How to Build up a Facebook Page as a Board Game Dev

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Of all the social media sites in all the land, Facebook is the king. Last quarter, it had an average of 2.2 billion monthly active users. That is such a phenomenally high number that there is no comparison I can make that will drive it home. Facebook has connected the world in an unprecedented way, opening up a wealth of previously unimaginable opportunities to business owners.

It’s funny that I’ve just effusively praised Facebook. I’ve only started really paying attention to it in the last year, particularly when I started working on Highways & Byways. In this past year, I’ve been using Facebook’s advertising system to increase the visibility of blog posts and to drive people to the Highways & Byways Kickstarter mailer. A few hundred dollars in advertising money have gone a really long way toward increasing the visibility of my projects. We’ll get to that in more detail below 🙂

 

 

Much like my old staple How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev, I’ll be covering everything you need to know to get started on Facebook as a board game developer. There is quite a bit that goes into it, so I’ve broken this guide into five parts:

  1. What is Facebook Good For?
  2. Getting Started
  3. Getting Noticed
  4. Refining Your Approach
  5. Using Facebook for More than Just Posting

 

What is Facebook Good For?

 

Reasons to Use Facebook

Facebook is the biggest social media site in the world. In fact, at the moment I’m writing this article, it’s the third most popular website in the world, bested only by Google and YouTube. You can find the majority of people in North America on Facebook, making it the world’s de facto online water cooler. Basically, it’s the world’s biggest hangout spot.

Because Facebook has such a variety of people, this has opened up some incredible opportunities, which Facebook leadership has wisely taken advantage of. People on Facebook share lots of information about themselves – their age, location, interests, and so on. This is incredibly valuable information for marketers. That makes Facebook the best way I know of to target very, very, very specific niche audiences.

That leads neatly into Facebook’s main attraction for marketers: it has the best advertising system ever made. I know that’s a huge statement, but hear me out. Facebook reaches more people than any other entity in this world aside from Google. (Remember, YouTube – the #2 ranking site – is a part of Google.) People willingly share extraordinary and unprecedented amounts of information about themselves on Facebook voluntarily. For better or worse, it is a common behavior to compile a complete dossier of yourself online which is then accessible to marketers, which includes you as a burgeoning game developer.

 

The Big Reason not to Use Facebook

Facebook has one drawback and it’s a real doozy. The business model that Facebook uses is effective to a fault. They have practically eliminated the organic reach of Facebook pages. Facebook is basically pay-to-play if you’re not grandfathered in. It’s been that way for years, including after I started myself.

Facebook is worth paying for. From what I’ve seen, it gets a strong return on investment that Twitter and Snapchat can’t touch. It’s faster and more efficient than other methods I use such as Twitter direct message campaigns. The only problem is that making board games is already expensive, and the idea of paying a super-rich company to show your game to people is pretty odious.

New game devs: don’t write off Facebook because it’s expensive. Having a basic Facebook presence is really valuable on its own. On top of that, you can run ad campaigns for just a few dollars at a time. It doesn’t have to be inaccessible.

 

Insider look at the Facebook headquarters.

 

Getting Started

 

Setting Up Your Account & Making it Look Good

First things first, you will need a personal Facebook page in order to launch one for your board game or business persona. If you’ve got that, go to your Facebook home page, click the arrow in the top right, and click Create a Page. Click the Page type that best describes the Facebook page you’re creating, choose a category, and enter a page name.

 

 

Upload a profile photo, which will display as a circular 170×170 photo. Then upload a cover photo that is 851×315. When you’re done with that, it will take you to your fresh Facebook page. Click Settings. Go through every single item and update all the settings as you like, with special attention paid to: Edit Page > Tabs and Payment. The former will control the layout of your Facebook page. The latter will determine how you pay for advertisements.

Once you’re done with all that, go back to your Facebook page and follow all the “Page Tips” in the top center of your Facebook feed. Facebook is really good about walking you through all the steps you need to take to get set up.

 

Making Early Content

Once your page layout and settings are set up the way you like them, I recommend backdating two weeks of posts. Be sure to consider your Content Mix when you are backdating posts and scheduling future ones. As a review, here is a quote about Content Mix from How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev. Swap out “tweets” for “posts” and the same principle still applies.

 

The first is what I call Content Mix. This is comprised of three different forms of communication: sharing, talking, and self-promotion. Sharing involves retweeting others’ tweets when they speak to you, or alternatively, finding cool stuff online that’s worth bringing up in conversation. Talking is simply hanging out and passing time. Self-promotion is self-explanatory. However, relentless self-promotion will make you look dumb. Failure to self-promote at all will give you very few benefits because no one will know what you do. You have strike a balance.

