By now there’s no question that the video game industry has captivated the hearts, minds, and free time of most of the world’s population. Entertainment Software Association (ESA) revealed that in the US, almost 49% of adults frequently play video games for three hours (at least) a week, while 75% of households claim that they have at least one gamer.
And did you know that 65% of the US population aged 13 and above play video games? This is why gaming community management is important for any gaming brand that would like to not only connect and support their community, but grow it with the kind of virality endemic to the internet.
In this article we’ll walk through:
- The role of social media in online gaming
- The best social media platforms for reaching gamers
- Social media marketing strategies for growing your online gaming community
But first, let’s set the scene.
Video game industry growth: why you need a marketing strategy for your game
According to Tech Jury estimates, the gaming industry will be worth a whopping $180 billion in 2021.
And what about the market for esports? It’s also worth noting that the global esports market revenue will reach about $1,790 million by 2022. Did you know that its CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2017 and 2022 is expected to be 22.4%?
So, with numbers like these, it’s no secret that esports marketing has become the main priority, especially for non-endemic brands.
For many years the video gaming industry posed an enigmatic challenge that many marketers were not able to crack: initially the gaming market was a niche space where gamer attention (and gamer spend) went almost exclusively to the launch dates of major games, leaving little room for indie games to make a splash.
Up until recently, marketing in the gaming industry was an unpredictable and frustrating undertaking for any game other than household names.
Thankfully, things have changed in the recent past due to the popularity of social media. With the right video game marketing strategy on social media, you can grow your gaming community and increase revenue, no matter how well known you are today — or how big your marketing budget is.
The role of social media in online gaming
There’s no question that our world is quickly becoming a gamer’s paradise, especially with the growth of artificial intelligence (AI), mobile marketing, and augmented reality (AR). Developing and executing an efficient and effective social media marketing strategy is a valuable and useful tool for game developers.
As a game developer, it allows you to be in full control when marketing your games. You probably know that social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, are used for game inspiration, research, and troubleshooting. They are also used to connect with like-minded gamers in the gaming community.
It’s no secret that social media is now a boon for the gaming industry and gaming community. There are several reasons for this. For example, social media platforms like Twitch have all types of audience with different age groups and interests.
Actually, it’s almost certain that social media is the best way to reach a gaming audience. It’s safe to assume that in 2020, the average gamer is on either Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or Snapchat — if not all of them.
In fact, most gamers engage with a variety of social media platforms on the daily — often multiple times per day. Taking this into consideration, it’s easy to see how social media is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience and keep them up to date and informed.
Most gaming companies in the US have long-realized that social media platforms like YouTube are very effective and efficient as a medium to distribute details on things like new promotions, games releases, bonuses, and exciting facts. This is important because it keeps their audiences updated, but also helps attract new players — which is one of the goals of video game marketing. But other social media platforms are worth exploring, too.
Some of the most common social media platforms and tools you may use for esports marketing are Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also leverage Twitch influencers and YouTube influencers for this purpose.
The best social media platforms for reaching gamers
Each social media platform has its unique benefits when it comes to growing your gaming community, and you can reap even more benefits by cultivating an online presence on a variety of platforms — think: complementing your Youtube strategy by cross-posting on Instagram.
All social media platforms will help you get a better and more comprehensive idea of who your audience is as well as where you should concentrate your efforts when marketing your online games. Also, it is important to have at least one account on one of the major social media networks to stay connected with your target audience.
And to decide which social media platforms you would like to commit to, you have to craft your social media marketing strategy with each of their unique strengths and benefits in mind. This will help you achieve the best results.
You know that online gaming is now more socially accessible compared to the past. And with the swift rise of multiplayer games along with social networking, gamers can now chat with people they might not know when they are playing. This is why a social media marketing strategy is an integral part of your overall video game marketing strategy.
Another benefit of social media is that it’s also an excellent way of getting feedback. You can use this feedback to improve your video game or esports marketing strategy. Gaming companies and brands that embrace social media networks, such as YouTube, usually find it easy and quick to gain valuable insights and opinions from their members about almost anything, from game features and new releases to the product range.
As an esports brand, you can use this feedback to enhance your products and services, improving the overall gaming experience in the process. Tapping into this wealth of information has endless benefits for competitive markets like gaming.
