Social media engagement is one of the greatest weaknesses of indie developments studios. This is expected, as it is not a skill that many possess naturally through their conventional education, be it through high school or University. In addition, most indie teams are so strapped for time that perhaps, they cannot spare time to meaningful consider how social media should be handled.
Through my experience of evaluating indie teams over the years, I would say that it is very important to have a social media presence. This point is not a trivial one as quite obviously many follow this rule, most will not put sufficient effort into it for it to be actually worthwhile. In order for social media pages to actually be relevant, one should be aiming for a substantial amount of engagement. Unfortunately, this does not happen overnight.
I believe social media, (Youtube, streaming or anything that is new age media) is a deep rabbit hole much like how game development is. Most layman who are not familiar with this will often undermine the difficulties involved. Given that almost all indie teams and social media pages fail spectacularly, I suppose the only sufficient answer is – social media is possibly one of the hardest thing you will ever do in your life.
While I am fully behind the emphasis behind social media, I also caution game developers into believing that games sell based on marketing or social media presence. This is a very convenient scapegoating lie that many developers tell themselves as they would like to believe that success is outside of their control. The convenient lie is that it is not about making a great game but rather, the marketing and luck that comes along with it. The vast majority of successful indie games came from a zero advertising budget, and if they did get advertising for free by famous streamers, that is almost certainly because the game was already good to begin with. If you would like social media to launch your game into the stratosphere in terms of popularity, your game already needs to be already excellent and very much playable from the beginning.
There are countless examples, but I will avoid sharing them here as its not nice to shame unsuccessful indie games. Failed games are dime a dozen, with some 99.9% of games that are either unlaunched or financial infeasible. If you lurk their social media pages, there are sometimes a lot of low engagement posts that likely were not read by many. They ardently followed the rule of ‘post often’, ‘make sure to talk about your game regularly’ and I have to say, this is rather poor advice. The reality is, unless your post is leaps and bounds above the existing competition, it is unlikely anyone will care about your game, your posts and unfortunately by extension, you as a person.
The takeaway is this. Get into social media when you have very high quality content to post that is immediately interesting to supporters that they can’t get elsewhere. The 10x rule of all startups is, unless you are bringing your customers something that is 10x the value they are paying for it, you will most likely fail or struggling incredibly with your product. When posting, ask yourself – does this reflect the 10x rule? Sadly for most indies, the answer is a resounding… no.