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Social Media Marketing for Indie Games – 2021 Guide

Hi, I’m Miko. I’ve been learning digital marketing ever since my first commercial game, That Which Binds Us, didn’t sell as well as I expected. Nowadays I do social media management at Studio Élan and Virtuality Project as well as my own studio Crystal Game Works. I get asked a lot how new devs can promote their indie game and the short answer is “post interesting images consistently” but the long answer is, well, much longer. When does a new dev start posting? Where do they post? How do they post?

This series will be long. Treat it as a guide book. An advice list. Take some parts as solid rules and others as ideas you can mold into your own style. Figure out what works best for you and your game as you learn. Let’s get started.

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What We Can Learn from Manga Marketing

A few days ago I had to clean up our storage unit. One of the boxes I took home was part of my manga collection. As a new rule of thumb I don’t work on weekends (but I’m writing this on Saturday- whoops!) so I spent the day rereading some of then. Since I’m a shounen junkie, a lot of them are from Shounen Jump. As I finished a couple of them, I noticed that at the end of every manga they had a straight-forward marketing strategy…

Let’s take a look at the end of a handful of mangas to see what I mean. I’ll list out a few different mangas to give examples of different advertisement strategies and then see how we can relate this to video games.

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My Experience with the 2020 Summer and Autumn Steam Game Festivals

This summer Steam introduced their games festivals, tri-annual events on Steam where users could try out demos for upcoming games. Anyone who’s a Steam publisher can enter them and the demos are featured on Steam. For indies, it’s a win-win.

However, with the second Steam Game Festival now coming to a close, it’s clear this isn’t the marketing goldmine we’ve all been looking for. Today I’m going to quickly go over my experiences with both game festivals and what I hope to see in the future.

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Marketing Indie Games on Amino

My experiences with Amino and takeaways from it

One of my college roommates (still) spends a lot of time browsing newer social media platforms- one of them being Amino. I knew it was an app that Gen-Z uses but that was about it. And then another friend said she used it and that there were visual novel and artist groups on it. Now I was intrigued.

I had never heard of people using Amino for marketing, but surely it had been attempted, right? This was a popular social media for younger people. Millions of downloads. It had been attempted, right?!

After hours of searching for articles, threads, something along the lines of “I’m going to post on Amino to promote my thing” I came up empty-handed. So I trenched into uncharted territory. Here’s what I found.

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2020 Social Media Calendar for Indie Games

So a year or so ago I released my version of a social media calendar for indie game marketing. Now, I’ve spruced it up a bit.

What is a social media calendar?

A social media calendar is basically a cheat-sheet for marketers to look at to figure out what to post that day. Don’t think of it as something that’s set in stone- think of it as an idea. Feel free to take some ideas from this and form your own weekly social media calendar!

(Right click -> Open Image in New Tab to see it fullsized)

I listed 3 ideas for every day of the week. This doesn’t mean post 3 times a day, this is just an idea for what you can post each day! If you’d like more ideas for social media posts, check out my article on over 40 different post ideas for your indie game studio.

Here’s the text version of the calendar:

Monday

  • #MotivationMonday- post something motivational
  • Post a link to a devlog or editorial
  • Share a piece from the soundtrack

Tuesday

  • Post a poll- ask for feedback, something silly, etc.
  • Post a preview of something new to come
  • Share concept art

Wednesday

  • #WIPWednesday- post a WIP of whatever you’re working on
  • #IndieDevHour- 7PM UK time post something indie dev
  • Do a giveaway

Thursday

  • #ThrowbackThursday- post something old and compare it to how it looks now
  • Ask for feedback on a new asset / screenshot
  • Introduce a team member

Friday

  • #FanartFriday- RT fanart of your game
  • #FollowFriday- thank some of your followers and tag them
  • Link your trailer or new gameplay shots

Saturday

  • #ScreenshotSaturday- post a screenshot from your game
  • #CutieSaturday- post art of a cute girl from your game
  • Show a behind-the-scenes look

Sunday

  • Post a funny quote from the game
  • Say what inspired you to make your current game(s)
  • Write a devlog on the process for making part of the game

Feel free to share this article or the calendar itself around. If you liked this post, I’ve got plenty more marketing & game dev articles on this blog under the Articles tab.

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Partnering with Similar Audiences

So a few months ago I ordered some stickers from Shutterfly. In case you’re unaware on who they are, they’re a typical photo print site where you can upload photos and get it printed on about anything.

Anyway, they were having a sale so I said sure and tried them out. The package was a flat cardboard envelope.

I opened up the package and there was my stickers in a sheet. They’re not too bad quality, but I wouldn’t recommend them unless they’re over 50% off (cheaper to get stickers elsewhere).

However, something else was included in my package…

A wine voucher with my stickers? It’s more likely that you think. At first I thought this was some weird cross-promotion, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me…

Think about your audience

Shutterfly was clearly incentivising its customers to buy more. At this stage in the marketing funnel I’m clearly a customer- I’ve bought something from them and have received my product. But why wine?

My best guess is because of their target audience- who likes ordering custom photo gifts and wine? That’s right, women in their 30-50s. And uh, the occasional 22 year old college grad, minus the wine part.

Shutterfly’s homepage.

In most of their example images, the models are women of varying ages; some of the photos show families, but most are of women.

While wine clearly isn’t a gendered product, Naked Wines is most likely expanding their awareness by partnering with a company that has a similar audience.

Partnering with others

The biggest takeaway I have for this is two things:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Don’t be afraid to work & partner with groups with similar audiences

While the Shutterfly example is more of a company getting adspace with another company’s audience, you can partner with other groups to cross promote. Sharing each others’ games, boosting them all, etc.

With games it’s safe to say that if a player likes RPGs, they’re not going to play one and then abandon the genre altogether- they’re going to look for more RPGs. Consider teaming up with creators for similar games!

The easiest way for us game devs to partner together is to share each others games- retweet posts or make new posts sharing each others games. Another way is to participate in bundles and collections with other devs. Although I’ve yet to try it, you could go more personalized with collaborative events.

To summarize:

  • RT / share posts
  • Participate in bundles / collections
  • Host collaborative events

At the very least, get out there and talk to others who are making games with a similar audience to yours!


I like to learn from example, so I thought this quick post would be an interesting read to at least somebody. Feel free to tell me what you think on Twitter or in my marketing channel on Discord!