To say the gaming industry is doing well would be the ultimate understatement.
Video games represent a $130+ billion market with no signs of slowing down. If anything, gaming is poised to grow even more as competing forms of entertainment (film, television, sports) stall due to COVID-19.
There’s a massive window of opportunity for indie developers, esports teams and industry giants (think: Nintendo) to grow their audiences right now.
And doing so starts by mastering social media for gamers.
Social media absolutely explodes every time there’s an E3 or Nintendo Direct. Meanwhile, Twitch streamers and esports stars boast some of the most engaged social followers around.
Heck, Twitter has its own trending category dedicated to gaming. Plus, Twitter found that in the first half of 2020 alone, audiences sent 1 billion tweets about gaming.
But how do you get in on the action? What does it take to build up a gaming audience via social?
Good questions! Our strategy guide to social media for gamers breaks it all down step-by-step.
8 strategies to level up your video gaming marketing
It’s no secret that social media can potentially transform a seemingly smaller studio or game into a viral sensation.
We’ve seen it in the past with Fortnite and more recently with Fall Guys. The more players and streamers share clips of your project, the more likely it is to snowball in popularity.
When we say Fall Guys is experiencing a lot of traffic…
We had over 1.5 million new players in the first 24 hours!
We're working on our first patch for the game, listening to ALL of your feedback and ideas, and are super grateful to everyone who's supported so far! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/OpD714xu26
— Fall Guys 👑 (@FallGuysGame) August 5, 2020
But before we get into the nitty-gritty, keep in mind that video gaming marketing is not one-size-fits-all.
Rather than try to replicate the success of a certain game or team, it’s important to come up with a comprehensive social strategy that makes sense for your audience.
In general, gamers are digital natives who are chronically online. A 2019 GlobalWebIndex report on Twitter usage found that 55% of gamers check in on the platform daily, and Twitter Insiders research found that 68% specifically do so to keep up with gaming news and trends. They’re plugged into the latest trends and memes, meanwhile representing a younger demographic (note that 59% of gamers are under the age of 34).
With all of that in mind, let’s dive into how to master gaming social media step-by-step.
1. Focus on hyping up live events such as streams, announcements and competitions
The popularity of livestreaming is well-documented, with Twitch scoring millions of average viewers per day. Gamers are constantly on the hunt for new content to check out, preferably in real-time.
That’s why so much of social media for gamers is centered around creating a sense of hype. After all, building anticipation gets people talking (and ultimately tuning in).
Let’s look at some examples. Check out how Bethesda hypes up their upcoming digital #QuakeCon, including a variety of panels and livestreaming events.
Get ready for three days of nonstop livestream content from around the globe during the 25th annual #QuakeCon! Check out the full schedule for QuakeCon at Home: https://t.co/ImHTaFSk0n pic.twitter.com/dNbK5sW37U
— Bethesda (@bethesda) July 30, 2020
Similarly, esports leagues regularly post about rankings and ongoing competitions to reel in viewers. According to the 2019 report “Flocks: Uncovering Communities On Twitter” by Twitter, Jaywing and Join the Dots, 90% of esports fans use Twitter to keep up with the latest updates. Here’s an example from Rocket League, highlighting current standings and coupling their posts with streams for fans to check out.
It's time for Group B!
Who will make it through to next weekend? The #RLCSX Pre-Show is kicking off in 15. See you soon!
— Rocket League Esports (@RLEsports) August 2, 2020
Gaming has evolved from a passive activity into a branch of live entertainment. Putting on virtual events for fans is becoming par for the course for studios and teams of all shapes and sizes.
Reminder to tune in Tuesday July 28th at 3pm PT for a #THPS 1+2 virtual concert event! Check out performances from several incredible artists from THPS 1+2’s new expanded soundtrack, plus get a look at the full list of new artists in the game. https://t.co/d8ZSz71ep2 pic.twitter.com/5444UXNPhM
— Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 (@TonyHawkTheGame) July 27, 2020
Similarly, announcements and breaking news are the lifeblood of social media for gamers.
For example, E3 drives gaming-related conversations and debates via hashtags related to upcoming titles…
…while Nintendo’s #NintendoDirect announcements almost always result in a flurry of comments and shares from rabid fans. The levels of engagement on Nintendo’s Direct-related posts speak for themselves.
On 7/20 we'll debut the first #NintendoDirect Mini: Partner Showcase, a series focused on titles from our development & publishing partners. We'll share a few updates on a small group of previously-announced #NintendoSwitch games. Check out the full video release at 7am PT. pic.twitter.com/GbEbxVL6fD
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) July 20, 2020
In short, gamers are constantly craving something new to watch, react to or comment on. Make sure you’re giving ’em what they want.
2. Partner with streamers and up-and-coming gamers
Much like influencer marketing is all the rage with brands today, it makes perfect sense for those in the gaming industry to partner with streamers and gaming personalities.
Doing so not only introduces your company to a new audience but also puts a face to your marketing efforts.
“It was the best moment of my career”@FRANA_OW clutches the fight and pops off as Zenyatta.
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) July 30, 2020
It might seem like a no-brainer, but video game marketing should be, well, fun. Highlighting players enjoying your game is a simple way to do exactly that.
An added bonus of partnering with gamers is that you can likely find a good fit for your company without having to dig too much. Just like you’re eager to grow your brand, so are gamers.