I suggest taking a 5/3/2 approach. For every 10 tweets, 5 should be sharing others’ work, 3 should be conversational, and 2 should be self-promoting. Naturally, you’ll want to tweak this to what your audience responds to. As for what specifically to say and share, watch what other successful tweeters do. Copy the things they do that you like, but make sure you do so in your own words. As time passes, you will find your own voice.

Getting Noticed

 

Getting Page Likes Using Existing Resources

Getting noticed on Facebook works differently than getting noticed Twitter or Instagram. On both of those social media sites, you have a good system for organic reach. That means you can reach out to people and make connections without spending money on ads. Facebook, on the other hand, has almost entirely eliminated organic reach.

That said, getting your first few page likes doesn’t have to be too tricky. The best thing you can do to get your first few page likes is to reach out to current Facebook friends. If you have a lot of Facebook friends on your personal Facebook account and you send out invites to most or all of them, you’ll pick up a handful of page likes that way. You can also use Twitter or Instagram to ask people to like your page, if you’ve got those set up already. Last but not least, if you’ve spent time building up a mailing list, you can always ask people to like your Facebook page in your next mailer.

 

Smart Advertising

 

The best way to build up your Facebook page quickly, though, is through smart use of their advertising system. You can boost posts and perform some advertising functions from your Facebook page itself, but the best way to access their ad system is to click the top right arrow on your personal Facebook home page. Then click Manage Ads. Here is what my Ads Manger looks like.

 

When you get to a screen like what you see above, click the Campaigns tab and then the Create button. You’ll be given a bunch of options for “What’s your marketing objective?” – the main ones being Traffic and Engagement. Traffic is ideal for getting people to click on links, such as blog posts or landing pages. Engagement is ideal for getting page likes or post comments/likes.

Of the two options, Traffic is better since you can actually use that to drive people to your landing pages. However, if you’re trying to build your Facebook page up quickly, you might like using Engagement to build up a few dozen or a few hundred page likes. This can get expensive quickly, and to be honest, I’m not convinced there is an ROI there.

Using a Traffic campaign as an example, here is what it’s like to set up an ad…

Choose where you want to drive your Traffic: I would recommend using your website.

Create an audience: This is the most important part. You can choose your audience by location, age, and other demographics, interests, and behaviors. You want to choose this very carefully and picked the narrowest audience you can so your ads are very well targeted.

For this website, to promote posts, I use locations of the US, UK, and Australia – all wealthy countries which speak English. I use ages 25-45 and market to men and women. Most importantly, though I make sure people like at least ONE of the following: BoardGameGeek, Geek & Sundry, Tabletop games, Tabletop Gaming News, or board games ALONG WITH Game Development or Game Design. That narrows down my audience to about 120,000 people and makes sure every dollar I spend is well-spent.

 

 

Choose your placements: You can choose where your ads will show up. That means different places on Facebook, such as the Feed, Instant Articles, In-Stream Videos, Right Column, Suggested Videos, and Marketplace. On Instagram, that means Feed and Stories. There are also options for Audience Network and Messenger, too, but I’ve never used those. When in doubt: use Facebook Feeds only – I’ve had good results with that.

Choose your budget and schedule: Start with one day and $5-10 until you know what you’re doing. You can always extend the end date and add to the budget later.

 

Pitfalls

By far the biggest thing you can do wrong on Facebook is to throw money away on bad advertising campaigns. You need to continuously monitor every Facebook campaign you run. If your ads don’t perform well, cut off the budget and try something else. Don’t pay more than $0.50 per page click or page like. If you have to pay more than that (at least within the board game industry), either your ad is unappealing or you haven’t defined your audience well enough.

Facebook will also constantly push you to boost posts for visibility. Don’t boost posts unless you have a very good reason. Good reasons to boost posts include links to your website, asking people to sign up for your mailing list, or giveaway contests. Otherwise, steer clear – it’s not the best use of your money.

 

You Must Experiment

Facebook rewards experimentation. I recommend that beginners play with the advertising system with $5 or $10 at a time until they get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. The ideal advertisement tomorrow will not be the same as the ideal advertisement today. Facebook isn’t interested in you using their ad system to its fullest potential. To them, a dollar is a dollar. The responsibility to learn falls squarely on your shoulders.

 

Refining Your Approach

 

Automating Your Posts: Ongoing

You can’t automate relationship building. You can’t automate making genuine, heartfelt connections with others. You can, however, automate the posts which you broadcast to the whole world. I strongly suggest you use either Buffer or Facebook scheduler to prepare posts in advance. Every couple of weeks, you can come up with a bunch of posts, and pick the optimal time to post them. You don’t have to be tied to your phone.

