Up until now this guide (part 1, part 2, and part 3) has focussed on easily actionable things that you can start doing today to grow a community. They will all take time and effort but have a measurable impact on your community.
For example, we can see how many visitors your website is getting, the number of followers you have on twitter, and how many newsletter signups you get at an event.
For part 4. I want to focus on unmeasurable activities that will improve your passive followers and is what I believe to be the most powerful form of marketing.
The activities described in this article are part of a very slow process that relies on you being genuinely interested in what you do and the communities around it.
You can try and fake it by pretending to be more interested than you actually are, but it is very likely you will be found out. I strongly advise you to be honest with yourself when reading the following suggestions and make a decision about whether or not this is for you.
In the board game hobby space Facebook is the place to go for communities, there are tens of thousands of active people posting regularly about the latest games.
I recommend you find groups that appeal to you and try to become active in them.
This doesn’t mean posting about your game, it doesn’t mean advertising, it simply means become a genuine member of the community. Over time people will start to recognise your name, you’ll develop online friendships and this is a very good place to be.
The goal here isn’t to tell any of these people about your game, but for people to learn about you, so when they do hear about your game and realise you’re the person who made it, they have an immediate positive reaction. They come to you and say “I didn’t realise you were working on this” is the exact response you’re looking for.
There are many groups available to join, here are a few I recommend, and I’d suggest you find the one that is right for you and become a genuine member.
If you’re not familiar with Reddit, then it describes itself as a network of communities where people can dive into their interests, hobbies, and passions.
It’s one of the biggest websites in the world with tens of millions of daily users with a board game community of over 3.5 million users.
Just like with Facebook communities, this is not a place to go and start talking about your games and posting adverts. In fact, with Reddit that’s the quickest way to get yourself banned and removed from the platform.
Instead, it’s a platform for engaging in conversations, sharing thoughts and discoveries, and generally being involved in communities. I personally visit Reddit every day, browse through multiple communities and post and comment on things I find interesting as I see fit.
I’ve had an account for over 10 years and during that time have built up a positive reputation and my account has become known within various communities.
There are 2 positive outcomes from this when it comes to community growing:
- It has further increased my passive followers
- In the cases where my games become the topic of a conversation, I can get involved in the conversation (where it is appropriate) and answer any questions which may help avoid the thread from taking a negative turn.
I touched on board game stores, cafes, and gaming groups in part 3 but with a focus point of building an immediate community.
At this point I’d like to circle back to these topics and expand upon them by adding local communities as another approach for getting your name out there and gaining passive followers.
In Bristol I’ve belonged to many loosely related groups over the years including sci-fi, fantasy and video gaming groups. Being a part of any closely related hobby community is a great way to make friends and over time, genuine followers.
I’m known in all the local stores, cafes, and many of the board game groups again and it has been easy to do as I’m genuinely passionate about playing games and meeting people.
I’ve repeated it a few times but remember, this isn’t about advertising your game today, it’s about growing a passive following of people who will eventually discover your game and have a larger positive response to it when they realise you are the person behind it.
Facebook, Reddit, and local communities aren’t the only options, there are plenty of other communities all over the place. These days we have communities on Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, Discord and many other places.
I recommend searching the platforms you frequently use and looking for any hobbyist communities you would genuinely like to be a part of. Join the conversation, become a known entity, and give back to the communities around you.
The more you put your name out there, the more you’ll gain in the long run.