How to Get Big on Twitter as a Board Game Dev

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I am thrilled that many of you enjoyed Setting Up Social Media as a Board Game Dev: A Primer Course. Marketing is a big concern for game developers, especially in the chaotic arena of social media. Sites like Twitter and Instagram provide some of the biggest and most accessible ways to attract an audience, even while they’re still mysterious and new.

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In fact, you probably found me through Twitter, where I’ve got a combined following of over 12,000 between the blogWar Co., and Highways & Byways accounts. You might know me through Instagram, where I have a combined following of 30,000 for War Co. and Highways & Byways. This is no accident, and I’ve spent a substantial amount of time researching the subject of online marketing. Of all the sites I’ve played with, though, Twitter is my favorite.

mascot-blue-cartoon-bird-website-animal-twitter

Any board game developer can gradually develop a large, engaged, authentic Twitter following with a little bit of ongoing effort. Twitter is an effective marketing tool that can increase the visibility of new board game developers, especially for Kickstarter. Twitter can also provide a wealth of information on several different aspects of the board game industry, with applications including idea testing, market research, making connections with influential individuals, and trend analysis.

This guide is going to be very detailed. It will be the longest article I’ve ever made. There’s lots of blog articles about building a Twitter following, but I think they’re largely half-baked. I want to see you build your account organically into the thousands. (Perhaps you’ll spare a retweet for a blogger you like…)

I’ve broken this up into six sections. Feel free to skip around, but whether you’re new to Twitter or not, I encourage you to read section 1. It’s always good to keep your endgame in mind.

  1. What is Twitter Good For?
  2. Getting Started
  3. Getting Noticed
  4. Refining Your Approach
  5. Using Twitter for More than Just Tweeting
  6. Key Takeaways for Game Devs

What is Twitter Good For?

Reasons to Use Twitter

Before getting into any time-consuming commitment, it’s always smart to ask yourself “why am I doing this?” Twitter can provide a great deal of visibility and it can be an excellent marketing tool for board game developers. The effect can be profound and a well-run Twitter account can bring in thousands of dollars, as long as you’ve got a good business model to make money once you get people’s attention. Getting people’s attention is only the beginning, though, since your behavior on Twitter has to make your audience care. We’ll get to that in the next section.

There are a lot of benefits to using Twitter that no one talks about. These benefits include the ability to test ideas, do market research, connect with leaders, and keep up with industry trends. Think long and hard about your goals before you start your Twitter. The more specific they are, the better. Your goals determine how you’ll be using Twitter. The more in line your behavior with your goals, the better.

Reasons not to Use Twitter

Building a Twitter following with a lot of real, engaged people is a slow process. You won’t get big quick. If you do get big, that doesn’t mean you’ll make a bunch of money either. There’s a handy model called AIDA. It’s well-recognized by both marketers and Glengarry Glen Ross aficionados.

AIDA Model

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. When you’re a marketer, the first thing you need to do is get people to know you exist – attention. Then you have to make people care about your game – interest. If they start to want your game, that’s a good sign – desire. Next, they get on your website or Amazon with the intention to buy – action.

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.

There’s another really compelling reason not to use Twitter: the community. I generally find Twitter to be a place full of beauty, humor, and rapier wit, but I’m also very particular about what I read there. The Twitter community can be exhausting. Know what you’re getting into. There are a lot of narcissists, a lot of people oversharing banal stories of their lives, and a lot of people browbeating others over politics (even if you voted for the same person). If this will make you miserable, you will probably get more enjoyment out of a different social media outlet.