You should still check Facebook on a regular basis. It’s still a good idea to converse with others. Automation will allow you to have some constant presence at all times, even when you’re at work, with your kids, or on vacation.

 

Refining Your Account: Ongoing

Automating posts will also free up time for you to start refining your posts. After a month or two of posting, you’ll be able to make good use of Facebook Insights – a robust data-gathering system that comes automatically with your Facebook page. Figure out what people retweet and like and post more of it. As you refine your approach, you’ll get followers more automatically and less manually.

 

 

Using Facebook for More than Just Posting

 

Groups

One very popular part of Facebook are Facebook groups. People join these groups and talk about their common interests. There are lots of groups for board games on Facebook and a lot of them can help you promote your business, if you’re careful and respectful. Groups have great engagement and they all have a unique culture.

You should be careful before you start your own, though. They can be tremendous for your business, but it’s tough to get one started on your own. On top of that, recent changes to Facebook’s notification algorithm may reduce the value of Facebook groups in the near future. Long story short, people will likely see fewer notifications from groups. Between us, I think this is a good thing because groups spam my personal Facebook notifications pretty hard.

 

Market Research

Facebook is also a really good way to keep on top of market trends. Though I rarely speak in them, I’m a fly on the wall in at least ten different Facebook groups. I pay attention to what people are saying in the groups. In addition to that, I’ve been known to do $5 and $10 ad experiments just to see what people are interested in.

 

Testing Ideas with the Ad System

Speaking of advertising research, if you’re looking to test the market for a new game and you haven’t committed to a theme or mechanics, here is an experiment you can run. Make advertisements for a few different game ideas you have. Set up landing pages for each one. Take out Facebook ads for each game idea directing to their corresponding landing pages. Put the same amount of money on each ad. See which one gets the most clicks. The idea that performs the best is one you should consider designing.

 

Making Connections

As with any social media site, it’s not just about pushing your business and selling things. You’ll also be meeting people and making friends. That can open tons of doors for you, so don’t just bury your head in advertisements and analytics. Meet some people!

 


 

Though intimidating and sometimes expensive, Facebook is an extremely valuable tool for a board game developer to use. If you take the time to work it into your marketing approach and commit to experimentation and improvement, you will definitely benefit from being on Facebook over time.

I know this is a lot of material to cover, so if you have any questions about setting up or managing a Facebook page, please ask below 🙂

The Last Dev Diary & What Comes Next

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Today marks the conclusion of Dev Diary: Lessons Learned through the Making of Highways & Byways. This is the last Dev Diary. Start to Finish: Publish and Sell Your First Board Game is still going to continue. I’ll be doing a post every Monday instead of every Monday and Friday.

 

 

Considering the insights I have gained with the unsuccessful conclusion of Highways & Byways, I will be creating a brief series on Failure Recovery which will be worked into Start to Finish. This is a really important part of getting started in the board game industry which I had not considered writing about until now. Failed product launches happen from time to time, especially with newcomers. Keep an eye out for the Failure Recovery series around the middle of May 2018.

You may be asking: why stop the Dev Diary now? There are two really compelling reasons:

  1. The Dev Diary series was created to detail to development process of Highways & Byways from start to finish. With Highways & Byways having concluded, so too must the series.
  2. This will also help me since I’ll regain a few hours each week for game development.

 

Some of you may be wondering what the conclusion of the Dev Diary and the failure of the Highways & Byways campaign means for me personally. What comes next?

First and foremost: I’m still going to make games and write about making games. I’ll be taking the lessons I’ve learned from Highways & Byways and making games more carefully next time. The big two lessons for me are “start by validating the market” and “don’t work alone.” That means I’m doing a lot of polling and question-asking to see what people are into. I’ve also started working with some people who I’ve grown close to over the last couple of years on new games.

In addition, there is a whole lot of clean up I need to do in order to make sure Pangea Games runs smoothly in the future. For one, I have cut back on unnecessary social media accounts, including the War Co. and Highways & Byways accounts. I’ve streamlined my social media to where only the blog and Pangea Games have social media accounts. On top of that, there are a number of small inefficiencies that I’m resolving.

Most importantly, since I’m no longer working alone, I’m going to start making formal budgets and plans. I’ve always relied on written documentation, even while working alone. However, when working with others, it’s extremely critical to capture timelines and to-do lists in a formal way.

 

Here we stand on the precipice of a brave new world. There is an enormous amount of opportunity ahead for Pangea Games and my future projects. Bringing the Dev Diary series to its conclusion is just one part of that. Thank you for reading this series and enjoy the continuation of Start to Finish 🙂

How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev – Revisited in 2018

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About a year ago, I wrote How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev. It is one of the best articles I’ve done on this site. It fits in beautifully with the Marketing & Promoting Your Game series of Start to Finish: Publish and Sell Your First Board Game.