Generally speaking, here are the best social platforms for reaching gamers and growing your gaming community.
Now, let’s look at how you can make a splash and attract an engaged audience of gamers on each of them.
Here are 5 social media strategies for growing your game’s community online
Tip 1. Use Twitch for effective video game marketing
Twitch is easily one of the world’s biggest live-streaming platforms. It’s undoubtedly the most popular and beloved platform when it comes to video game-specific live streaming. Did you know that Twitch also has some of the highest engagement levels of any major media platform? This is because of the nature of streamer-chat interactions as well as subscriber bases.
One of the best aspects of Twitch is its Partner & Affiliate program, which is similar to YouTube. Through this program, the platform allows streamers to easily share a portion of the advertising revenue, giving streaming influencers a steady source of income. It’s important to note that Twitch has set minimum standards to become a part of this partner program.
Twitch is also the most popular and successful streaming platform for esports marketing. Currently the platform has a relatively low volume of ads, so sponsored ads tend to have a very high success rate on Twitch. This is because streaming fans are fully immersed in engaging content. The contest features and live chat further increase the interactivity quotient.
Twitch is well aware of the immense advertising potential of its platform and provides you with an extensive variety of options that you can implement as part of your overall esports marketing strategy. We can separate these options into two categories: Advertising with Twitch Streamers and Advertising on Twitch.
Keep in mind that if you are familiar with running ads on YouTube through Google Ads, then Twitch’s video ad units will seem quite familiar. There are four video ad unit options that are available now. These are Mobile Video, Desktop Video, Cross-Screen Video and SureStream. The best part is that all have various targeting and customization capabilities.
Consider partnering with Twitch streaming influencers
There is no doubt that influencers can help you considerably improve the reach as well as the penetration of your esports campaigns and events. However, it’s crucial to find the right influencers that have the same target audience as yours and are also active on the chosen platform. For example, Shroud is one of the best streamers on Twitch. This platform is also perfect for interacting with a streamer’s audience through live chat.
Tip 2: Use Twitter to get the word out about your game
Twitter is already one of the most widely used and dominant social media platforms in the world for direct communication and holds the lion’s share of interaction and engagement in both esports and the gaming world. There is no doubt that Twitter has been the most effective social platform for game developers looking to make new product-related announcements.
Keep in mind that all major Twitch influencers, streamers, YouTubers, and esports organizations have a dedicated Twitter account. They use these accounts to interact with their fans. Tournament/stream announcements, giveaways, gameplay clips, and sponsored videos are only a few types of content that both content creators and gaming companies in the esports industry share with their followers using Twitter, so you should also put yourself where these conversations are happening.
Think of it like this: Twitter is like a direct line of communication to the gaming community. This is because it makes it very simple to engage in relevant and meaningful conversations while sharing news with your current network and those you would like to reach.
Not only that, but Twitter is excellent for networking. A majority of people will ask for your Twitter handle whenever you visit a gaming conference or event.
How to market your game on Twitter
- As Twitter is the most popular with news and announcements, use this platform to make your announcements. For example, you can keep your audience updated about your streaming time.
- You can go Live with your Periscope account on Twitter, like YouTube and Facebook.
- Make the most of relevant hashtags so new audiences can discover your content.
- Leverage moments and lists to draw extra attention to posts from your timeline.
- You can even follow other gaming influencers as well as top gaming equipment brands. Don’t forget to engage with the best gaming brands in order to draw their attention.
It is certainly a ‘Twitter sees it first’ situation now in the modern gaming community. This is why understanding the vital role that Twitter plays as the main communication platform in the gaming industry will help guide both the messaging as well as by-channel budget allocation for your overall esports marketing strategy.
Tip 3: Incorporate YouTube into your social strategy for your game
While YouTube isn’t a social platform strictly dedicated to gaming, gaming content is on the rise to say the very least. This is excellent if you’re a game developer. It’s no secret that YouTube is the most popular video platform internationally with one third of the total population as viewers, so you can’t ignore it regardless of the genre. Did you know that in 2018, people watched over 50 billion hours of gaming videos on YouTube?
One of the best features of YouTube advertising for gaming brands is how granular and specific you can get with your ad targeting.
