Growing a community part 2
In part 1 of this guide I discussed some of the basic elements required for growing a community and in this part I will be taking a look at social media.
Social media is one of the biggest tools we have but it must be handled properly, otherwise it will end up doing as much harm as good.
There are many different social media platforms available and one of the biggest mistakes people make is rushing to use them all. There’s a thought that being on more platforms means you’ll get more eyes, and whilst this is true in part, a big part of the success of using social media is the quality of the content you put out.
Focussing on one or two platforms and doing a fantastic job on them is going to bring you more benefits than being on every platform but doing it poorly. In this article I’ll share some thoughts about each platform and to help you decide which ones you should be using.
YouTube is a video platform and is great if you are comfortable in front of a camera, have an OK or better set up, and can present information well.
For community building, you’ll want to release 1 or 2 videos a week and should schedule them to always release on specific days at specific times. Don’t overwork yourself, if you can’t manage 2 a week reliably, then start with 1 a week and build up some extra videos in the background. If you end up with a lot of extra videos then you can always switch to 2 a week later.
You’ll most likely want to focus on information videos, these may be reviewing games, talking about game design, publishing, and bigger topics similar to blog posts. List videos can be very popular if you focus on your top 5 of this, or top 10 of that.
You should think about whether the content will all be focussed on your own games and journey, or whether you want to widen the content to cover other games as well. Try and be consistent but also feel free to experiment until you find something that works for you.
Stonemaier Games is a great example of a YouTube channel done well.
Twitter is a short message platform and is great if you are good at condensing information, engaging in conversation, and regularity. To be successful on Twitter you’ll want to be posting daily and actively engaging with other people’s accounts.
This means following people you find interesting such as designers, publishers, content creators, and passionate gamers. Then regularly reading through the feeds and responding to people’s messages where appropriate.
Twitter rewards engagement a great deal and while your own daily tweets are important, liking, retweeting, and commenting on other people’s tweets is the best way to grow your own community over time.
I recommend brainstorming the types of tweets you can post reliably and trying to think ahead. For instance:
- Monday may be a start of the week post.
- Tuesday might be a testing games post.
- Wednesday could be a photo of a game you played that week.
- … and so on.
It doesn’t have to be this formulaic, but it can help you get started if you’re not comfortable with coming up with something original every day.
Facebook contains many Board Game communities and is a very powerful community growing platform if used correctly.
Just like having a website, a Facebook page is a great central hub for your brand on Facebook and a place for many people to discover you as they search for you on the platform.
You should make sure all your page details are as full as possible, going through the about section, add images, videos (if possible) and make it look attractive and active.
With the page setup, you’ll want to try and post regularly, I recommend once a week during building times and up to daily when you’re crowdfunding. Posts should be a mixture of things to engage with different types of followers.
You can post artwork, links to blog articles, polls asking people which of 2 options they prefer, and longer text posts as well. You should focus on creating engagement so always post something that gives people a reason to comment, such as asking a question.
Facebook pages will grow slower than many other social media platforms as they are more 1-directional (you post, they read) so they shouldn’t be your only platform, but they are one of the easier ones to run and very much worth having.
Facebook groups are great for encouraging conversation and giving your community a place to ask questions and discuss your games with each other.
I choose to have a different Facebook group for each of my games, but you can always have just one for your brand and all your games when getting started. Early on, it can be a place for playtesters to discuss the game, and overtime it can grow to a place to ask questions, discuss strategies, and share announcements.
Out of all the social media platforms on this list a Facebook group gives your community the biggest opportunity to share thoughts and talk with each other. Whenever I make new announcements, my Facebook groups are always the places I get the most interaction as the members have opted to be part of something that is dedicated to my brand. While on other platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, they are likely to be following many brands with your content being mixed in.
Keep in mind, it’s one of the hardest things to grow in the early days and people will need to be pointed at it from other places, such as your website and Facebook page.
Instagram is the perfect platform for people who have lots of opportunities to take photos and share artwork. If you travel to events, play lots of games, or are great at creating interesting photos then this is a platform you should consider.
To grow a community efficiently you will want to post 1 image every day and take advantage of hashtags as much as possible. Be sure to include a full range of board game related tags, but also image related tags such as geography, story, or event. Try to include engaging text that will encourage people to comment.
Posting daily can be tricky and you should try to pre-arrange as much content as possible, perhaps spending a couple of hours every Monday preparing all the posts for that week.
It can help to have a schedule of the types of things you post each day, for example:
- A game you played every Monday.
- A cool component every Tuesday.
- Something personal every Wednesday.
- Artwork from your game every Thursday.
- … and so on.
Be creative, explore ideas and see what works for you, as with all platforms it is possible to create a large following on Instagram if you do it right.
TikTok has been around for a fair while now but it’s only recently that board gamers have really started infiltrating the platform with 100,000+ follower accounts.
To be successful, you’ll need to learn the types of things TikTok users enjoy and become familiar with the short video format. Creating engaging, entertaining videos which may be informative or comical.
One of the most popular formats in board games is the 1-minute overview which tells you everything you need to know about a game in just 60 seconds.
I would only recommend TikTok to people who already use the platform as a consumer and are confident in their abilities to produce regular content suitable to the platform. Otherwise, it’s a platform that would be better suited once you have already grown to a certain size and have the resources to invest into it.
Either way, I’d still recommend downloading the app and getting familiar with it as you may find inspiration!
Making a decision
If you think a platform is right for you then go and look at what other creators are doing on those platforms, get some examples and brainstorm what your approach might be. Try and write down 20 ideas of what you might post on the platform and refine your ideas from there.
The most successful implementations on any social media platform are those that reliably produce regular quality content. You are making a long-term commitment and you should be confident you can keep this up for the foreseeable future.
Whatever you decide, I recommend you register accounts on all social media platforms even if you don’t plan to use them, as having your name secured for the future is beneficial. Simply register the accounts but don’t post anything and keep them available for the future.
You should also consider thinking about your voice and how you want to be seen across all your platforms, being consistent is important.
Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!
9th June 2022 at 7:28 pm
What about a Discord?
9th June 2022 at 8:04 pm
I’ll be discussing Discord in another part of this guide as I view it as a different form of social media.