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8 Nov 2013

Using Twitter to Gain a Fanbase

I am always on the lookout for new indie developers to potentially interview for Game Academy Radio, usually via Reddit and Twitter. Fairly often, when I find an indie dev on Twitter, I’m pretty surprised that they do not have a lot of followers. Sure, they may simply be starting out and haven’t had a chance to put a lot of time into gaining Twitter followers, or perhaps they have found other methods for success, meaning constantly tweeting and gaining new followers isn’t something they are terribly worried about at the moment. Yet do not kid yourself: Twitter is very important to generating buzz about your game, ensuring other people learn about your game, and generally conversing with your fans about what they want to see in your game, ideas, and the like.

In the past, I have talked about generating buzz for your indie game via social media, and while I touched on the fact that you need to use social media platforms such as Twitter, I have never really went in-depth into discussing how to gain new followers via Twitter. It’s important, you need to do it, and yes, it could mean the difference between success today and success tomorrow. Let’s look at a few tips for gaining new followers, thus allowing you to share new information regarding your upcoming games, communicate with fans, and more.


Take part in social events

There are multiple social events that occur every week, the biggest being ‘Follow Friday.’ Every Friday, Twitter users place the hashtag ‘#FF’ into their tweet along with a few usernames (e.g. @gameacademycom) they think people would be interested in following. As soon as this message is tweeted, the user(s) you included in the tweet will be alerted, and usually, they will retweet the message, and if they have not done a Follow Friday yet? They will likely include your name in their #FF tweet.

What does this mean for you? Whenever they retweet your message, their followers will see this tweet, and whenever they post a #FF tweet with your username in the tweet? This again will be seen by their followers. If a user that has a lot of followers retweets and includes your name in their #FF tweet, this can result in a lot of followers very quickly.

Game developer also take part in another social event known as ‘Screenshot Saturday.’ Using the hashtag ‘#screenshotsaturday,’ in which developers post screenshots of their upcoming games (and new games). The website Screen Shot Saturday collects these screenshots and places them on their website, and because the game media follows this site regularly, this is a great way to get extra exposure for your game (and thus, more followers).


Engage with your followers

Always make an effort to communicate with your followers whenever possible. For example, if you post some information related to your game and one of your followers comments on it, comment back and start a dialogue with them. Alternatively, if one of your followers makes a comment or tweets, comment on them and start a conversation this way. The bottom line is this: make an effort to communicate with your followers whenever possible, and more followers (and eventually, more sales of your game/games) will follow.


Always follow back when you are followed, vice-versa

This cannot be stressed enough: if someone goes out of their way to follow you, follow them back. Most of the time, if someone finds that an individual they followed is not following them, they will unfollow them. Of course, this isn’t true of celebrities, the President – generally, the most popular people on Twitter – but for the rest of us? It certainly is true. If someone wants to take a few seconds out of their day to follow you, do the both of  you a favor and follow them back.

On the other hand, unfollow those that do not follow you back. It’s a matter of ‘practicing what you preach,’ and especially when you consider that you can only follow a limited amount of people, it becomes apparent that you need to follow only those that want to follow you back. JustUnfollow is a great tool to use to keep tabs on who is following you and which people you have followed but have not followed you back.


Be polite

Don’t use profanity. As with everything, there is a time and a place to curse like a sailor and be as vulgar as possible (e.g. my birthday party). Yet, it isn’t on Twitter, and it certainly isn’t the Twitter account you use to promote your games. Don’t be rude, be respectful, and generally be pleasant.


Don’t advertise too much

I see it every time I open up my Twitter feed: someone is advertising something. Moreover, if I go into many of my followers’ profiles (that I am also following), I notice they are only advertising their book, game, etc. throughout the day, every day. Who wants to follow someone that ‘spams’ every day? I know I sure don’t.

Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with advertising your products (in this case, your games). If your game is on sale, advertise it. If you have new footage of your game, post it. Yet, do not solely post content regarding your game. Post humorous tweets, funny observations, interesting articles you have found on the Internet (even those that are not related to gaming). In short, make it seem as if you are a normal person, and people will continue to value what you have to say.

Twitter is a powerful tool, and it literally pays to use it. Follow the steps above, and in no time, you will have a plethora of followers that you can communicate with regularly. You are going to be glad that you used Twitter to sell your games and deliver new information on upcoming games, so get out there and start getting followers today!

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