Growing a community part 5
There are many ways to grow a community and in this guide (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) I’ve tried to cover a range of ideas without diving too deeply into any one thing specifically. In future articles I’ll dive deeper into specific ideas but I’d like to wrap things up with a few final thoughts.
Board Game Geek forum
Every game should have a listing on Board Game Geek and this is something you can add yourself. Once created, you’ll gain access to a free forum area specifically for your game which is a great place to grow a community.
Whenever my games launch on BGG I immediately post 2 posts:
- A welcome post saying hi to those who stumble across it along with a WIP link (see the next section).
- A where to find us post with links to my social media and website.
This means anyone who finds the game will be able to join the conversation without having to be the first person to post. Over time I add more posts such as designer diaries, news, and timelines, providing visitors with useful information.
Board Game Geek WIP
In addition to your own game forum Board Game Geek has many other great forums and for your first games, I highly recommend using the Works in Progress section with a goal of posting once a month.
This is a great way to discuss your game, share your journey and let people follow along.
I’ve not done this for my newer games as I’ve now moved to my own website as I am lucky enough to have a large community already, but I certainly found value in it for my first games.
Here’s an example for Rising Blades, eventually the game was cancelled but it gives you a good example of how I ran my WIP posts.
Twitch is a live streaming platform and the best place for hosting live events. When I first worked on The City of Kings I would stream playtests and let people see the game being played.
I’ve also used Twitch over the years for design sessions, Q&As, and just for playing games while chatting with people.
As an example, GhostlyTuna is a Twitch streamer who spends 50% of their time streaming their day job (coding) and 50% of their time playing games. They’ve gain thousands of followers over the years just from streaming their daily work!
If you are comfortable in front of a camera and have the ability to live stream, it can be a good way to build a community over time.
Discord is a social messaging platform where you can create your own server, set up chat rooms, and invite people to join in the discussion.
Primarily I view Discord as a good community strengthening platform as it encourages engagement between existing community members, but it can also bring new people in.
Having a Discord server setup for your brand can be very powerful, especially if you give people reason to join. You’ll need to be active, but organising gaming, playtesting, design discussions, and enabling your Discord community to be involved in the creation process can be very beneficial.
People love to share their opinions and creating surveys can be a great way of inviting people into the discussion.
Over the years I’ve created many surveys that have had thousands of people fill them out. This creates passive followers, but by providing an option at the end of each survey for people to join my newsletter it also creates genuine followers.
I recommend using Google Forms as it is free and reliable but other platforms exist.
The trick to a successful survey is to make sure you are asking important questions that will provide valuable results, and to share those results with people afterwards. A large amount of my early day followers came through discussing the results of surveys.
Despite my dislike of growing communities through competitions I feel it is important to touch on them briefly.
A competition is a powerful way of getting incentivised followers and can result in many thousands of new people signing up to something. If you want to boost your numbers, then running a competition is a great way to do it.
Just remember most incentivised followers are not going to be invested in your brand and are unlikely to stick around.
While 10% of your genuine followers may respond to something, perhaps only 1% of your incentivised followers will. This is still good as 1% of 10,000 is going to be valuable, but you must factor this in when predicting potential conversion rates.
The best time to start growing your community is today and if you have any other ideas on how to do that I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
I hope this guide has helped you come up with some new ways to grow your community and proves to be a useful resource over time.
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!
21st June 2022 at 9:15 pm
Thanks for sharing this series Frank, as someone who has just started trying to build a community, I have found them really helpful!
On the surveys one, I was wondering where you post or advertise these?
22nd June 2022 at 1:23 pm
It depends on the type of survey but I have used a variety of places.
More direct community surveys I’ve put into my newsletters and social channels. Wider reaching surveys I’ve posted into various Facebook groups, Board Game Geek, social channels and even a few have gone onto Reddit.
These days I find that Facebook groups gain the most results (outside of my newsletter), but the surveys need to be interesting enough for people to want to participate.