A step-by-step guide to successfully marketing your indie game

As an indie game developer myself, I know how impossible it sometimes feels to get people to notice my project. You probably share this sentiment. It often feels like you’re shouting into a void where there are a sea of others shouting too. You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating an amazing piece of art that you’re proud of, but now the real challenge begins. The daunting and continual task of getting eyes on it – finding funding for further development, and attracting fans who believe in what you’re doing!

Having a plan is the only way you can burst through the noise, connecting with your target audience and building a die-hard fanbase. So, today, we’re going to dive into some strategies to help you do just that. Give your game the best chance of standing out and build a solid online presence with these ten habits. You can thank me later!

Find your tribe, post consistently

Understanding your target audience is the first step in creating a successful social media strategy. Take the time to research and create detailed audience profiles. Consider factors such as age, interests, and social media habits. The more specific you can be, the better you can tailor your content to resonate with them.

Leverage insights and social media analytics to gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s demographics, interests, and online behavior. Utilize this data to fine-tune your content strategy and make sure it aligns with your audience’s preferences. If you post something that gets more views or likes than something else, you should post more of it.

Most importantly, what games are similar to yours that your target audience also like, follow, and engage with regularly? Make a list of these, study their posting habits, tactics, and do so regularly. Consider platforms like Twitter, or ‘X’ for quick, daily updates, Instagram for visual content, or Facebook for community engagement.

While I advocate for you choosing just two or three social networks or places to post so that you can be committed and consistent, it’s still important to experiment with emerging platforms that might not be as saturated. This could offer new opportunities for your game to stand out and reach a different types of people. Adapting your content to these platforms can also help keep your social media strategy fresh and innovative, instead of just re-posting them in the same format! More than anything, know that each platform rewards those who adapt their content!

Create a Killer Content Strategy

Your content strategy should be tailored to your social media goals, be it raising awareness, generating excitement, or driving sales. Of course, this will change at different stages of your development or release pipeline, so be willing to adapt. Define your goals and create a plan that encompasses things like trailers, screenshots, GIFs, development updates, and behind-the-scenes looks.

One thing you could do right now is open a Google Doc, type out all of your ideas, and revisit them weekly for things to post. Write out different items, characters, campaign taglines, and other ideas as they relate to your game or game universe, and lean into each microscopic aspect as a point of interest to explore with your followers. Some will hit more than others, but nothing should be too small to care for when it comes to posting.

Additionally, consider planning themed content around special events or holidays relevant to your target audience. This can create anticipation and excitement among your followers. Themed content can also provide opportunities for collaborations with other creators, brands, or influencers who share similar interests.

As you create your game, be vigilant to take video recordings of you working (you can cut these down, don’t worry!), GIFs, which you can create afterward based on video clips, even using websites, and perhaps even text-based devlogs of your journey.

Even if you don’t use it all to post online and generate buzz, you can look back at this as a journal of sorts to see how far you’ve come. Each day I’m done working, for example, I take a screenshot or a short video of my progress and toss it into Google Photos or Drive!

More than anything, consistency is key, so establish a posting schedule that you can maintain. Get a free Hootsuite, Buffer, or Crowdfire account, or consider paying for a subscription to add more social accounts, get a calendar for your posting schedule and more.

Alternatively, you can just add your schedule for social media to your Google Calendar, attach any image and text you wish to use when the time comes to that event and take it from there. Do keep in mind that the benefit of these other services, though, is that they auto post on your behalf, which makes it much easier to stay consistent.

Engage with Your Community

Engaging with your community is obviously essential for building a strong social media presence. Responding to comments, answering questions, and participating in conversations fosters a sense of community around your game. Being responsive and active in discussions shows your audience that you care about their opinions. If you’re not replying to comments, it may give the impression you don’t care, so why should they?

Consider hosting Q&A sessions, live streams, or dev diaries to give your followers a chance to interact directly with you and or your team. This not only helps build trust and credibility but can also drive organic traffic and engagement.

Don’t forget to ask for feedback and input too. This can help improve your game and shows that you value their opinions. Including their ideas can increase their emotional investment in your game, which can ultimately drive more sales and positive word-of-mouth. However, be wary of including all suggestions, as they may not fit with your vision. Don’t feel pressured to do so, and just allow this process to be organic.

Collaborate with Influencers

Influencer collaborations can significantly boost your game’s reach. Identify influencers whose audience aligns with your target demographic. Approach them with a well-thought-out pitch that emphasizes the mutual benefits of the collaboration. Know a few streamers on Twitch or YouTube? Are there other devs who are in the same sphere of expertise or style as you and have a similar audience?

You can offer these people early access to your game, exclusive content, or host joint giveaways to encourage their followers to check out your game. Building strong relationships with influencers takes time though, so be respectful, show genuine interest in their content too, and be transparent about your expectations.

Lastly, consider tapping into niche influencers who might not have a massive following but have a dedicated audience that aligns closely with your target demographic. These influencers can often provide more authentic engagement and drive higher conversion rates. It’s not always about the heavy hitters, and it may be much easier to get exposure this way!

Social Media Marketing and Paid Ads

Paid social media advertising, such as PPC (pay-per-click) ads, can help you reach a more targeted audience and drive traffic to your website or landing page. Before launching a campaign, set a clear budget, and define your target audience and goals. Use targeting options to ensure your ads reach the right people, and A/B test different ad creatives and copy to optimize performance.

Monitor your campaigns regularly and adjust your budget, targeting, or creatives based on performance. Remember that even a small budget can be effective if your ads are well-targeted and your content is engaging.

Moreover, consider retargeting campaigns that target users who have previously interacted with your content or website. These campaigns can help you re-engage potential players who have already shown interest in your game and can lead to higher conversion rates. We’ll have a full article in the future on which platforms you should target for this, and what kind of results you can expect to see!

Use Consistent Branding

A cohesive brand identity helps establish recognition and trust with your audience. Use the same logo, colors, fonts, and overall visual style across all your social media profiles. This consistency makes your game immediately recognizable and makes you look professional, even if you’re not.

This type of consistency also extends to your messaging and tone of voice. Ensure that your content reflects your brand’s personality and values. Doing so will create a strong and memorable impression on anyone that checks out your game.

I know not every indie dev is really into building a press kit, but I can’t tell you how often as a journalist I’ve tried hunting down good quality pictures, gameplay and information on indie games only to not find it. I do recommend having either a press kit, a Google Drive where promotional materials can be stored, or better yet, a website for your game! Wrenched, by Cherry Nugget Games does a tremendous job at this!

Be Patient, but keep going!

Building a strong social media presence and getting people to notice your game is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to see results and even then, the results may not look exactly like you expect. Be patient and consistent in your efforts. Continuously post high-quality content, engage with your community, and collaborate with influencers from all platforms of your choice.

Perhaps most importantly, remember that social media success is not solely measured by the number of followers you have. Focus on building authentic relationships with your audience, fostering a sense of community, and providing value through your content. Over time, your efforts will pay off, and you’ll see an increase in engagement, brand recognition, and ultimately, game sales. Don’t start when your game is done – start now. By the time your Steam page goes live, you want to have a trove of people checking in on your content each week and perhaps every day, and being invisible is not how you sell things!

Remember, the key is to stay consistent, authentic, and open to experimentation. Embrace the power of social media and these other marketing tactics to create meaningful connections with others. Game development isn’t just about selling units, it’s about exploring life and meaning with other humans, having fun, and sharing interests, and that’s why we do what we do.

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