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:
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.
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.
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?
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 🙂