Getting Started

Setting Up Your Account & Making it Look Good

So you’ve decided you want to take the plunge and get a Twitter? Awesome! There are six things you need to do be ready to do right after you get on the site:

  1. Register
  2. Pick a handle
  3. Pick a display name
  4. Write your bio
  5. Set a profile photo
  6. Set a header photo

I won’t get into the details of where to go and what to click. Twitter could very well change that in the near future and I want this guide to have staying power. So with that in mind, I advise you to stick by a few principles:

  • Unless you’re representing a full studio, go by your name. People connect way better with me as Brandon Rollins than they do with me as Pangea Games.
  • Put your face on your profile photo. In my experience are about 2-3x more likely to follow a face than a logo.
  • Keep your bio to the point. Don’t try to be too clever. Just explain who you are, and possibly incorporate some humor. Here are the bios I use:
    • BrandonGameDev bio: Board game development is a wild, meandering journey. We’re in this together. Made @WarMachinesCo, making @BywaysGame. I own and run Pangea Games.
    • WarMachinesCo bio: Creator of War Co., a card game funded on Kickstarter, which is on sale now. I pretend to be a scary corporation in my spare time. Other Twitter @BrandonGameDev
    • BywaysGame bio: Creating Highways & Byways, a board game about the road trip of a lifetime. Based on real places you can go! I’m @BrandonGameDev, creator of @WarMachinesCo.

In general, be as human as possible and make it clear that you’re a board game developer. A little bit of clarity and little bit of genuineness go a long way on this platform.

The First Two Weeks (Of Your Account or Your Strategy)

In your first two weeks, you don’t want to focus on followers. It’s too soon. You’ve got two main responsibilities.

Create a few Twitter lists and follow people you’re genuinely interested in. They don’t even have to be related to board games. Add each person you follow to a Twitter list. When you want to check Twitter, check these lists. This will help you keep your Twitter organized and enjoyable while you’re heavily promoting your account.

Twitter Lists
I love my Twitter lists.

With listening on lock, now you’ve got to figure out what you want to say! There are a lot of factors to consider if you want to represent yourself well on Twitter.

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.

One last thing: try to post at times when people are online. I’ve noticed a lot of my audience is online around 11 am to 1 pm US Eastern Time. Play it by ear, see what works for you and your audience.

Getting Noticed

Growing a Following – Different Tactics

Curating and creating great tweets go a long way toward making a viable marketing strategy on Twitter. Reading other people’s stuff will keep you in touch with the community and provide you with opportunities to retweet others. Your own tweets will provide a great way for people to find you and get to know you. There’s just one issue. People won’t reach out to you first on Twitter – you have to take the initiative.

Having great content is half the battle. You’ve also got to make conscious efforts to gain followers. There are a lot of ways to do this. Some of them are clean, some of them are dirty, and many are in between. I’ll cover all of them.

Clean Ways to Gain Followers

Let’s talk about some clean ways to gain followers first. The most obvious way is simply to post great tweets. Follow the advice above and iterate until you find the right wording for your audience. This approach is excellent at building your brand and it helps people get to know who you are and how you think. However, it’s a little weak on outreach. You can’t simply make great tweets and expect people to show up.

A more direct way to get people’s attention on Twitter is to start liking and replying to tweets that you see on your feed. Twitter is just about the only place in the world where it’s not rude to butt into a conversation that doesn’t involve you. In fact, that’s much of the magic of the platform and why it’s so great for building a robust network. Replying to tweets on Twitter is the most reliable way I’ve seen to get dedicated fans. However, this is time-consuming as hell and it requires you to be constantly “on” and conversational.

A lot of people know Twitter for its #hashtags. Simply appending that odd little # symbol makes the words following the symbol searchable on Twitter. It’s very easy to use hashtags, but it’s very hard to find hashtags that get real attention. If you use the right hashtag (such as a trending tag on the left side of the page), you might have a tweet blow up and get really big. If you use hashtags, try to work them into a sentence and not just stick them at the end of the tweet. And for the love of humanity, don’t use more than three in a tweet – that’s a surefire way to make folks cringe.

Trending tags

Lastly, you can use advertising to promote your Twitter. With advertising, you can practically guarantee a certain number of retweets, likes, website clicks, or views. Advertising is really hands-off, but also expensive. You also will have to target your ads exceptionally well to your audience, with particular attention being paid to optimizing them. If you’re going to be shelling out the hundreds of dollars it takes to run a good campaign, you want your words to be actionable and your images to be clickable. That means you should probably test your ads on a test audience or focus group before you put them out there.