It’s funny – I actually planned to write a whole new post from scratch with up-to-date information. I was going to use that old post as an outline and nothing more. Yet I stand by nearly everything I said in that and I don’t see much need to edit it. What I’ll do instead is post the link in really big text below. Then below the picture, I’ll post new things I’ve learned about Twitter in the last year.

 

Read this first:

How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev

 

Marketing is a slow dance. You have to very slowly build your reputation. Twitter is great because it lets new developers draw attention to themselves with fewer barriers than ever before. But it’s still a long, slow climb from Attention to Action. You have to have a great game, a great website, a good business case, and so on. You can’t tweet yourself to the Top 100 on Board Game Geek. Trust me, I tried.

 

Lessons Learned Since the Original Article

 

Read up on that old article? Great! Because I have a few responses to my old work that will be relevant you as a board game dev hoping to get big on Twitter today. Twitter is a dynamic, fluctuating environment that rewards experimentation. Here are some lessons I’ve learned since I posted the original article in May 2017.

 

Stricter Spam Rules 

Twitter has clamped down a lot more on spammy behavior since I got started in 2015. I think it might have something to do with all the bot traffic that the site’s suffered from over the last couple of years. Regardless of the cause, the implications for board game devs are pretty clear: you can’t get away with following hundreds of people every day.

There was a definite time when you could follow 400 or 500 people every day and get away with it. Your followers would often be untargeted and loaded with spam, but there was an argument to be made that it was still worth it because you could get a lot of quality followers because you were getting more followers in general. It’s true – going to @BoardGameGeek and following 400-500 people per day would get you a lot of board game fans.

Twitter won’t let you do that anymore. The threshold for spam-like behavior has been dramatically dropped, and they’ll suspend your account a lot more easily. If you’re doing something shady but not quite spammy, they’ll redirect you the Terms of Service page.

Thank goodness. Twitter has needed to clamp down on the bad behavior for a while and they’re actually taking clear steps now. Good for them! Just understand that if you had any intention of using dirty tactics to grow your following, they probably won’t work anymore and they’ll probably get you banned.

 

Lead Generation

I used to argue against following people you don’t know to grow your audience, instead of saying you should like/comment/retweet instead. I still think that’s the best form of engagement, but if you’re looking for something faster, I’ve found a method that works. It’s a method of lead generation that uses Twitter.

Go to a website such as ScoutZen, enter in an account with a similar audience to yours (for example, I’ve used @CardboardEdison), and export their followers (1,000 for free on the site I’m using). Then follow 30-50 people every day on that list, skipping over spam accounts and untargeted accounts. Like and comment on their tweets when it makes sense to.

The basic idea here is that you start with a list of people who are likely to like your tweets. Then you initiate contact in the easiest, quickest way possible – following. Like and comment on their tweets so you’re actually engaging with them, if only a little bit. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s not bombarding completely random people with unwanted messages, and – most importantly – it works like a charm. Seriously, I’ve gotten a 20% follow-back rate when doing this.

It’s not perfect, though. It’s extremely manual. At some point, you’ll have to unfollow people who don’t follow you back. Yet for people who want to grow their Twitter quickly, this is the method I recommend. Start with 10-20/day and work your way up to 50. You can do more if you’re brave.

 

Direct Messaging Campaigns

Automatic direct messages – auto DMs – are just about the most annoying thing on Twitter. Yet a hand-crafted direct message from a cool person doing things you like? That’s worth reading!

One quick way to get a lot of people to take action very quickly is to start a Twitter DM campaign. Let’s assume you’re using friendly lead generation methods and your audience is well-targeted. I’ve used Twitter DM campaigns on both Brandon the Game Dev and Highways & Byways. Here are the boilerplate messages I’ve used – I change their text up a little because I read people’s bios.

 

Brandon the Game Dev

Hey (Name)! I noticed you’re a board game dev, so I’d like to invite you to my board game dev Discord community. It’s a hang-out spot for about 1,100 game devs and gamers. Is this something you’d be interested in?

 

Highways & Byways

Hey (Name)! I noticed you’re a board gamer and that you’re interested in Highways & Byways. Would you like to receive an email notification when the Kickstarter goes up March 26?

 

If people respond – and they do about 15% of the time – I send them a link to my landing page with clear instructions. My overall conversion rate on DM campaigns is around 10%, which I consider to be really good. I basically built my 1,100 person game dev Discord server with Twitter DMs.

 


 

These are all my additions to my old work. If you have any questions or further observations, let me know in the comments below 🙂