I’ve been asked many times how a small startup with as of yet no released products like ourselves managed to get over 1600 followers on twitter. My usual answer is that I don’t honestly know. Obviously it would be nice to think it’s because people are genuinely interested in our upcoming game Hyphen, but that remains to be seen when we launch.
I can’t sit here and write an experts guide on the subject but what I can do is tell you what WE do, whether that works for you or not is another thing – it can’t harm to try though!
1.) Follow Friday (#FF)
Every week we take part in a social event called Follow Friday. Basically you use the hashtag #FF and put a list of twitter usernames (e.g #FF @FarSpaceStudios @marc_mccann @bigbadbob2003 etc) that you think people would be interested in following. This is a nice thing to do as it is a nice easy way of engaging with your followers and it is also very beneficial. More often than not your followers will retweet your #FF’s and also post one themselves – usually with your username included to return the favour. As you can imagine if you have any followers with a large amount of followers this can quickly increase your follower count as the #FF chain continues.
2.) Screenshot Saturday (#screenshotsaturday)
As per the previous example, this is also a weekly social event that we participate in. If you are working on a project and feel you have something to show in the form of a screenshot or video – this is the place to do it. There is a website (http://screenshotsaturday.com/) that collates all of the screenshots that are tweeted using the #screenshotsaturday hashtag. It is well worth doing this as not only is it extra exposure to twitter users and other game developers which can increase your following, game media also take notice of this site which could lead to even bigger and better things!
3.) Engage with your users often
Engaging with the people who follow you is important, if you don’t bother with them then why should they follow you? Twitter has millions of users and small startup game studios, you are but a small fish in a very vast ocean. I actually treat the @FarspaceStudios account as though it’s my own personal account. People know me by name and I engage with a lot of the people on our follower list. My opinion on this is that people feel more comfortable talking to an individual than they would do talking to a corporate body. We are not large companies for the most part and I have never understood why some indie game studios (studio usually being a bedroom) try and act bigger than they are. Nobody is fooled and it is actually likely to do more harm than good.
4.) Don’t engage with your users with automated tools
This should go without saying really but there are a lot of accounts that when you follow them they send an automated direct message thanking you, or even trying to promote their product. It may seem like a nice gesture but it is a lazy gesture and most people hate it, myself included. When I do receive automated DM’s I unfollow the account regardless of the content of the DM and I know a lot of other users that do the same.
5.) Follow back when followed
Another thing I have noticed a lot of developers doing is not following back when followed. This is social suicide. It’s almost as though some people think that having 500 followers and only following a couple of accounts back is some sort of status symbol. In my opinion it is a walking advert of how ignorant you are. Sure there are a lot of undesirable and strange people on twitter but it is quite easy to filter them out or delete them individually, it is certainly no excuse to not engage with any of your followers. If you don’t follow them you can’t see what they post. Most of the time users will quickly work out that you are not following them and unfollow you.
6.) Unfollow accounts that unfollow you or don’t follow back
I know this one will be a controversial point with many people. There are VERY few accounts I follow where they don’t follow me back. These accounts are usually news accounts, celebrities or high profile people (I still don’t see a reason why celebrities can’t follow back but hey). The reason I think it is important to unfollow non followers is because you are limited to how many people you are allowed to follow based on how many people follow you. I would not want to waste slots for potentially good people to follow by following people that can’t be bothered to take 2 seconds to follow me back. As I said in the point above, I think it is ignorant.
7.) Don’t use profane language
I know that sometimes things can get on your nerves, in fact I have a heck of a temper at times. However there is a time and a place for bad language and your game studio twitter account certainly isn’t that place. Either keep it to a personal twitter or just yell at random passers by when something gets you down.
8.) Don’t over advertise
A lot of people seem to think twitter is there purely for advertising or posting links to other social sites they participate in. This isn’t the case. I’m not saying don’t do this, I promote Hyphen on twitter all the time. However I also post about other topics and take part in discussions. It is a balancing act to promote your work as often as possible without being seen as a spam account. I’m not professing to be an expert on this but I don’t see a lot of people unfollowing @FarspaceStudios on a regular basis so we’re either tolerated or our signal to noise ratio is right.
As you can see this isn’t the most exhaustive of lists but these are the core principles I stick to where the @FarspaceStudios account is concerned. I hope this list has been of some use and please feel free to suggest any other points you can think of, I would be happy to hear them!