Dirty Ways to Gain Followers

Twitter is not always a place of honor. I strongly discourage you from using either of these two tactics for growing your following. Think of me like your Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. I’m teaching you evil ways to game the system because you should know they exist.

There are a number of services which promise to grow your Twitter following fast through complete automation. That means these services take your Twitter credentials and indiscriminately follow people in massive numbers. Do not use automatic mass following. Though it will get you a lot of followers very fast for low effort, it’s spammy, your followers will be low quality, and you can get banned for the practice.

Likewise, you can also outright buy followers on websites such as Fiverr. Do not directly buy followers through any means other than Twitter advertising. Though you can get truly massive amounts of followers (even in the thousands) within days, most of the accounts will be fake or at least low quality. Again, this is spammy and it costs money.

Trenchcoat Guy
“You wanna buy followers, do ya?”

The Gray Areas

Obviously, not every action you can take on Twitter to gain followers falls within the strict dichotomy of “clean” or “dirty.” I know of, and admittedly have used in the past, many techniques that fall within a gray area. If you choose to use these tactics, do so wisely and within an understanding of the pitfalls.

The first gray area is more a method of retaining followers than gaining them. Many people follow everyone who follows them and unfollow everyone who unfollows them. This is not a bad tactic early on, but it’s a little gross. You wind up keeping your numbers up, but many of those folks will be spammers or people who will wind up unfollowing you two weeks later. Keeping your follower number high has significant benefits, but don’t expect followbacks to gain you an engaged audience. It just stops you from bleeding followers.

Indiscriminate following back is a light gray area in my opinion. This next one is a little darker: targeted manual mass following.

One way to get a lot followers is to follow a lot of people. You don’t want to follow people completely indiscriminately, because that will get you low quality followers. Instead, you can use Twitter’s suggestions to follow many people you think fall into your target audience. You can also look at the followers of other accounts that are similar to yours and start following their followers.

Targeted manual mass following gets a lot of followers, but there are a lot of drawbacks. While it is true that follower growth is quick and you can often make genuine friends in the process, it’s kind of spammy if you aren’t really careful about it. It’s annoying to Twitter users. You have to periodically unfollow a lot of people if they’re not following back. You’ll probably get blocked a lot. You might follow the same person multiple times. You might get some angry DMs every once in a while. It’s extremely time-consuming, too. You can even get banned or suspended if you go way overboard, such as following over 300 accounts per day everyday.

I don’t like targeted manual mass followings, but the truth is simple: it works and you’ll make friends. Even still, I don’t recommend it. It’s very common practice, though, and you should know it exists and make up your mind about whether or not you want to do it.

Refining Your Approach

Automating Your Tweets: Ongoing

You can’t automate relationship building. You can’t automate making genuine, heartfelt connections with others. You can, however, automate the tweets which you broadcast to the whole world. I strongly suggest you use Hootsuite to prepare tweets in advance. This free software lets you schedule tweets so that they automatically post when you’re not around. Basically, you can log onto Hootsuite every week or two, come up with a bunch of tweets, and pick the optimal time to post them. You don’t have to be tied to your phone.

You should still check Twitter 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 tweets will also free up time for you to start refining your tweets. After a month or two of tweeting, you’ll be able to make good use of Twitter Analytics – a robust data-gathering system that comes automatically with Twitter. 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.

Twitter Analytics provides a really handy way of finding out what people like.

You’ll also want to periodically go through your followings and unfollow people. A lot of people obsess over their “following-to-follower ratio.” It’s overrated in my opinion. In general, you want to follow fewer people than you follow. In the first six months, don’t sweat this. Just make sure it’s not a ridiculous gap like 2,500 following to 400 followers. If it’s 2,100 following to 1,800 followers, that’s fine. After six to nine months, you want to make sure you always have more people following you than you follow. Once you break about 5,000 followers, then it’s different. No matter how big you get, you don’t want to follow more than a few thousand people.