If you develop a healthy and suitable mix of both narrow and broad audience segments, it will help ensure that your gaming brand gains maximum exposure. Also, you can deliver targeted messaging to your different audience segments.
Tips for marketing your game on YouTube
- Post live streaming content of your game on YouTube. Note that live streaming can increase the likelihood of your gaming channel and video getting featured on the YouTube homepage, so it increases the chances of getting more subscribers and views.
- Upload the best hacks and strategy for games of your expertise or niche.
- Offer game tutorials, tips, and guides to your gamers. These don’t have to be fancy, low-fidelity content is easy to produce and likely just as engaging to your target audience.
- Partner with YouTube influencers in order to create new and engaging YouTube gaming content to impress gamers.
- Make announcements and share valuable information on online games.
- Once you have a critical mass of gamers following your YouTube, don’t miss the chance to run giveaways and contests to ratchet up your audience retention.
One final low hanging fruit to call out on YouTube: you can also create simple playlists for each game or topic you post about to help gamers easily navigate through your YouTube gaming channel. It’s worth noting that the YouTube video description, picture thumbnail, title, and video tags are a crucial part of game marketing SEO, and you should carefully craft them for each gaming video that you post to get the best results.
Tip 4: Use Facebook to increase your game’s reach
Facebook has an active user base of more than 2.6 billion people and is still considered to be the leading social platform at the moment. Did you know that a standard user spends more than 70% of their time on the internet on this platform? Even though you might think of Twitch or YouTube when you think of gaming social media, the numbers on Facebook are sufficient reason to have an active and strong presence to make sure you’re capturing the biggest gaming audience you can.
You may know that Facebook’s advertising service is easily one of the most effective and suitable means of tailoring ads to specific audiences. You can also receive insights on your page’s interactions. Another great thing is that Facebook ads are a relatively inexpensive way for gaming studios to market games.
How to market your game on Facebook
- Facebook Live, similar to YouTube Live stream, is also one of the most engaging ways to interact with your gaming fans on the platform. You can stream your games and also encourage feedback and comments about your game from the audience.
- You can share detailed and comprehensive gaming related information and announcements via Facebook Notes on your Facebook business page.
- You can also run giveaways and contests to ensure audience retention.
- You may know that organic reach is low on Facebook. As a result, opt for a sponsored post for your selected updates in order to get better engagement.
Given its relevance to most people’s everyday life, Facebook should be an important part of your overall game advertising strategy. This is because the platform has the largest captive audience, and you can push your products and services efficiently at scale.
Tip 5: Use Discord to create a cult following around your game or esports brand
Discord is often also referred to as the Skype of online gaming these days. It’s an excellent combination of voice, text and video chat options under a single platform that gamers love. While Discord is not like the other social media platforms, the chat servers help build a tight-knit community for all users which we don’t see happening on any other platform.
By now, most esports games and online games have at least a single Discord server. If you run a gaming company, you can connect directly with gamers using Discord and know what is on their mind.
As Discord is an interactive live chat community, sometimes it may seem overwhelming and daunting to manage. However, the good news is that gamers do not expect you to respond quickly to everything they post.
In fact, these close gaming communities on Discord tend to be more focused on their interactions with other gamers. Your role in this is to simply provide an outlet for gamers to do just that. With that in mind, it’s an excellent social gaming channel for chatting and interacting with people in-game as well as discussing ideas and key questions for what your brand might want to focus on going forward.
Use Discord servers to host team events for your game
You may create a Discord server in order to network with your team. Your team members can easily post questions and also exchange notes by using the dedicated server.
Growing a gaming community takes time, expertise, effort, and constant moderation and adaptation — so unless you have a colossal ad budget, it’s best to buckle up for the long-game. Whether you’re growing your esports brand or video game brand online, keep in mind that each avenue you take will require plenty of experimentation, patience, and a fair amount of trial and error. But this is part of the fun of marketing, and the pay off can be huge given the industry size.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing your game through social media. If you want some expert help figuring out the best way to get your game out there, consider reaching out to Loopr. We’re old veterans at building out high performing social media platforms and enriching your content to grow your online community organically.
Can’t get enough of this stuff? Check out our video game PR case studies to learn how we’ve helped indie game developers and esports brands just like you.