Yeah so here’s my real article for February.
Time and time again, I’ll open up Twitter (already a bad move) and look through my feed- when I want to look for new visual novel projects, I look through Lemon’s feed, as she retweets stuff for visual novel developers.
Every so often, I’ll see something along these lines…
Or maybe something like this…
Or possibly even something like this…
To me, all of these tweets serve the same purpose—
These tweets are all the same bland marketing strategy—that is, to say, there is none to be found.
Typically when I ask developers “why did you tweet this?” I’m met with gawking and/or confusion. “I’m marketing my game” is the usual response, if not “I don’t know”. But what this “I’m marketing my game” response fails to clarify is “I’m trying to market my game but don’t have a plan outside of ‘tweet stuff'”.
“just tweet stuff” is not a marketing plan
You can’t “just tweet” your way to a successful game. For the sake of brevity, for this article we’ll define success as either “a commercial game that makes its money back” or “a game that receives mostly positive reviews”.
“Just tweeting stuff” is shooting darts into the wild and hoping something sticks. It’s a waste of your time and your follower’s time.
what is a plan, then?
A plan is something you plan out. You research the possibilities in front of you, weigh different options, and set things accordingly. “Just tweeting stuff out” is not a plan.
Most importantly, a plan is something you put considerable thought into.
This does not have considerable thought put into it.
how do I put thought into it?
You may have tweeted something out like this before without thinking about it. I probably have years ago. But these kind of tweets don’t have enough consideration put into them before they’re sent out.
why are you tweeting this?
Before you tweet, I want you to answer this. Why are you tweeting this? If your answer is just “I need to market”, you need to stop and ask yourself more questions.
what does this tweet do?
Does this tweet inform the reader of something? Does it introduce something new to the reader? Does it make them laugh? Be honest with yourself.
This tweet doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t inform the reader of anything. It introduces a new screenshot to the reader but does so terribly. And it definitely doesn’t make them laugh.
will someone enjoy this tweet?
Keep with me here—will anyone actually enjoy seeing this tweet enough to retweet it? By “anyone” I mean people actually hitting the retweet button and not just bots auto retweeting tweets. The answer, more often than not, is no.
Most people will not retweet a tweet like this.
There’s a simple reason why—it looks bad.
It doesn’t provide anything for the reader to want to share and it just plain looks bad. Why do you have so many tags? They purpose of tags is for a tweet to show up in search results, but do you really think anyone will see your tweet using generic tags like #art or #gamedev will like this?
Go through the social media accounts from other game devs that are more established than you. Get out a pencil and paper and take some notes.
What posts get more engagement than others? Do you like how their posts look? Do their tweets make sense? Can you segment their tweets into components of what make them up?
let’s build a tweet.
Let’s try to make one, shall we? We’ll go with a tweet I made a week ago, advertising the Steam Mystery Fest.
This is the image I want to use- it shows the game and title clearly; Steam users can tell it’s a Steam page; and it shows the Mystery Fest banner at the top. I was also lazy and didn’t use the official graphics they provided but anyway.
The purpose of this tweet is to drive views to the Steam page in the hopes of getting more people to play the game. In order to do that, I want to construct a tweet that both announces it’s part of the Steam Mystery Fest and informs new players what the game is about.
Crimson Waves on the Emerald Sea is part of the Steam Mystery Fest this week!— Crystal Game Works ✨ (@CrystalGameWork) February 20, 2023
A runaway rich kid and a pickpocketing vagabond have to work together to solve a decade old unsolved vampire attack…
🦇 Play it for free: https://t.co/nveBHqMgFX pic.twitter.com/gUzkvZLVO4
This tweet is easy to read and explains itself- it’s an announcement with the purpose of driving new players to the game.
Here’s another example. I wanted to do a quick tweet celebrating the anniversary of Heart of the Woods. The purpose of the tweet is just for fun for people who’ve played the game.
it's heart of the woods day pic.twitter.com/HUKUlBwSzP— Studio Élan ⚢ (@vnstudioelan) February 15, 2023
How is this tweet different from the fake ones I posted at the beginning? Because this tweet is just for fun. It was a quick announcement/reminder that it was the anniversary for the game. I’m not trying to sell the game to anyone. I’m not trying to reach new people. This was for people who played it and no one more.
a mini rant about hashtags
Not every tweet needs hashtags—I’d argue that a lot, if not most, don’t. Hashtags are mainly used by bots and for searching, but it’s recommended to use very few if any.
According to Twitter’s own business guide, you should only use one or two hashtags (that are relevant) in your tweets.
Furthermore, don’t make up hashtags for your game unless you have a reason to. Are you using it to let people easily see other tweets about your game? If you only have one game you’re working on, won’t your feed work just fine for that?
Don’t use more than 3 tags in your tweet. Just don’t. The era of “well maybe more hashtags will help” is over and we know now that it doesn’t work.
post things people like
At the end of the day, a post is pointless to make if no one will like it. If it doesn’t properly inform them about something, or get them excited about something, or make them laugh, then what is the point?
People don’t owe you their time. Any time they give you by following your pages is a gift.
Why waste their time (and yours) with posts no one will like?
Post things people want to care about.
post things YOU like!!!
Have fun with it! You’re going to be spending weeks, months, possibly years making a game. You should be your biggest fan so act like it.
Post previews of what you’re working on. Talk about your OCs. Share a cool screenshot you just got and explain how you did it.
Stop worrying about how many tags you’re using or what hour during the day time is best to post. Make posts that YOU care about and maybe others will care about it too.
I’ve found that, even with our established audience at Élan, our tweets do better when they have context provided. A prime example is screenshot Saturday, something I try to do every weekend—our screenshots look nice but not everyone understands contextless posts.
Most of your followers won’t even see your tweets, so they might not even know what the post is for. Give them additional information when you can and when it’s appropriate. People WANT to know more—make it easy for them to learn.
You might have also realized that while I talk mostly about tweets in this article, this can be applied to most if not all other social media platforms. Post things people actually want to share instead of just shoving your game in their face.
This article is actually a follow up to my article from earlier this month, Tuesday Morning’s Newsletter Sucks. I’ve been reading a lot more about providing value to readers, how we should stop taking other people’s time for granted when marketing.
I really like this angle and it’s clear that’s what a lot of beginner marketers mess up on (I know I did years ago). We get so caught up in “me me me” and “look at my cool awesome game” that we don’t stop to think what are we posting. The why are we posting always stops at “look at my cool awesome game” and doesn’t extend any further. We have to do better than that, we can do better than that!
Well, I managed to cram in 2 short articles for February and even did a fair amount of writing for Canvas Menagerie. And now NaNoRenO is here, ready to bring in a whole wave of new, bright-eyed visual novel developers.
It’s something I miss, just a bit. Entering game jams left and right, working on big teams. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I’m not remembering the headaches of organizing it all or the crunching from filling in ghosted member’s spots… But I hope these new VN devs can take that away as well—the good memories. The magic of creating a game with strangers on the internet.