At first, just get rid of inactive accounts, spammers, and anyone who doesn’t speak your language. After a little while longer, you can start unfollowing people who don’t contribute much to your Twitter experience. There are a lot of automated services that can help you with unfollowing, such as ManageFlitter. No matter what you use, though, you’ll want to go slow. If you try to be Speed Racer about unfollowing, you’ll get banhammered by the big birds up top.

Using Twitter for More than Just Tweeting

There are all sorts of things you can use Twitter for that go beyond the typical purview of marketing. I won’t get too into detail about the tactics you would use, but I do want to get the wheels in your head spinning. I want you to see the potential and have some possible ideas for how to use Twitter which you can Google later on.

Testing Ideas

Twitter is a really great place to test ideas. With a sufficiently large and engaged following, you can ask questions such as “do you prefer a tracker card or d20 to keep track of points?” You can show two pieces of art and ask your followers what they like better. You can do sophisticated A/B testing on Twitter. If you take the initiative to form good questions and make it easy for people to answer them, you will open yourself up to an enormous wealth of data about the market-worthiness of your ideas.

scientist-with-erlenmeyer-flask
Marketing is a science – lots of testing and research.

Market Research

You can use Twitter for more than just testing your own ideas, though. You can read through the tweets of gamers get a feel for what they would like to see in a game, especially if you have them in a list. You can find your target audience, learn about their interests and desires, and observe the way they interact with each other. This is enormously powerful information if you wield it in the right way. Marketers of the bygone century would have done many bad deeds to have access to what we have access to. If you want to get really formal about your market research, you can even start tracking tweets in Excel and do heavier data analysis there.

Trend Analysis

What games are hot? What games are not? Market research can teach you about the small picture, but I’d say that trend analysis is more about the big picture. You can get a feel for how board gamers as a large group think and act. Though trends may not affect your prospective customers’ thoughts, feelings, and actions directly, you can bet that they change the climate in which they have those thoughts and feelings and make their actions. Twitter is known for being a great thermometer for trending topics. Learn how to read that thermometer.

Making Connections

This should go without saying, but so many people miss this critical point of Twitter. Twitter is not about gaining followers, it’s about making connections. You’ll meet all sorts of people online – game devs of different genres, gamers, creatives of all types, podcasters, bloggers, artists, and so on and so on. Talk to them! Make connections! Start up a conversation and perhaps even DM them. Making connections is so important that I spent weeks getting ready to launch a game dev Discord group. I compiled a big list of people who I was already talking to who might be interested in the group and started systematically inviting them.

Connections are where the money is made, too. Broadcasting to a wide audience won’t get a whole lot of attention. It’s like being a street preacher. Yet if you start talking to individuals on a one-on-one basis, you’re far more likely to get Kickstarter backers, if that’s the road you decide to take in your game development. The trick – if you want to call it a trick – is to genuinely converse and genuinely care.

Go make some connections!

Key Takeaways for Game Devs

  • Reasons to use Twitter: great visibility, great marketing, idea testing, market research, trend analysis, making connections.
  • Reasons not to use Twitter: you won’t get rich quick and the community has some annoying quirks.
  • When setting up your Twitter account: register, pick a handle and display name, write a good bio, set your profile and header photos.
  • In the first two weeks of tweeting: make Twitter lists and start posting good content (with the right mix of sharing, talking, and self-promotion).
  • Dirty ways to get followers: buying followers and automatic following. Avoid these.
  • Gray area ways to get followers: targeted mass manual follows and indiscriminate followbacks. There’s no hard or fast rule. Do what you think is right.
  • Clean ways to get followers: post great tweets, talk to a lot of people, use hashtags wisely, and advertise. Do as many of these as you like!
  • Automate your tweets through Hootsuite to save time.
  • Track and optimize: figure out what people like and retweet. Give them more of it.
  • Prune your following: use tools such as ManageFlitter to periodically unfollow accounts that you don’t want to follow any more.
  • Test ideas: With a sufficiently large and engaged following, you can ask potential customers questions and refine your game.
  • Do market research: You can read through the tweets of gamers get a feel for what they would like to see in a game, especially if you have them in a list.
  • Trend analysis: You can get a feel for how board gamers as a large group think and act.
  • Make connections: Twitter is not about gaining followers, it’s about making connections. You’ll meet all sorts of people online.





