The problem with marketing

A gamedev told me today: “It is ironic that I actually have to stop development, so I can build a community now.”

And it hit me. The problem with marketing is not that it’s hard to do, but that it IS work that you actually have to do. Just like you spend countless hours to build your game, you have to spend countless hours to build your community. Just like you code and run and debug, trying to find out what worked and especially what didn’t, you have to write and post and analyse the results of your actions, so you can fix it, tweak it, improve it. There is no magic, it’s work. Plain and simple work, just like making a game. You build a game with code and art and sound and design. You build a community with words, and pictures, and sharing, and jokes, and useful lessons. It takes time. 

And my puny social media usage proves it. If I stop tweeting a few days, I lose followers. Of course I do, I am boring! It’s the same on Facebook, my content becomes less relevant and therefore shown to less people. Don’t get me started about my blog 😀 I don’t make the effort to entertain my community, and so they invest their time elsewhere. I’d do the same.

When I make an effort, I do gain attention. Like when I read super interesting articles about gamedev and share them, every single one of them is something I consider deeply valuable and I know this knowledge will help someone in my network. That’s why I share it, its for them, not me – and if it is as good a piece as I think it is, of course it gains attention.

But the process is slow. The internet is big and full of wonders and you are just a speck of dust in it. You’ll tweet and share and no one will respond to you. This makes your effort seem futile and lonely. But this is awesome, because you can experiment. You will not be taxed for your mistakes. You will do something, and fail and there won’t be so many people judging you. So you’ll pick yourself up and try again and do better. Until people start knocking on your virtual door. It’s a somewhat exponential thing. It takes patience.

You know what works, though? Consistency and value. Be consistent in building your community. Do something for it every day. Always remember, whatever you do, it’s for them far more than it is for you. Show off, but analyze reactions. Try to give as much value as possible. Mean it. Be honest. And be humble. No one owns you anything, and your game, so far as it has not reach other people’s hands, is only special for you.