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Start using Twitter!
by Steven Honders on 12/04/13 06:40:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


A lot of developers nowadays use social media. For networking, marketing or just social conversation. Still a lot of people, mostly new developers, answer 'no' when I ask them is they have a twitter handle. It surprises me that in this day and age, not every developer or aspiring developer, starts with setting up a twitter account. Some say 'yes, but I don't really use it much ', which is a missed chance in my opinion. As in my experience, it's one of the most useful and efficient social media tools there is.

So to all you game developers out there, be it rookies, me being a rookie myself, or veterans. Here are some reasons why you should start using Twitter, if you haven't already.


1 Networking

It's one of the most useful networking tools out there. You can connect with people by one click on the follow button and receive every bit of information they have to share. You can interact by reacting to tweets they make without having to deal with befriending them, signing up for something or start up a program to write them an e-mail. Maybe they'll even react and you end up having an interesting discussion. Just keep following interesting people and engage them socially.


2 Marketing

Twitter makes reaching a target audience easy as can be. Every tweet you send out, gets posted on the Twitter feed of everyone that's following you, if they re-tweet you, it gets posted on their feed and if someone re-tweets get the message. Not only has it the lowest barrier for your message to get spread, Twitter also has the ability to add hash-tags to your tweet (#gamedev #games, etc.) With these you can reach an audience interested in a certain topic. A hash-tag, for those that don’t know (which is probably no one reading this, but still) makes it easy for someone to search every tweet within a certain topic to be displayed, without having the need to follow everyone. So marketing your product for a target audience via Twitter saves you a lot of work. Not that you should use only Twitter for this, but it's a big help.


3 Discussion

Everyone likes a good in-depth discussion about an interesting subject right? I know I do! So when I'm bored, I send out a tweet with a question that's (apparently) bugging me at that moment. Mostly about stuff that is game related, but it can be about anything. Send it out with the right hash-tag and wait till the responses start filling up your Twitter feed. Depending on the time, subject and I'm sure a lot of other stuff, these discussions can soon grow out to something that not only you talk about with someone, but everyone with each other as well. I've learned a lot about various subjects in a short amount of time this way. Everyone all over the world can share their thoughts and answers to your questions. What more do you want?


4 PR

Because talking to someone over Twitter is so easy, it's often a better way of sharing something about the progress of your game with people that could help you get exposure. That is, if it's short enough. It won't replace the need to send out e-mails to your entire mailing list. But it could save you a lot of time to keep people up to date. Also in my experience it's a way less intrusive way of following up on your e-mails, if someone hasn't responded.


5 Lists

Twitter also has the option to create lists. This is a way for you to add people on Twitter, tweeting about a certain subject, to a list. Without having the need to follow them all first. You can make a list of game developers only and have it open in your browser. This way you keep up-to-date with everything that people withing your list post about game development. You can create multiple lists about just as many different subjects this way, So you don't have to filter relevant tweets from your main Twitter feed yourself (of course you still have to create the lists and fill them with interesting people).


6 The core

Twitter only allows you to use 140 characters. This includes spaces, so it's not an easy job to share all that info without crossing that limit. This is why you sometimes really need to get to the core of what you want to tell. Be it the USP (Unique selling point) of your game, the latest news about your game or just an opinion about something. It can be hard to get to the core, the most interesting information, about what you want to say. Twitter is a great tool to train this asset. So for every piece of information that you wish to share, at least try to make a version that fits the 140 character limit.


I'm sure there are a lot more reasons for using Twitter and just as many why you should not. But every time someone tells me they don't have, or use Twitter, they miss an opportunity to share their wisdom and experience with the world. A lot of wisdom can be put in just those 140 characters. So whether you tweet about your game, your education, your job or your evening dinner. Just be sure to keep updating people with what you have to share with the world.


Of course you can follow me (@Ithunn) or Speelbaars (@Speelbaars) on Twitter. Try sharing your opinion about this blog with me.

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Luis Blondet
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The only thing i ever got from Twitter was crickets, then i get filled with a feeling of the futility it comes from talking to an empty room, which i eventually exit, but i'm sure it's great if you have some detectable degree of fame.

Christiaan Moleman
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That's totally the wrong way to look at it. You don't need any fame whatsoever to get something useful out of twitter. Of course if you only see it as a tool for self-promotion then yeah, you'll get crickets. It's a two-way thing.

You should start by following people who tweet things that you are interested in actually reading - and read them! that's half the value of twitter right there - maybe occasionally try to participate in a discussion or two and above all start posting things YOU find interesting, useful links, opinions about relevant topics. It helps if your twitter is about a specific thing, not just "well, here's what I did today". You should definitely not expect to start proclaiming your 140 characters of infinite wisdom and expect anyone to just show up.

Also, if all of your twitter is just "We're REALLY EXCITED to tell you about our AWESOME PRODUCT" then forget it. People want to read actual human words, not press-releases.

(note: no idea what your twitter was/is like, just going by your comments here)

Luis Blondet
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Your feedback will be humbly received and appreciated.

Andy Gainey
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One of the first things I did just a couple of weeks ago when preparing for my recent move to full time independent development was to create my Twitter account (@AndyGainey), thanks to advice like this. I'm not expecting anything huge from it immediately; I'm presuming that it will take time to get used to and fully leverage.

But one benefit I'm already noticing is that if I can't even find a single thing to tweet about each day, I probably didn't do enough work that day and should reassess how I'm spending my time. This will hopefully contribute to maintaining forward progress at all times.

James Hofmann
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Twitter is most immediately useful for its serendipitous abilities to meet like minds over time. One big mistake I often see is to act as if it's a "rolodex" tool where you only follow based on prior contact and dutifully pay attention to every single sentence anyone says - if you over-filter your feed then you won't be able to discover anyone of interest. A good start is to follow famous people, and through their conversations and retweets, add more until you've worked your way downwards to people between 100 and 1000 followers; those are usually the people you can actually talk to.

Although a lot of gamedevs use Twitter to spam project updates, figure out who you're broadcasting to before you do that - if you already have an audience, are they on Twitter? Oftentimes, by the nature of the network, stuff mostly gets pushed through existing industry circles, so tailor it around that. This in turn means you most likely to be representing yourself, not a company brand.

Lastly, because you are representing yourself, there is a tendency for timelines to drift away from anything directly related to professional interest. This is fine as long as you are fine with sharing. If your timeline stays interesting, your followers usually won't mind. There are two major don'ts that I'm aware of: One is plain old negativity. Whether it's everyday grousing or hurtful language, there's little benefit in expressing it through tweets. (On the other hand, callouts and constructive critique tend to play well.) The other is trying too hard to be funny "at" someone. Humor is okay, but a lot of jokes lose their impact when seen from within a pile of tweets. Doubly true for jokes that are negative, as they tend to read hurtfully.

~ @triplefox

Alex Covic
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I wrote something - less comprehensive - on Gama 4 years ago. The fact, that it is still worth discussing does not bode well for the "social" (or business) part skills of some?

Twitter - more than anything - is a mirror?

You can use it in as many ways as YOU see fit? Finding peers, chatting with peers, meetups, solving code questions, promoting your game, finding investors(!), etc, etc.

Mike Acton @mike_acton is a great example of building a network, back in the earlier Twitter days, which led to #AltDevBlogADay.

Phil Maxey
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Twitter is invaluable in todays networking strategy. I've already got 380 indie game devs signed up to @promotegames and it's a great network of like-minded individuals who discuss all the things we are all interested in!