How to List Your First Game on Board Game Geek

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Board Game Geek is the online mecca for board gamers. There is no site like it. It’s extraordinarily popular and an immense repository of all the board game data you can imagine. It’s an agreed-upon gathering place for gamers to an extent that most other hobbies cannot relate to. I cannot overstate the importance of Board Game Geek to the board game community.

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Now, you don’t have to post there every day to succeed. In fact, there’s plenty of benefits to be reaped simply by lurking on the website. However, ignoring it is foolish. I think that many game developers make the mistake of ignoring Board Game Geek because of its intimidating design. Please don’t make that mistake.

Board Game Geek
Hey, at least it’s not a generic WordPress theme!

I could go into the nuances of Board Game Geek as a social system. I could also go into detail about how to best use the data available on the site. I’m not going to do that. That could be an entirely different article…which I may very well make one day soon!

In this guide, I’ll be showing game developers how to get board games listed on Board Game Geek. As I write this article, I’m going to assume this is your first board game, that neither your team members nor your publishing company are entered into the database, and that you have a Board Game Geek account. (If you don’t have an account, sign up here.)

Before you get your game listed on Board Game Geek, it’s helpful to understand their data model. You can enter Board Games, People, and Publishers. Board Games reference People and Publishers. People include artists, designers, and other staff involved in making a Board Game. Publishers are the companies that publish Board Games. A good Board Game needs People and Publishers, as well as a lot of other information.

Here’s where it gets weird.

You need to make People and Publishers first…but you can’t have People and Publishers without games. You have to submit the People and Publishers entries first. Then you have to reference the People and Publishers in the Board Game entry. Then you submit the Board Game entry. Lastly, you go back and edit the yet-to-be approved People and Publishers entries to reference the new Board Game entry.

Clear as mud? Great! Let’s continue!

Another important consideration is when you submit your Board Game entry. You need to wait until your game is very close to complete and preferably publicly reviewed. However, if you’re going to be doing a Kickstarter campaign, you need to make sure you make a Board Game entry at least a week or two before the Kickstarter.

Alright, let’s get started…

Step 1: Submit Entries for All Designers and Artists

Navigation: Misc > Add to Database > Person

Create Person on Board Game Geek

For each designer and artist involved in the creation of your game, make a Person entry. The most important fields to fill out are Name and Description. The credits sections can be filled out after you’ve got a Board Game entry pending.

You don’t have to fill out the Note to Admin field, but you may choose to mention that you are making a Board Game entry and linking it in the credits shortly after submitting this entry. You may also choose to type nothing but a smiley face. It’s up to you.

Step 2: Submit an Entry for the Publisher

Navigation: Misc > Add to Database > Publisher

Create Board Game Publisher on Board Game Geek

If your publisher doesn’t already exist in the Board Game Geek database, create a Publisher entry. This would apply to your company, if you have created your own company with intention to self-publish. That’s what I did by publishing War Co. through Pangea Games, which I own.

The most important fields to fill out are Primary Name and Description. The credits sections can be filled out after you’ve got a Board Game entry pending. Again, the Note to Admin field doesn’t have to be filled in.

Step 3: Submit an Entry for the Board Game

Navigation: Misc > Add to Database > Board Game

Create a Board Game Entry on Board Game Geek

Here is the real beast that you have to slay to get your game listed. The fields you need to fill out include are spelled out below. The rest is optional, but you should include it if you can.

The fields you should definitely fill out include:

  • Primary Name: Use the name of your game as you’d like it to appear on the Board Game Geek listing.
  • Description: A couple of paragraphs to describe your game. Use other listings as reference material when writing your description.
  • Year Published
  • Minimum Players
  • Maximum Players
  • Minimum Age
  • Playing Time
  • Category: The specific type of game, chosen from a list. No free text.
  • Mechanic: Mechanics involved in playing the game, chosen from a list. No free text.
  • Designer(s): Reference the pending Person entry or entries of your designer(s).
  • Artist(s): Reference the pending Person entry or entries of your artist(s).
  • Version Nickname: Anything you want it to be.
  • Version Publisher: Reference your pending Publisher entry.
  • Version Artist(s): Reference the pending Person entry or entries of your artist(s).
  • Year Published
  • Product Code (if you have bar codes – if you don’t, please see a reputable bar code reseller such as Buy A Bar Code)
  • Dimensions: The size of your game.
  • Weight
  • Languages: Chosen from a list.
  • Release Date: Pick an anticipated release date if your game is not out yet. You can edit this later if you have to.

