Updated: May 1
NOTE: This article focuses on being an unknown Indie Publisher and navigating online communities. If you already have a good to large following, some of this might not be applicable! So, you made a game or you're launching a Kickstarter, and you want to share it in game communities on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Discord. Awesome! I want to help you make the best posts possible that draw attention to your game. I want to start with an important lesson to keep in mind as you first enter communities to market your product: No one trusts or is interested in a salesperson they've never bought from previously or have a relationship with.
I'm sure we can dive into the nuance of that statement and find some cases where that is demonstrably false. But let's pretend those don't exist for the purpose of this article!
At the time of writing this, I currently am marketing a game I've put up on Kickstarter. I've shared on multiple Discord channels, Facebook groups, and Twitter threads and they may grab anywhere between 0 - 25 interactions (a like, comment, etc) depending on location.
I posted a photo of my dog Yeti (shown below) in a dog group and it's currently around 1400 likes and driving nonstop engagement and commentary.
So what's the difference?
There's a bunch of differences! But let's focus on the identity of the person posting and the relationship with the post. In the former instance I am sharing a product I made. This contextualizes me as a salesperson, which is observed as a unique entity the viewer immediately feels caution toward. With the dog photo, I'm observed as a relatable member of the community who has a dog.
Also my dog is amazing.
As an indie/unknown designer or publisher, how do you share your content to potential consumers directly in online spaces?
Read and know the rules of the group you're posting in. Your content isn't going to make much of an impact if it's deleted! Knowing and respecting the rules shows you respect the community you're involved in, and is generally an awesome thing to do!
If you have friends or acquaintances willing, have them post about it—especially if they're active in the community they're posting in! Having someone else say "Hey, saw this cool game (on Kickstarter). Anyone else backing this?" will drive more views and discussion to and about your content than anything you could post. As humans we're social creatures, and we look to peers for guidance on purchases and actions. The salesperson barrier doesn't exist in the above example because someone else is saying the product passed their litmus test and is cool. That's much better than you saying it's cool, because in this example it's a third party verifying it as an acceptable/good purchase as opposed to the creator! It also can lead to FOMO (fear of missing out). This is especially the case if multiple people are discussing your product in the same community!
If you're going to post yourself, be an active member in the community before you market in it (and after too!). This is tough. There's a billion communities out there. But even if you're checking in now and then, that's a heck of a lot better than dropping in and dropping your sweet blurb about the cool thing you made, then vanishing. Folks, again, want to support and are guided by their peers. If you're observed as a part of the community, folks will want to support you and I'm willing to bet you'll wanna support them too!
Create urgency by utilizing FOMO. This can be done through offering temporary sales prices for a limited time, having a select number of people that can access a certain part of your product, or other structures and phrasing that makes it clear whatever you're offering, it won't be forever!
Use the word "you" or "your" whenever possible. Hook words are powerful, and "you" is a very powerful hook word. It's direct, attention grabbing, and pulls the reader in. Comments like "your game" suggest possession and ownership, which can lead the viewer toward wanting to fulfill those sensations!
In your commentary, guide the choices people can and want to make. In sales, you never want to create an "out". The classic example of this is car sales. A car salesperson will never ask "Do you want a car today?" because the consumer could say "No." Instead they'll ask "Do you want the blue car or red car?" which suggests the consumer is getting a product, it's just a matter of which one. The consumer can still say no and walk away, but they're much more likely to think about their preference! A good way to translate this into board game space is to ask questions (images are also useful here) like:
"Which of these game boxes would you rather see on your shelf?" (establishes ownership)
"How would you resolve this turn?" (establishes interacting with product)
"Which friends would you get together to beat this game?" (potential for tagging others)
Bring your best art into the spotlight. Someone in my middle school art book wrote "A picture is worth a thousand words." I have no idea what the art to word currency exchange rate is these days, but that's basically true on some level. Persuasive art does a lot of the work for you. If it piques interest without telling the full story, that's even better because the art you share should give just enough to lead the viewer to clicking your link or searching for your product.
Keep Posting! But give more than you take when possible. Don't spam, but make a point to engage or showcase your product when possible. Finding clever ways to work it into dialogue is totally okay! Just make sure you invest time, respect, and kindness to other folks in the group or community! That's key with any kind of content sharing.
There's so many different strategies and these are just a few to keep in mind and consider. I hope this helps you, especially when you're in the midnight hour of your Kickstarter, hurriedly joining groups on Facebook to find prospective backers! But try not to do that and get involved before you start sharing content!