Things We Learned, Part 1: Getting started with Twitter
 
I signed up for Twitter in 2008. After eight years, I'd accumulated about 50 followers and only made a handful of posts. I didn't really get it.

When I decided to become an indie game developer in April 2016, I revisited the whole Twitter thing. Since then, it's become my main source of marketing and community-building. I've made so many contacts and gotten welcomed into the indie game dev community that I was a complete outsider to a year earlier. I've built up an amazing fan base for Ooblets on Twitter, and I don't think I'd be nearly as far along if I hadn't been using Twitter.

I learned a lot of things along the way, so I thought I'd share some of them to hopefully help other artists and game developers who want to get started with Twitter or improve how they're already doing.

1. Have cohesive branding

It's important to think through how people are going to perceive your account and tweets.

Post as a person

Early on, I had to decide whether to jump into social media as myself, my game, or a company. It’s a little off-putting communicating with people as a faceless avatar of your game or company, even if it’s just you behind the scenes, so I chose to focus on my personal brand. I picked a unique name I could snag accounts on across all platforms (nonplayercat), and I think it was the right choice.

People want to interact with other people!

Catch them in the first 5 seconds

Most people don’t have time to consider your value at a very deep level.  They'll choose whether to click on your profile based on the little hover card that only shows your avatar, header image, username, bio, and follower count. For the parts of this you control, you should choose them wisely!

Your best art or game art should be featured in the header image and possibly your avatar.

You don't need to be funny or original in your bio, just make it easy for people to parse who you are and why they should be interested.  

Make sure you have static (non-gif) image posts to show off in the photos grid on the left of your profile.

Be clear

Don’t make people go on a scavenger hunt to find out more about you. Provide a link to your website and make sure your website links to your other social media profiles. You might assume people can find out more info about you by searching for you or your game, but most people will never commit the time.

2. Don't be passive

Retweet

Your success on Twitter will be down to people retweeting your posts. Considering the golden rule, if you're not retweeting other people's work, why should they retweet yours?

Twitter isn't a good portfolio platform to only showcase your own art. Use your website for that.

Retweeting is the main way you participate in Twitter, and people will be less likely to help you out if they know you're not going to reciprocate.

Interact

“If you build it they will come” just isn’t true, and you should probably know that if you’re already reading this. Even if your work is great, if you don’t get your name out there, nobody is going to notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve favorited something and had the creator follow me two minutes later. People watch their notifications like hawks, so get your face in there as much as you can with favorites, retweets, and replies. They’re free!

You should also try to respond to everyone who interacts with you (unless they’re being creepy). If you’re small-time, you need to be building relationships with people, not advertising to them.

3. Don't make people angry

Try to avoid controversy and being mean until you’re rich.

Be careful dipping into politics or whatever topic that divides people, no matter how popular or right you think your opinion is.

You will always turn off some percentage of people with your opinion that you otherwise wouldn’t if you hadn’t weighed in. It might be easy to say that people who disagree with you aren’t your audience, but if you’re trying to pay rent, you can’t really afford that stance.

4. Make things people want

This one sounds simple, but it's actually really complicated.

People are more likely to retweet things they think look good on their feed. That usually means something that's funny, something that's got attractive imagery, or something that's got both.

Vary your imagery

People will get bored of your stuff if it's just minor variations on the same thing. Try to vary the colours, scale, perspective, and content as much as possible.

Stand out quickly

People scroll through their feeds very quickly. Try to make your posts appeal instantly by playing around with visual simplicity, complexity, and colour variation. I've heard people say that a lot of bright colours do objectively better on Twitter than fewer, duller colours, and that makes sense.

5. Ask for what you want

This is something I have a lot of difficulty with as a very shy person, but it does really work. If you want people to retweet something, sign up for something, or do something, they're going to be a lot less likely to do it if you're being subtle.

Don't overdo it, but from time to time when something is important to you, just ask for it. That's why YouTube people always say LIKE and SUBSCRIBE constantly. For better or worse, it does work.

There's a lot more...

There are too many things to fit in a single post, so I've written a follow-up article of 10 more Twitter tips you can read by clicking here .

If you found this useful and you'd like to see more of this sort of thing, I'd really love it if you became a patron at any level.

You can also follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.