Step 4: Edit the Person and Publisher Entries to Reference the Board Game

Navigation: Click here to find your pending Person entries. Click here to find your pending Publisher entries.

Phew. That’s a lot of data. Now all you have to do is go back to each Person and Publisher entry to reference your pending Board Game entry.

For each designer, edit their Person entry by clicking [Add Board Game Designer Credits] and clicking on your pending Board Game entry.

For each artist, edit their Person entry by clicking [Add Board Game Artist Credits] and clicking on your pending Board Game entry.

For your publisher, edit the Publisher entry by clicking [Add Board Game Credits] and clicking on your pending Board Game entry.


There you have it! It’s a lot of information to absorb, but following these steps is a surefire way to have your game listed on Board Game Geek in no time. Keep an eye out for emails from the Board Game Geek admins once you submit your entries. They may require some modest changes.

If you do this and you find that the process works a little differently for you, let me know what you find and I’ll revise this guide. I want to keep it up to date!

Please share your experiences in the comments.





Setting Up Social Media as a Board Game Dev: A Primer Course

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You probably found me through Twitter. I have data that says so. My first game, War Co.,  succeeded because of social media. As I write this, I have over 10,000 followers between the War Co. and blog Twitter accounts and over 25,000 followers on Instagram.

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I didn’t go to any cons. I didn’t go to any stores. I didn’t have a Board Game Geek account until last year. In fact, I knew very little about modern board games until last year. The passion I felt in my heart led me to design War Co., which introduced me to this thriving, wonderful board game community that I would have otherwise never known about.

I put the cart before the horse in my game development journey, but I got it straightened out because of social media.

Social media didn’t just pay for my dreams. It also taught me everything I needed to know. It put me in touch with incredible people, brought articles to my attention, and told me which games were good to buy.

I know how powerful social media is and I know how to use it. In fact, I’m even a published researcher on the subject of viral marketing. That’s why I’m writing this guide. I’m going to tell you how to use social media effectively for your board game project.

Setting up Social Media: Before You Speak Your First Word

If you sign up for Twitter or Instagram or some other social media site to promote your game, you probably want to get a ton of followers. Getting a ton of followers is hard, time-consuming work – there’s no way around this. However, you can make your life much easier if you start out looking professional. Professionalism isn’t about the size of your team or your number of followers. It’s about clarity of purpose, attention to detail, and consistency.

Don’t throw things together and put them online. That’s asking for trouble.

Step 1: Choose your message

You probably have a rough idea of what you want to say. You need to have a good idea of who you are, what you are trying to say, and what you want people to do. It’s amazing how many people fail at this. Open up Twitter and look at random people’s bios. They rarely tell you much about the person.

People know my name is Brandon Rollins. I don’t hide behind the brand name of War Co. People know I’m a game developer, people know I like sci-fi, and people know I want them to buy my game (wink, wink). Clarity is vital.

Step 2: Choose your audience

I couldn’t sell War Co. in a nursing home. No one would care. A kindergarten class won’t listen to your advice on 401(k) investing allocations. A big-city liberal Democrat would have a hard time engaging in political discourse in the Appalachian region of Tennessee.

“You see, kids, that’s why you always have to check the stock’s P/E ratio before you buy it on a short sell!”

Point is: your message needs to resonate with your audience. Choose your audience wisely. If you can’t choose your audience, change your message until it works for them.

Step 3: Choose your platforms and learn them

There’s dozens of social media sites out there, but here’s the big ones: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Reddit, Pintrest. The list goes on and on. Figure out where your audience hangs out. For board game devs, you’ll find people on all of these, but some communities are better than others. Do your homework. This is always changing.

