The Benefits of Social Media To the Designer

Hello ladies and gents! Eugene Shenderov back again, and today I will touch on how I used social media and personal ‘selling’ to place first in the 2015 Board Game Geek microgame competition.Here is a link we made to our game in the competition: tinyurl.com/gcomrade

Kickass art by Charlie Wilcher, my cofounder.
Kickass art by Charlie Wilcher, my cofounder. Poster we put online to commemorate this momentous occasion 😛 thisandthatgames.com if you want to see the game!

The first thing I would like to note is the tinyurl. Here is the original link: (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/186510/2015-bgg-geekway-west-microgame-prototype-design-c)

Awful, right? It should be made sleeker and more elegant, which is what tinyurl.com does, for free! Great site. I recommend it thoroughly for those running contests or trying to send people to a long complex site, as it makes people much more likely to go there.

Furthermore, if there are other difficulties for your audience such as a long sign up process to enter a site, make sure they are aware of it- but after they have decided to vote. In other words, when making a call to action- such as asking people to vote for your game- write a friendly introduction, perhaps add flavor (I called everyone Comrade, etc.), give them a link, then explain any hiccups that could happen (briefly). Also, if you have something to give them physically or digitally (we had a card with instructions on voting), use that as well!

We had two main methods to get the word out there: Facebook and Playtests. (We also used email and Charlie’s deviantart page, but they seemed to be not as useful for getting people to vote.)

Our company logo. I think it's nifty! Again, thanks to Charlie!
Our company logo. I think it’s nifty! Again, thanks to Charlie!

Our Facebook strategy was simple and tied into our company strategy: get friends on our company Page (This and That Games), in our company group, ask some designers for help, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY: personal message people.

(We should have used a listserv to contact people who prefer email, but we don’t have one set up yet. Working on it! Can you tell we’re a startup? :P)

When you PM people, you are spending time on each one instead of blasting everyone at the same time. It is more personal, it makes people more likely to vote for you (or buy your game if you are at that stage,) and it might let you learn something! I talked to a lot of designers. Some of them voted for me, but their feedback for the game and what I was doing was much more valuable 🙂

So use social media responsibly. Have large group messages give general info, but if you want people to do something: talk to them individually. They will respect you more for it. Take the time on them, and they will take the time to help you.

The other aspect is playtesting. This is great for getting valuable feedback about your game, exposing people to your game, and also getting people interested in you and your company. I started doing playtests two weeks ago regularly, and now I am doing multiple every week. It is a necessity to make sure your design works, and to let people know who you are.

A third of our votes came from physical playtesting, a third from Facebook posts and social media, and a third from Board Game Geek people (especially at the end of the competition.) This allowed us, a two man band with lots of gameplay experience but not a huge amount of design experience, to place first- even with some very stiff and experienced competition. (As a side note, it has been mostly quiet, but I feel friendly towards our competitors. They have awesome games, and I want to actually play the ones we will be up against in the second round of the competition in St. Louis!)

So, the takeaway. Be personal, be friendly, be sociable. Put time into learning about others and explaining what you do a little bit, and they will be willing to help you. Friends and family want you to succeed, so don’t be shy in asking them for help either! As I write this, I realize that this advice is applicable to life in general, not just game design. Be more open with people and they will return the favor!

Hi! I am Eugene Shenderov, and I am a starting game designer. You can find my website at www.thisandthatgames.com. Send me a message if you have any questions!

Have a great day!

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