Adventures In Small Studio Marketing
I’ve been spending a large portion of the past week or two working on studio infrastructure.
What do I mean by infrastructure exactly? I mean everything from working on dedicated web pages supporting the studios’ games to setting up and configuring social networking apps like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
It is amazing how much time this kind of work can eat up and I tend to get a little frustrated wondering when I might be able to do some actual game development again!
I believe this type of infrastructure and organizational work is necessary though for a small independent game studio to succeed in the long run. After reading great indie marketing articles like The Zero Budget Indie Marketing Guide and Wolfire’s PR Tips I got inspired to spend some of my valuable time making progress on these fronts.
I’ve learned a good bit over the past two weeks as I’ve started using both YouTube and Twitter for the first time. (Yeah I know I’m a bit late to the party but at least I’m here now!) I’ve finally setup a Facebook page for the studio as well.
I wanted to share some of my experiences and thoughts so far on the various tools I’ve begun exploring to help increase the studio’s marketing reach and fan base. I’ve been carefully watching what other studios I admire are doing and what tools they are using and in what ways.
If you aren’t using a YouTube Channel to share your studios game development content with the general public and your fans I believe you are missing an interesting opportunity for outreach.
I’ve been attempting to use YouTube to share aspects of game development that I think non-game developers would find interesting as well as my hardcore fans. These include things like timelapse videos of the game development process as well as providing gameplay guides and preview gameplay videos too.
It is a great way for people to be able to leave early comments and feedback on works in progress as well as ways to comment on finished games. They can subscribe to your channel and easily share your videos on viral social networks like Facebook that can really build your presence and distribution potential.
YouTube also has an Audio Swap function after you’ve uploaded a video if you want to use freely available music soundtracks without recording one yourself. You can even search by song duration matched to video duration! This is a great way to add a little bit more interest to your otherwise silent video.
Facebook continues to grow both as a social networking platform and as an interesting game deployment platform as well for those of us in the Flash business space. I’ve been amazed by the few games I’ve had that have been picked up by various Facebook apps like Mind Jolt and the amount of traffic they’ve received as they spread so well via viral status updates and competitive challenges. It is quite exciting!
It is fairly straightforward to setup a Facebook page for your studio once you find the sometimes hidden create a page for your business link. Then it is a simple matter of filling out various forms and settings to your preference.
The largest time sink I encountered was in trying to upload various logo thumbnails until I found one that didn’t dither down heinously. Largely that is a problem due to the logo’s thin design and not Facebook but I eventually got a compromise I could live with. I wish they allowed you to differentiate the pages large image from the tinier status and post thumbnails as that would resolve the issue.
Thumbnail issues aside they offer the regular tools you’ve grown used to as a user of Facebook like Photos, Wall, Info, and Discussion threads to name a few. All these tools can allow you to communicate to your fans what your studio is up to. As an added benefit finally setting up a dedicated fan page will allow me to further separate my personal Facebook account from the business of the studio as I always felt a little vague about what types of updates Dave Evans was doing as compared to Hybrid Mind Studios before.
Next on the agenda of Facebook infrastructure work is to add a Become a Fan link on this blog. Facebook also allows you to tie your fan page to your Twitter account for ease of updating multiple channels.
Using Twitter for your studio is yet another great way to provide tiny tidbits of what you are up to throughout the day or week. Sometimes called micro blogging it can let fans and other developers keep tabs in an ambient way with your current projects, ideas, and development cycle. There is also an easy way to tie your other social network applications to feed Twitter so you only have to update something in one place.
I’ve actually found most of the social networking apps make this integration really easy which I was thrilled to discover because it reduces a lot of the overhead of updating all your various tools when you have something to post. Integrations are available for Facebook, YouTube, WordPress (via TwitterFeed), and Bitly (URL shortening with click analytics).
If you take a day or two to set these tools up early it will give you a chance to let the social networking snowball grow. These tools take time to work and the earlier you get them started the better. Before you know it you will be able to quickly and efficiently communicate to your fans and followers and reach larger and larger audiences for your games!