Don’t just pick a platform and get started, though! Observe how people communicate. Read, watch, and listen. Take note of what the most influential people do. Learn what all the settings and buttons and switches do. Figure out the mindset of your audience on each particular platform and customize your message. You don’t want to come across as tone-deaf – that’s where a lot of big companies fail. People don’t often want to be sold to.

Once you know how a platform works, get set up. Use great photos and make sure your page looks professional.

Is this thing on? – What to Say After Setting Up

Step 4: Build a backlog

The first thing you should do once you are set up on social media is post regularly for a couple of weeks. Don’t worry about anything else. Just use the platform for a couple of weeks to build up a backlog of material that people will see when they find you.

Step 5: Start talking to others

Once you’ve got a couple of weeks behind you, it’s time to start engaging people directly. This comes in a lot of different forms. You can follow people who you think would be interested in you. You can comment on other people’s material. You can make prudent use of hashtags on applicable platforms. The goal here is to become visible.

….Just don’t be a weirdo who goes on other people’s pages and says “check out my page!” That’s dumb. A lot of well-meaning people totally blow it by doing that.

This takes time. This is the elbow grease you need to succeed. Keep at it. Your first 1,000 followers are the hardest to get. Then you start gaining people organically (read: without gritty, hands-on work). I find that once you reach 10,000 people on most platforms, people starting coming to you. Even when you reach 10,000, you will still need to engage people directly. Plus you will have added difficulties on top of that. I’ll get to that in the next section.

Have real conversations with people every single day when you’re starting out.

Iterate. Change your approach. Find the right way to talk to people. You won’t get it right in the first month or even the first year. I’m still learning, changing, and growing every day and I’ve got nearly 40,000 people between all my channels. (I’ll give you a little hint, though. People love images.)

Going Viral – Advanced Social Media Techniques

After a couple of months, you’ll probably feel like you’ve got your feet under you. Now it’s time to move on to more advanced tactics.

Step 6: Schedule, Automate, and Outsource

You’ve probably noticed by now that staying on top of social media is kind of a pain in the ass. You don’t have to be online all the time. You can actually come up with posts in batches and schedule them throughout the week with software like Hootsuite and Iconosquare. Even if you have to pay for some of this software, it’s often worth the money.

Some people even go so far as to automate following, unfollowing, liking, and even commenting. Be careful with stuff like that. Read the Terms of Service of your platforms before you do anything like that. I personally do not automate my accounts with bots. Many people do. It’s your call. Be considerate and ethical.

Alternatively, all the things you might choose to automate, you can simply outsource to employees or freelancers through sites like Fiverr. I don’t do this either, but I’ve thought about it. Point is, if you feel yourself buried under grit, that’s a sign that you need to give the dull stuff to someone else and focus on what you do best.

Step 7: Gather Data

Most platforms have robust tools that gather data on your posts and people’s reactions to them. Facebook has Insights and Twitter has Analytics. Instagram recently started gathering data as well (but it’s frankly annoying to parse on a mobile device, which is how you have to access the network for the most part). Oftentimes, you can export and save this data to look at in Excel, where you can do heavy analysis.

Step 8: Tweak Your Message

With or without spreadsheets, though, you can benefit a ton by looking at what people like. Twitter Analytics let me know which of my “War Machines Company” jokes were getting liked and retweeted and which ones were falling flat. Iconosquare’s data for Instagram let me know what people like to see on Instagram (mostly art with a clear object in focus with a lot of intricate detail).

With the data I gathered, I started changing up my style. My social media channels had been stagnant for a little while, but reacting to data about my social media dramatically improved engagement – likes, retweets, etc.

Post more of what people want to see, but stay true to your overall message. Continue to iterate your approach, just like you would a game when you’re developing it.

This is a high-level walk-through. Every site you use is different and specific advice is very time-sensitive. I haven’t even covered paid advertising!

If you have specific questions or comments about your social media plans, I’d love to respond in the comments.