On the last day of EGLX 2019, attendees were invited to join a panel called Social Media Marketing 101. Hosted by Stephanie Herdman, social media and community coordinator at Evolve PR, she explained the different ways that various social media platforms can be utilized in video game marketing.
With a particular focus on hopeful or up-and-coming game developers and streamers, Herdman laid out the different demographics that typically coincide with each platform, along with how to effectively communicate on each one.
Before delving into each platform’s unique components, she explained that, first and foremost, developers must consider their audience.
“If you have no idea who your audience is, you need to go do some research. Look at similar products or people — who are you and what are you selling? Look at who’s enjoying this stuff. Who is enjoying your game? This is the very first thing you should be thinking about.”
Although some social media channels are better than others for reaching certain audiences, each platform comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Pros: Inexpensive advertising, access to global/developing markets
Cons: Minimal organic reach, does not process GIFs well
While Facebook’s age demographic falls in the 25 to 34 year old category, Herdman also made note of the platform’s appeal to older users. “If you’re making a game that’s, like, ‘Hey, work your brain and your memory skills!’ and it’s a mobile app that would do well in the adult market or the older generations, you might want to look at Facebook. But if you’re making some cool, hip thing that’s for kids, [it’s] maybe not the platform.”
Herdman noted that Facebook is “by far” one of the cheapest platforms to advertise on, which can be incredibly helpful for those with limited budgets. She added that the network does really well in developing markets, which can allow further, more global reach for content.
However, Facebook can also be problematic through its limited organic reach. According to Herdman, unless you put money behind your posts, its reach will be 1 to 5 percent (read as: out of 100 followers, only 1 to 5 will see an unpaid post). Additionally, while videos do well on Facebook, certain post tools like GIFs get poorly compressed and aren’t aesthetically pleasing.
Pros: Large gaming community presence; much higher organic reach than Facebook
Cons: Smaller overall audience than other platforms; competition for attention amongst users
Herdman stated that Twitter’s user base “skews urban, educated and higher-income”, information she attributed to Hootsuite. When it comes to networking in the gaming community, Herdman highlighted Twitter as “the gaming standard” of social platforms.
“Whenever I’ve gone to events, pretty much everyone asks me for my Twitter, not my LinkedIn, not for my Facebook page; pretty much everyone in gaming uses Twitter. So use it, have a personal account at the very least.”
Although Twitter has a strong presence in gaming, she pointed out that the platform has a smaller user base overall when compared to networks like Facebook and Instagram. Herdman also noted that there can be a lot of users vying and competing for attention on Twitter, which can make standing out tricky.
Pros: Easy engagement
Cons: “Questionable” engagement; need for high quality content
While Instagram is one of the biggest platforms on the scene right now, with a demographic of predominantly young females, Herdman explained that it’s currently considered “up-and-coming” in the gaming scene. However, engagement on the social image sharing service as a whole has also proven beneficial for the video game community.
“Across every other platform, if you look at Nintendo, PlayStation, Sega, if you look at the likes and comments, Instagram by far has the highest amount out of any platform that’s out there.”
On the negative side, Herdman explained that a good portion of Instagram’s engagement can be “questionable”, meaning comments are potentially made by bots or those seeking reciprocal likes/follows instead of those organically interested in the posts.
Additionally, Instagram is very aesthetic-heavy, meaning more work needs to be put into posts (versus Twitter, for example, which Herdman says tends to be more casual).
Pros: A lot of passionate gamers; great community engagement
Cons: A lot of passionate gamers
A massive forum hub, Reddit houses several “subreddits” where people can post anything related to its indicated topic, which other users can “upvote” and “downvote” based on relevance. With a demographic heavily made up of North American males, Herdman explained that one of the biggest pros and cons of Reddit is that it houses a lot of passionate gamers.
“They’re opinionated, they don’t like promotional content, so if you’re going to be using Reddit for promotion, make sure that you’re using the platform before you just jump right in there.”
She emphasized the importance of getting to know and engaging with the various communities (called subreddits) within the platform before flagrantly promoting yourself. In terms of content that thrives on Reddit, Herdman noted AMAs (Ask Me Anything) as a popular type of post, especially if you’re able to partner with larger communities like /r/gaming.
Pros: Gamer audience; much more interconnected community
Cons: Heavy attention required; more technical
The Discord chatting platform has thrived in recent years as a popular social outlet in the gaming community, which Herdman says can be utilized in a more intimate way than other channels.
She highlighted the way that Discord allows its community to be more “interconnected” as everyone from the fans to the game’s developers can intermingle harmoniously. This contrasts with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, which tend to be more of a discussion with whoever’s running the account.
On the negative side, however, Herdman highlighted the amount of work that is needed to maintain a Discord channel, likening the platform to a toddler.
“It’s very very labor-intensive. If you have a Discord, people are going to be asking you to be there all the time; you have to moderate, because all it takes is one person to say something awful or a troll to come in and post 20 different awful GIFs, and all of a sudden you have to run and put out fires.”
Pros: Great for young demographic
Cons: Highest effort for assets
While the platform’s general demographic is the 18 to 34 year old age range, Herdman highlighted YouTube as a great platform for younger audiences, especially if your game or content appeals to that crowd. She said gameplay content and game talks are great to put on YouTube if the younger demographic is what you’re looking to appeal to.
However, YouTube is a fickle beast for a number of reasons. The platform isn’t as simple as putting out a post and calling it a day; much of the content consists of cut and edited videos, which takes time to put together. Furthermore, there are hurdles to watch for like copyright issues and figuring out how monetization works, which Herdman referred to as “a big mess.”
Planning your social marketing strategy
Herdman concluded her presentation with a few key takeaways on what up-and-comers in the gaming space should keep in mind. She said devising an attack plan is essential for video game marketing, which can consist of picking some platforms and familiarizing oneself with them. Brainstorming content ideas, making a plan and starting ASAP are key to getting a social media marketing strategy off the ground.
Lastly, being flexible and personable are two necessary elements to success, while also being patient. It’s important to understand that building a community takes time, and that social media is not the “do-all end-all” for marketing.