Likewise, Streamers traditionally don’t want to partner with studios that aren’t a good fit for their audience: this ultimately gives your partnered promotions a much-needed sense of authenticity.
— GrandPooBear (@GrandPOOBear) February 27, 2020
3. When in doubt, lean into humor and memes
Humor goes hand in hand with social media and gamers.
Chalk it up to appealing to a younger audience or a demographic that’s constantly online. Either way, the common thread between studios both big and small is a humorous brand voice that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
If nothing else, memes have a high potential for shares and are a welcome break from purely promotional content. Having fun with your audience is crucial to building a sense of community.
Heard you were looking for Yakuza Kiwami… pic.twitter.com/7uNORWly0w
— Xbox Game Pass (@XboxGamePass) April 22, 2020
4. Empower your community to market on your behalf
Gamers are among the most passionate of any type of fandom.
Companies should do everything in their power to harness their audience’s sense of community and creativity.
In other words, make a point to shout-out your fans when they show you love. For example, the Celeste Twitter account regularly shares user-generated content such as fanart.
If you have seriously dedicated fans, don’t be shy about showing them off. In addition to the popularity of fanart, the explosion of interest in virtual photography through many games’ photo modes has led to even more UGC to highlight on social media.
Anything you can do to foster a sense of community is a plus. For example, Romino Games will share positive community feedback and even showcase smaller streamers playing their games.
See how that works? In short, let your community know that you’re listening to them and empower them to be your loudest advocates.
5. Be transparent when there’s a problem
Remember what we said about gamers being passionate and opinionated?
The same rules apply when they’re popping off about a bug or problem with whatever they’re playing.
Simply put, don’t try to sweep bugs or server outages under the rug. If you’re having issues, be clear and transparent about them. Own them.
A bug was discovered in the new Ver. 1.2.0 update that went live for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 today (July 16th).
A patch is forthcoming, and in the meantime, we encourage you to check the image here for a work-around.
We apologize for the inconvenience. pic.twitter.com/TV4mw3jLNh
— Inti Creates (@IntiCreatesEN) July 16, 2020
This also speaks to why many larger studios have dedicated channels for customer care to prevent complaints from spilling over to their main social feeds.
— Activision Support (@ATVIAssist) June 28, 2020
6. Maintain a thick skin when dealing with trolls
Although social media for gamers should focus primarily on fans, dealing with naysayers is inevitable.
Call-outs. Negative review bombs. Straight-up trolls. The list goes on and on.
Look no further than pretty much any gaming thread on Twitter which talks about features related to a new console (or anything vaguely related to the “console wars”).
PlayStation has confirmed that you won't be able to play PS5 games with a DualShock 4, though the current-gen controller will still work with "supported PS4 games." https://t.co/YSTilb7fBD pic.twitter.com/KyjLbPWdHF
— IGN (@IGN) August 3, 2020
The silver lining of gamers wanting to argue is that it makes for higher rates of engagement. That said, debates can quickly devolve into flame wars and spam.
It’s important for companies to both moderate their social comments while also developing a thick skin.
Note that the youngest demographics might be the loudest, but they’re not necessarily the ones speaking with their wallets. Make a point to respond to legitimate criticism or concerns and deal with trolls accordingly.
7. Understand the best practices of each platform
Let’s say you’re part of a relatively small team with limited resources for your video game marketing efforts.
What are the best social media channels for you? What platforms should you prioritize?
The short answer is that it depends.
As evidenced by all of the examples above, getting more followers on Twitter should be a top priority when it comes to social media for gamers. The platform is prime for breaking news and already has a dedicated gaming audience looking for day-to-day updates.
Facebook is fair game for studios as well, especially given that it’s such a popular place for offers and ads. The pace of content on Facebook also makes it ideal for attracting attention to long-term promotions.
Traditionally, Instagram for gamers is more focused on community updates and user-generated content like fan art and cosplay photography. Meanwhile, emerging platforms like TikTok are still the sort of wild west when it comes to gaming social media. That said, the billions of views on gaming-related hashtags should signal that there are opportunities for gaming studios and influencers to get on board.
8. Post regularly and consistently
Finally, keep in mind that content in the gaming industry moves fast.
Like, really fast.
New games, trends and memes come and go more quickly than we can keep track of them. This speaks to the need for companies to post regularly and ensure that they aren’t letting their social feeds gather cobwebs.
Consider the following posts to fill up a video game marketing content calendar:
- Shout-outs and mentions from fans or streamers
- Live event announcements (streams, esports)
- User-generated content such as fanart or cosplays
- Press mentions and positive reviews
- Screenshots and videos from upcoming games
- In-game updates and bug fixes
- Questions for your community
- Time-sensitive offers and promotions
With all this content competing for your attention as a social media team, this is somewhere where a tool like Sprout Social can help in a big way. From managing your must-see promotions to ensuring you have something fresh for your follower every day, the ability to schedule out your social media calendar is key to keeping organized.
And with that, we wrap up our guide to social media and gaming!
What does social media for gamers look like for your company?
Listen: gamers are a unique audience. Passionate and plugged in, they’re likewise the most likely to follow and engage companies and they’re fans of.
Our guide to social media for gamers will get you started with ideas to level up your marketing.
Speaking of which, make sure to check out the latest Sprout Social Index for additional tips on how to effectively reach a wider social audience and tap into what consumers really want out of social marketing.