearly enough. X'D
 
Ah ok, I get relatively good traffic from twitter, but much better from reddit. The most successful post I made on either was a tutorial that led to a few hundred unique views to the games website on the day of (and a steady trickle of ongoing traffic) that then led on to quite a few clicks through to the Steam page. I just like twitter because it's quick to post and easily linkable in most other places. Though I try to drive all traffic over to the actual website for the game, from all sources. Having said that, I definitely would not rely on twitter to do a lot of work; as you said, clicking like is easy (same as clicking upvote on reddit), but follow through is much harder to get.
 
Alright, I just pulled up my PM with the guy to make sure I wasn't accidentally lying to you guys, and he said that generally, you should plan to get 50% of your funding from outside of KS, meaning you can expect half of it to come from KS traffic itself, I guess. 2-10% from Twitter generally, and the rest.....? From random word of mouth, game news sites, reddit, etc, I guess? He isn't very clear on that in the PMs, and he had some graphs, but the links are dead now, so I can't tell you for sure, now.

So yeah, spread your game around, I guess. Just make sure it's great, or word of mouth won't go anywhere, I think. I'll stop rambling in this thread, now. 😅
 
Yeah, I never think of promotional material as directly driving sales. It's more like it acclimatises people to your game, so that later on, if they see it on a store front, it pings a tiny part of their brain going "I've seen that before somewhere..." and makes them just that little bit more likely to click on the link and check it out properly. That's the "luck" part that I'm talking about.

If your game is going gang-busters and spreading by word of mouth like wildfire (Fall Guys, anyone?) then you obviously don't really need to worry about all this. But for the rest of us plebs, every little bit helps.
 

larry12A

Member
pixeltroid, social media networks, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook - can always help to spread a word about you and your projects as well. And even if you have few dozens of followers, it's better than nothing. But I wouldn't rely on them like on something, that can raise you up to the top of dev world. If you're interested so much in getting some extra followers - you can buy real instagram followers on this website, which is maybe of the most reliable services I've been using lately.
 
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Neptune

Member
Imo it depends on your target audience. Do you want people following you because they like gamedev and they like your WIP sprites and funny bug GIFs....
Or do you want people taking notice because they're genuinely interested and ready to lay down money to play your creation?

The latter requires more work and skill, because at that point you're competing in your genre;
You would be showing off complete and polished content, which takes more of your time, but is more likely to attract serious players.


That being said, if you're in the WIP stage, it's still good to accumulate those #gamedev lovers, and maybe you will convert some to sales later?
As Frosty said, if you aren't letting it consume time from your project (like how me writing this post currently is) then it likely won't hurt you 👍
 
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Neptune

Member
Honestly the best thing you could probably do is just look around on Twitter or wherever, recognize the post patterns people present and how that is translating to their "success" in gaining followers or sales or whatever...
And ask yourself the tough questions.
 
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kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
I think social media is a great way to go. At the least it doesn't generally hurt unless you make mistakes, or overdo it. It may be true that twitter followers != sales...but no matter what percentage of those followers turn into sales, the more followers, the more sales(unless it is literally 0%). It doesn't matter if you convert at 90% or 1%, more is more. There is also always the case I've heard of where an account gets little by little growth, and then suddenly that one person picks it up and the growth just expands exponentially. You never know if you are one more follower from that point(or if it is going to happen).

If you are indie, and you don't have an actual marketing budget, social media is likely gonna be the way to go. It has that possibility of working just like paid advertisement, but for the right price. And paid advertisement won't bring a guarantee of conversions either.
 

pixeltroid

Member
Honestly the best thing you could probably do is just look around on Twitter or wherever, recognize the post patterns people present and how that is translating to their "success" in gaining followers or sales or whatever...
And ask yourself the tough questions.
Yep. I'm still learning how to use social media. I am only using twitter to spread awareness about my game through GIFs, videos and screenshots. I don't use it to chit chat or post non-game dev related stuff.

I also managed to get some youtubers (small channels) to play my game and that has resulted in a small spike in downloads and visits to my game page and downloads. This caused the itch.io algorithm to bump my game to the top of it's category. Unfortunately, it only lasted for a few days. Now the game has dropped back to the bottom.

I also redesigned the game page to get itch to notice it and feature it on the front page. But no luck so far.
 

Yal

🐧 *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
Apparently I've been using social media for 5 years and officially have OVER NINE THOUSAND tweets. Wut.
(It's localized to swedish, so that's "3740 followers" for you anglosaxians out there)

1610127780230.png
(also surprise face reveal to everyone that's avoided my twitter/itchio for the last half-decade)

At the start, I used to follow a very strict "quantity over quality" scheme with a bunch of dirty tricks (like following tons of people and then unfollowing if they didn't follow back) to get my numbers up, but after a while I realized it only resulted in higher numbers and not higher sales or more engagement with people, so now I've cut down on it and try to have a more casual and less aggressive usage.

My usage more or less 100% falls into these categories:
  • Post GIFs of new features or funny bugs that happened (these tend to get the most attention numbers)
  • If too much procrastination got in the way of making features / recording them, post a poll. Whenever I have doubts about a design decision, I usually go for this to see what the general lay of the land is. (This is basically the "rainy day fund" for social media content)
  • Scroll down the timeline for a few minutes and repost cool things so I don't need to exclusively make all the cool stuff people stalk me for
  • While scrolling down the timeline, save any cool concept art or photographs I find for later perusal (I follow a bunch of concept artists and photo artists)
  • Interact with a handful of people I know from other places (the fact that they show up in my timeline probably means Teh Internet Algorithm knows more about me than I'd like, now when I think about it)
  • As soon as I reach the "let's complain about US politics" dreadwall, quickly log out before it starts affecting my psyche.
Talking about politics and sensitive issues reliably gives a surprising amount of response (from new people) but it's usually not the kind of attention you want.
 

Randly

Member
Marketing and getting the word out about your project is very important. So it's really great you take the fact of maintaining your social media as a hobby. As for me, the hardest thing is posting on a regular basis. I know I need to make sure my work gets in front of the audience, but sometimes it's too hard for me to make it.

I've even bought more followers from Twicsy to enlarge my audience and to get more motivation. It works for the moment and helps me to get myself to some schedule.
 
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